Do you get an energy slump in the afternoon? Are you relying on caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea and soda to “pick-you-up”? What if you could zip up your energy naturally and effectively?
One of my favorite clients once came to our call to explore alternative ways to tackle the mid-afternoon energy droops. Finding three empty coffee mugs, a Diet Red Bull and two empty tea cups on her desk at the end of a crazed day jolted her system in more ways than one. She was also finding it more difficult to sleep at night after artificially zipping up her adrenals all day. Fortunately, she was ready and WILLING to implement alternatives. Here’s a snapshot of the list we generated that day with a few additional ideas.
1. Breathing. When stress sets in, the body contracts. Instinctually breath becomes more shallow. We practically stop breathing. Less oxygen makes it to your brilliant brain cells, and passing out on your desk becomes inviting. Fortunately, the fix is simple. Bring your conscious attention to your breath. Inhale with deep diaphragm breaths. Make your belly rise and fall with each breath. Most of us only breathe from our chest. Where is your breathing now? Get the oxygen pumping again. A phenomenal exercise involves breathing in a 1:4:2 ratio. It works like this. Breathe in for 8 counts, hold for 32 counts, and exhale for 16 counts. Any 1:4:2 ratio works. Breathe in for 10, hold for 40, and exhale for 20. You’re exhaling out longer than you’re breathing in. Repeat this 10 times.
I have found “breathing” exercises particularly useful as I was standing on the trapeze platform, getting ready to swing, hang from my knees, and be caught in midair. The instructor said, “Breathe in deeply. Hold for 3-4 counts. And, exhale as you drop your shoulders.” Surprisingly, I became quite relaxed as I stepped to the edge and grabbed the trapeze bar. By my sixth flight, using this breathing exercise at the bottom, about three times, I was ready to go immediately when I arrived at the top. Remember to breathe.
2. Hydrate. One of the quickest and easiest remedies is gulping down a nice, filtered glass of water. Maybe several. Drinking shifts your breathing, gets the blood flowing, and brings more oxygen into your system. It’s difficult to maximize the output of your mind when it’s low on water. Give yourself a treat. Hydrate. Sometimes, this is all it takes. And, sometimes we need to take the NEXT step.
3. Let’s Get Physical. Cartwheels and jumping jacks are two silly, yet effective ways to get the blood re-circulating in a foggy brain. Seriously. Grab a partner like my client does and enjoy a cartwheel or two. I’ve been known to do 25 jumping jacks when I need to break a slump prior to a live conference call or mid-afternoon coaching session. It always works.
Not up for cartwheels or jumping jacks? Try a walk around the block, a dash up and down the stairs, 3-5 minutes on a rebounder, or some yoga stretches. Remember, any yoga posture involving a back bend is even better for energizing your system Standing bow-pulling posture, camel or bridge posture are all excellent energizers. Run around the block, turn on the music and dance, twirl, or do a round of sit-ups or push-ups. Remember, changing your physical state is one of the fastest ways to change a droopy mental state.
Scoop Up Your Energy. Another favorite strategy can be done in the privacy of any bathroom stall or anywhere you choose. Simply lean over, bringing your hands to your feet. Then, imagine drawing the energy of the earth up with your hands as you scoop the energy up along-side your body. Your cupped hands will pass your knees, hips, belly, heart, shoulders, neck and head. Continue to extend your arms up over your head until they are fully extended. Breathe in deeply. Repeat this exercise several times until you feel grounded and alive with energy.
4. Brush Those Teeth. Yep. Simple and effective. Scrubbing those pearly whites does more than just freshen your breath and prevent cavities. It’s like beginning your day anew. My client keeps her toothbrush and toothpaste handy at work. Instead of reaching for sugary snack, de-sugarize your mouth. With a minty fresh mouth, you’ll also be less likely to spoil it with the taste of soda or coffee. It a nice “pick-me-up,” that works!
5. Silence the Mind. This is my all-time favorite remedy. On my busiest days, in the late afternoon, my energy can dwindle and strong urges to nap set in. Remedy? I plop down on my meditation pillow or lie on the floor, setting the timer for 6 to 10 minutes (longer if I have the time). My only purpose is to clear my mind. A mental break. When the beeper goes off, I’m always surprisingly recharged and ready to go. Works like a charm.
6. Connect with Nature. Why not tap into the most powerful resource in the universe? It’s found outside of every home or office. Nature. Get some fresh air. Pull those shoes off and rub your feet in the grass. Hug a tree. Smell the flowers. Lie in the sunshine. Gaze at the sky. Watch the clouds move. Find the moon. Dare to try a cartwheel! Walk around the block or on a nature trail. Walk more briskly if it’s chilly. There’s something about being in nature that reminds me of the bigger world outside of me. Suddenly, my tasks don’t seem as daunting when I connect to the awesome world around me. Nature energizes. Breathe in that fresh air with gusto!
7. Have a Good Belly Laugh. For a healthy rush of endorphins, get creative about generating laughter. Not just a chuckle. I’m talking about guttural belly laughs that make your cheeks hurt. I have several clients who keep a variety of “state-inducing” props in their offices and cubicles for this purpose. Groucho Marx nose glasses, noise producing gadgets and funny hats can bring the element of surprise to the afternoon doldrums. Do you work alone? You Tube has countless clips of hysterical footage. Make fun of yourself. Exaggerate the droopy state. Make faces in the mirror like you did when you were a kid. Be willing to laugh.
Releasing a Caffeine Addiction
If you’re considering drastically cutting back on the coffee, soda or caffeine, I’d love to encourage you to go for it!! When I left corporate America, I, like many others had a caffeine addiction. Three Diet Cokes a day was part of the routine. When I transitioned to a home-based business in 1993, I made a decision to give up the habit. For a week, I had a few headaches, but I persevered and in 14 years, I’ve consumed less than a half dozen sodas. The natural energy I enjoy is better than any caffeine lift. On the days, I experience the “energy droops,” I tap into the simple strategies above. Naps also work wonders.
Are you ready to radically reduce or eliminate soda or coffee? Just make the decision, and go for it.