8 Ways to Energise Without Caffeine
Whether you want to cut down on your caffeine intake, or cut it out all-together, here are eight of the best ways to give yourself a boost without touching tea, coffee or fizzy drinks…
For me, cutting out caffeine has been a key part of healing my chronic headaches. The thought was pretty devastating to get my head around initially, especially as I used to be one of the worlds biggest tea drinkers, but I was determined to do whatever it took to rid myself of them.
So when caffeine is out of the picture, how do I energise myself?
We all know that it’s healthy to exercise and build movement into our daily routine, but did you know you can increase your energy levels by moving more? It doesn’t have to be a really hard workout everyday, just small things to keep your body moving. This could look like taking a walk in the fresh air on your lunch break, doing some gentle stretching or yoga first thing in the morning to get your body flowing, going for a quick jog, or by doing a youtube workout video at home… there are endless ways to get ourselves moving more, whether that’s a proper workout, or just getting off the bus a few stops earlier to increase your walking time.
Something that is really good if you’re in a squeeze for time is the ‘5-min kitchen workout’ devised by Dr Rangan Chatterjee. No equipment needed - just yourself.
Designed to be easy to fit into your day (and into your life), this short workout is perfect for fitting into a busy schedule. You don’t even have to get changed! It can be adapted to suit you, your ability, and the amount of time you have available (do you have time to do another round?).
Why do I suggest exercise for an energy boost? When we move our bodies we are creating energy. When we don’t move our bodies we become stagnant, tire easier, and we feel sluggish. The more we move the more energy we have. It’s all down to a cellular level, the mitochondria within our cells are responsible for the creation of energy. The more we move, the more mitochondria we produce to create and support that energy. So, by moving more we literally create more energy.
Water. Seems like it’s always the answer to everything health-wise?! That’s because on average our bodies are made up of around 60% water. So, when we get even slightly dehydrated, it impairs our optimal performance. It’s vital our brains are hydrated, as well as our bodies, as they are almost 80% water!
Studies have reported that even if we are just 2% dehydrated, this can have noticeable effects on our bodies.
In order to stay hydrated we must… stay hydrated! Drink! If you’re feeling energy zapped, reach for a generous glass of water to give you a boost. By steering clear of caffeine, you are already doing a good thing by avoiding the dehydration effects we get from tea and coffee.
To make sure you’re drinking enough water, I find it helpful to fill a bottle to drink from, that way it is easier to keep a track of how much I’ve consumed each day. But if you’re one of those people who just totally forgets to drink, why not get a bottle with time/water levels on it and literally keep it by your side to remind you to drink throughout the day.
This is more of a long-term one, but it is so important to have a good sleep routine. Not just once in a while. A consistent routine. In todays society, sleep is undervalued, and we have a strange measure of success according to how busy we are. No time for sleep? No time for health!!
In terms of energy levels, if you improve your sleep routine then you will be far more productive and focused, and generally feel a lot better in yourself!
What I mean by sleep routine, I’m not just talking about the length of sleep, this varies for everyone’s needs. Some people are fine with less, others find they need more. Somewhere around 7-9 hours is normal.
The quality of your sleep is vital. Many things interfere with how deeply we sleep; street lights, lights from electronics, doing something too stimulating before bed (Netflix), eating too close to bedtime, levels of caffeine consumption throughout the day, disturbances in the night (get up to pee) etc. etc! When we don’t sleep deeply we don’t wake up feeling refreshed and energised the next day. Sleep is vital because it is when the body does most of its restoring, repairing and detoxing. When it can’t perform this effectively (during deep sleep) we suffer, feel tired and generally aren’t our best selves.
There is an easy way to hack your sleep… hack your body clock. What I mean by that is to work with your natural circadian rhythms.
Exposure to morning light (even 10 minutes) first thing sends signals to your brain that “tah-da! It’s Morning!”. Exercise first thing also helps. In the evening, when it gets dark outside, start to turn down the lights at home too. Use soft warm lights, light some candles and set the mood for bed. Darkness is a trigger for melatonin, the sleepiness hormone. Make the last hour before bed super-low lighted and calming to bring on sleep easily.
Avoid using tech in this hour too. If you have to, turn the brightness right down and switch on the night-shift (yellow-light). On iPhone/Mac this is called night-mode. You can also reduce the white point too, via accessibility settings (I do this if I have to use my phone near bedtime). On Android/Windows PC you can download something called Flu.x to dim/yellow the screen.
Next, ensure your bedroom is completely dark, or use a sleep mask, as lights at night interfere with our natural rhythm and prevents us from getting into that deep, healing state of sleep.
If you have a hard time turning off your thoughts at bedtime, try doing a calming sleep meditation to ease your brain into sleep. Yoga Nidra works best for me, as it directs your thoughts to your body and where you’re at right now (in bed!) and I just find myself drifting into sleep 🙌. There’s loads of free Yoga Nidra sessions available on Insight timer.
There is nothing better than the feeling of waking up feeling refreshed, energised and ready to go! When we support our bodies in the right way, we can feel like this every morning!
4. Take a cold shower
The unpopular choice, just because it seems so unbearable!
However taking a cold shower has many benefits for our bodies, from boosted immunity, to better condition of hair and skin, to boosted energy. A short, sharp burst of cold helps to trigger the production of new mitochondria - the little wizz kids in our cells that I mentioned earlier, which transform the food we eat and the air we breathe into energy.
Yes, a cold shower seems intimidating, but could you turn down the temp to just-cold for just one minute? And next time a little colder, and then a for a bit longer?…
Just a couple of minutes of cold could give you a boost for the rest of the day!
5. Get fruited
Fruits are amazing, and they’ve been getting a bad rep recently. I’ve heard a lot about avoid fruit because of the sugar content blah blah… WHAT?! This is food from the earth we are talking about, the stuff we’ve eaten since forever! The sugar in that low-fat yogurt or newest flavour of Ben and Jerrys is what you ought to be concerned about.
Fruit is perfect energy food. It’s full of fresh vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and is pretty high in water content too (which helps to keep you hydrated). Eating fruit in its whole form (not as bottled juice or a supermarket smoothie) you will get whole food goodness with slow energy release. It won’t cause your blood sugar to spike like many snack foods today will do. When you eat more living food, you feel more alive.
Next time you’re feeling peckish reach for an apple, orange, banana, grapes, or whatever is your favourite fruit. Or make it a meal! I love making my own smoothies in the morning for breakfast, or having a fruit meal for lunch (I’ve just got some amazing Papaya from the wholesale market nearby 😋) - it makes me feel so light and energised 💥.
6. Connect in nature
Making an effort in getting away from screens and technology is becoming ever more important for our overall health, not just to get away from the physicality of sitting down all day, but to replenish our mental health and to leave us refreshed with a sense of lightness and wellbeing…
“Spending intentional time in verdant surroundings restores something of your original human condition: a calm body with an optimised immune system, and a brain in a state of restful awareness, alert to surroundings but unencumbered by constant thought. […] Allowing yourself moments in nature when you fully absorb its atmosphere, sense by sense, has the tremendous effect of rejuvenating the parts of yourself that get dulled and squelched by everyday demands - it brings you back to yourself”
— Frank Lipman MD, ‘How to be Well’
Well said Frank, couldn’t have put it better myself.
7. Crank up the tunes
I use music a lot to change up my mood.
If I’m feeling a bit stressed out I put on a calming playlist to help me settle into a more chilled out state. If I’m feeling at bit 😐‘meh’ then I put on a good playlist to lift my mood, and you guessed it, if I’m feeling a bit low or tired and lacking in motivation I put on a playlist that I know will get me up and dancing around (even singing along when I’m not in company)… Because who can resist singing along to their fave tunes?
Some playlists I love are over on Spotify:
8. Adjust posture & body language
How you hold yourself not only communicates to others around you, but also to yourself. Body language
I first picked up this tip from Dr David Hamilton PhD - a self-love, kindness & mind-body connection expert. I attended one of his amazing talks on "How the Mind Can Heal the Body”, a couple of years ago and have been following his work since. He highlighted to me the effect we can have on our bodies in the way we are feeling and how we act; they both affect each other.
We can influence how we feel with our movement, or by mimicking movement. When stressed out we are jittery, with sharp, quick movements. Our breathing is short, shallow and quick. In his talk David demonstrated that we can make ourselves feel like this by acting in this way when we don’t feel stressed. Quickly, we begin to take on these traits naturally as we trick the body into thinking something stressful us happening to us. He demonstrated the opposite too, by changing the tone of his voice, adjusting the speed he spoke at to a slow, soft and gentle pace, and by changing is movements from fast and jittery to slow, considered movements, casually wandering across the stage he was on. We were encouraged to take part in this too and it opened my eyes to the power of our posture and body language.
In the same way we can make ourselves stressed or calm, we can give ourselves a boost of energy by adjusting our posture, movements and breath. You can do this anywhere at any time to change your energy.
To give yourself a boost, sit up straight, take strong, deep breaths and move like you mean it. If you’re tired just get up and briskly walk around for a few minutes, ensuring your posture is straight and upright, push your chest out, shoulders down, head held high. Combine these for a few minutes or so and feel your energy level rise!
So there you have it! 8 hacks to energise WITHOUT caffeine. And most importantly, without the super highs and inevitable super lows. Just simple ways to give yourself a boost and stay balanced!
What will you try to keep you energised right now?