19 Decaffeinated Tips to Feel Less Tired
It’s 9 more than 10, not 1 less than 20.
My neck shot up so quickly, I thought I had whiplash. I straightened myself out, shuffled some papers to pretend like I was doing something and stared at my computer screen.
But just a few moments later, my mouse slowly inched forward. My head leaned slightly to the left. My eyelids fought like little warriors but ultimately succumbed to the cinder blocks weighing them down.
Again, I was asleep.
Whether in an office environment or cozied up on your couch with some tea and a laptop, we’ve all fought the alluring temptation of an impromptu snooze. But some of these tired moments are inopportune. We need energy to get through the day, and by having more energy, we’re more productive. More productivity leads to better, more efficient days and lives.
My coworker, Ava, and I have been in an un-air-conditioned office for three months now, and each day, we experiment with new techniques to reduce our tiredness and feel more energetic. All without drinking coffee. Here are the best ones that have worked for us so far.
1. Nose, Nose, Hold, Exhale
Ava and I have begun experimenting with different breathing techniques. These techniques send signals to our brains which remind us to wake up and be more alert.
We’ve really enjoyed a fun pattern which combines nose and mouth breathing.
Breathe in through your nose, then quickly inhale through your nose again.
Exhale through your mouth.
2. Listen to Your Eyelids
Our eyelids play a critical role in our energy levels. Before bed, our eyelids feel “heavy” because all day we strain to keep them in an unnatural, upright position. By allowing them to soften and close, we give them the rest they need.
Throughout the day Ava and I have been listening to our eyelids. When they’re telling us they feel heavy, we listen by closing them for 5–10 seconds. It’s like extended blinking.
Pro-tip: We also wet our eyelids throughout the day, keeping them moist and fresh.
3. Make Your Own Wind
When we’re exceptionally hot, what do we do? We find a way to get more air flow by fanning ourselves or finding a cooler air source. If part of the reason why we’re tired is because we’re warm, then accessing air can help us cool off and quell our tired feelings.
Try to invest in a mini fan. Use your hand to blow air in your face. Stick your face right in front of an air conditioner if you have access.
4. Massage Your Temples
This is basically a massage for your brain. It’s a great way to recharge and ease tension. Your brain will thank you by feeling more energized and ready to perform.
5. Get Worked Up
Ava was really struggling the other day. The struggle began from the moment she walked in the door, stressed from a poor night’s sleep. We tried all different techniques, but nothing seemed to be working. When all seemed futile, and Ava was about to rest her head on the desk, she perked up. She looked at her computer screen.
“How dare this be the case!” she asserted. Ava made a few phone calls and advocated on behalf of her client who was being wronged. She became passionate about something. She got worked up, argued, complained and cared.
“Well that sure woke me up,” Ava said, as she finished one of her calls.
6. No More Snoozing
Much of our tiredness comes from habits and behaviors outside of the present moment.
How much alcohol do we consume?
How is our diet?
How did we sleep?
Are we exercising enough?
Overcoming our feelings of incessant lethargy often requires a deep introspective dive into our daily routines.
One thing I notice about myself, is that even though it feels like the right thing to do, whenever I snooze my morning alarm, I’m more tired the rest of the day. Snoozing to me means losing. I lost to my alarm that day. When I beat my alarm, I feel more energized.
7. 19 is 9 More than 10, Not 1 Less than 20
Speaking from abundance and focusing on positive language can actually make us less tired. Ava and I try to catch each other when we look at the clock.
If I say, “25 minutes left until 4pm,” Ava will correct me by saying, “35 minutes past 3.”
By reframing from scarcity to abundance, we charge our minds and energize our bodies.
8. Take A Risk
It’s exhilarating to feel frightened and take the risk anyway. When you face a certain fear, your adrenaline spikes up as your flight or fight response kicks in.
Send your boss an email for a raise. Call an ex-lover and tell them you still have feelings for them. Jump out of a plane. No matter the result, the anticipation will at least keep you awake.
9. Up and Give Me 20
Down and give me 20 is a popular drill sergeant order to discipline soldiers. We can also use this sudden jolt of exercise to stay alert throughout the day.
Ava and I will say, “Up!” to each other randomly. This signifies 20 jumping jacks. We’ll pop up from our chairs and complete a full set. Try this a few times a day to stay motivated and productive.
10. Look Forward to Something
Ava walked into the office one day with a bounce in her step. Despite the plus 80-degree basement where we work, she seemed bubbly, cool, calm, and eager to get through the day.
Turned out Ava was excited for what she had planned after work. She’s getting married and was going dress shopping. She was energized because she had something to look forward to.
11. Stay Away from Groggy Foods
Ava and I work at a Senior Center in Central Harlem. The southern style homemade meals are second to none. One day, I couldn’t resist some braised short rib with barbecue sauce, rice and beans, and tasty broccoli. As delicious as it was, all I wanted afterward was a nap.
Ava and I came up with an ongoing list of groggy, nap-inducing foods. Stay away from them.
Short ribs, barbecue sauce, rice and beans, bacon, anything with added sugars, sweet drinks, rich sauces, anything hearty or too heavy, anything fried, almost all desserts, the list sadly goes on and on.
12. Splash Water in Your Face
This one seems the most obvious, but cold water in the face is a classic wake-up call. The cold temperature shocks your system.
For a little bonus, try lightly smacking your cheeks.
13. Mirror Games
Every once in a while, Ava or I will go to the mirror and make faces. We’ll give a little self-pep-talk as a reminder to stay focused. This makes us laugh and keeps us up.
Smiling in the mirror at yourself, even if unhappy, has been shown to make you a certain degree happier. The same can go for showing yourself you’re energized even if you’re tired.
14. Never Be Full
Portion control is vital when it comes to eating and sleepiness. Throughout the day, you never want to feel full.
Try to have a few smaller meals instead of one gigantic one.
15. Let’s Get Loud
I strongly dislike loud noises. But I can’t say that loud noises ever made me tired. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. The louder things are, the more awake we get.
One of our supervisors can get extremely loud. Whenever she raises her voice, Ava and I are more alert. Try getting louder and see how it reflects on your tiredness levels.
16. Drink Colder Water
The colder your water, the better. In fact, while brain freezes may be painful, they rarely make you more tired than you were before.
You can drink your room temperature or cool water for hydration, but when it comes to being tired, take a sip of freezing water and wake yourself up.
17. Redefine Tiredness Cues
Yawns are the traditional indicator for tiredness. But did you know that some studies actually say that yawns are more symbolic of alertness? I’ve redefined what it means to yawn, and even what it means to be tired.
Just by saying the words, “I’m tired” less, I’m now a less tired person. When Ava or I are yawning, we remind one another that we’re feeling less alert, not more tired.
18. Cool the Back of Your Neck
Ava and I have found that there are certain spots that best equate to our energy. For example, trying to be more awake has nothing to do with our calves.
But the back of the neck seems to be a really important spot. By putting a cold compress on the back of our necks, we have both felt cooler and more eager to work throughout the day.
19. When in Doubt
Take a nap. A 5, 10, or 25-minute power nap may actually be the difference. Give yourself the space and the grace to give in to the temptation. Resist with the 18 other strategies listed, but at some point, a nap may be exactly what you need.
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