Afternoon coffee breaks when the stress of a workday peaks but the energy diminishes are a real thing. However, too much caffeine does not do the body any good. Instead of grabbing another cup, try these nine ways to recharge and finish the day strong.
- Do a mini meditation. For five minutes, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Feel the air come into your body and exit it. Try breathing more deeply each time. Every time your thoughts drift, bring them back to your breath. Your heart rate is likely to slow, allowing you to feel more rested.
- Daydream. Daydreaming is a favorite pastime during a boring lecture or class, but this type is a bit more structured. Close your eyes and imagine a place that is enjoyable and peaceful, such as a lake or the beach. Pretend that each one of your senses – sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste – are aware of the imagined environment. This can lift your mood and bring on a feeling of contentment.
- Speak about your surroundings. This is an excellent exercise that can be done while driving. Instead of listening to music or a book, turn all sound off and begin narrating your surroundings. Start with the obvious, such as the cars around you, and work towards the colors in the sky, the shadowing of trees, and awareness of other types of nature. This is an anxiety-reducing practice that can alleviate some tension from obsessive thinking.
- Body awareness. Sit comfortably in a chair and take a couple of deep breaths. Starting with your head and working towards your toes, tighten and then release your muscles. It is sometimes best to do the large muscle groups first, such as back and thighs, before working on the smaller ones, like fingers and toes. Your muscles sometimes hold onto tension unnecessarily and this will help to release it.
- Drink and eat slowly. All too often in an effort to just keep forging forward, mealtimes are rushed. Instead of grabbing something quick and wolfing it down, take a bite and become aware of the flavors in your mouth. Enjoy each bite or sip, and try to describe it as if you were a food or drink critic. Take a deep breath between each bite to further enhance the experience which improves your ability to digest your food properly.
- Phone a friend. Instead of exchanging text messages, call or video chat with a friend. Try to keep from doing anything else at the time and fully engage in the conversation. Listen to what your friend says and doesn’t say. Ask questions, be fully present. Human connection is necessary for everyone and when it is rushed or minimized, it can feel insignificant. True bonding requires effort but also brings a sense of peace through connectivity.
- Do yoga. Basic yoga positions such as child’s pose, hero pose, cat and cow pose, spinal twist, and legs up the wall are all excellent for releasing tension and promoting healthy blood flow. These poses are easy enough to do just about anywhere including work. Try to hold each pose for 30 seconds, increasing up to a minute as you progress. This stretches the muscles, focuses the breathing, and can clear the clutter in your head.
- Talk a walk. Nature is the excellent re-setter of all overly stimulating environments. Most workplaces utilize fluorescent or artificial lighting which causes you to feel drained over a long period. Just take five minutes out of your day for a quick walk outdoors to take particular notice of the sky, a bird, a tree, or even just the grass. This will reset your senses, thereby helping you to see the larger picture instead of the problems awaiting you at your desk.
- Release emotion. Everyone has some pent-up emotions from unprocessed grief, anger, annoyance, frustration, guilt, envy, sadness, and/or anxiety. Releasing these prevents a new anger provoking moment to trigger past moments which can have an unknowing compounding effect. To release the emotion, imagine standing in front of a calm pond. Take the emotion and put it the form of a rock, tossing it into the pond. As the ripples from the pond dissipate, imagine the emotion moving away as well.
It might be best to try only one of these each day to see which ones work best for you. Being able to maintain high energy levels is key to performing well at most occupations, plus doing so without the aid of a substance is a confidence booster.