It’s 2 or 3pm when that “afternoon slump” hits. Your eyelids feel heavy, the minutes move slowly, and you begin to feel cranky, realizing just how much you hate being stuck at a desk all day. Before you reach for that extra cup of coffee, or start shot-gunning red bulls, why don’t you take back your power by breaking this cycle of unhealthy addiction and fueling your mind and body in a different way?
Now don’t get me wrong— I love coffee. But I realized just how addictive and harmful it can be when I became a full blown fiend for the bean. Most mornings I needed coffee just to get my coffee, and it left me with frequent migraines, crashes, and feeling dependent. Eventually, I knew it was time to search for more effective pick-me-ups. Now I can enjoy a cup here and there without feeling like I need it to function. So here are 5 tried-and-true ways to help you slay your way through the day:
- Matcha- Matcha is winning the hearts of coffee and tea lovers for its rich flavor, antioxidants, and natural caffeine boost. The tea leaves contain a substance called l-theanine, which helps the body relax without becoming sleepy. So what is matcha? It is green tea leaves served in powdered form, so when you’re sipping on matcha, you’re actually consuming the whole leaf, which is why it tends to be more potent than regular tea. Just sit back, take a sip, and be present.
- Other teas- If you don’t want to give matcha a try, you can always drink other naturally-caffeinated teas, such as black and green teas. I love replacing soy lattes with chai tea lattes. The health benefits of chai seem endless, as it is believed to aid in digestion, fight inflammation, and is made up of many herbs and spices that promote overall well-being. When I studied abroad in India, chai was the tea of choice, and it has been admired in Eastern culture for centuries. Now that’s a drink worth drinking.
So give it a try! All you need is chai tea, and some soy (or almond) milk. Steep the tea bag in hot water for about 5 minutes, and then add your milk. If it’s hot out, wait for the tea to cool, add ice, shake in the soy, and ta-da! You have a delicious, healthy beverage ready to wake you up.
- Smoothies- When I began limiting my coffee intake, I needed a drink I could replace it with, and fresh smoothies became my go-to. They offer natural sugars for a quick pick-me-up, and are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Smoothies are also a delicious way to get your serving of fruit for the day, since you can pack a bunch of fruit into one drink without becoming too full too fast. When your nurture your body with the proper fuel, you’ll be amazed at how much better it functions.
My favorite smoothies involve: various fruits, one type of vegetable (usually kale or spinach), pure coconut water or coconut milk, unsweetened soy yogurt, and chia (if I want to detox) or hemp (if I want a protein boost) seeds.
- Vitamin B12- Vitamin B12 is found in almost every energy drink, and for good reason. B12 is a vitamin that, among many other vital processes, helps turn the food you eat into cellular energy. I take a liquid B12 supplement every morning or afternoon, and while it doesn’t jolt me awake, being deficient in B12 is very serious and will leave you fatigued. So if you suffer from chronic fatigue, make sure it’s not a symptom of something more serious, such as a B12 deficiency.
- Exercise- Our bodies were made to move, but unfortunately most jobs today involve sitting at a desk for many, many hours. When you’re not putting your body to use, you’re bound to get tired, so when you feel that afternoon slump creeping, go for a walk. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, getting your body moving will wake you up. There are many studies that show the benefits of exercise— such as increased mood, focus, memory, and energy—so make sure you stay active outside of work, too. It’s all too easy to get home and then slop onto the couch and binge on food and your favorite TV show for the rest of the night, but once you start creating a routine of working out—whether it’s going to the gym, biking, kayaking, doing yoga, swimming, walking, dancing—you’ll never want to live a sedentary lifestyle again. The effects are that amazing.
Life is too short to be tired all the time. Get up, get out there, and find what makes your soul shine.