Staying awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted, or sleep-deprived. But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your senses and keep you alert.
SIGHT – VISUAL STIMULATION
1. Maximize your exposure to light.
Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.
Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.
2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).
Roll your eyes up and down, side to side, and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.
Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue. Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.
3. Take note of your environment.
Enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language, and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.
HEARING – AUDITORY STIMULATION
4. Engage in conversation.
Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.
Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.
5. Listen to upbeat music.
Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best. Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.
SMELL – OLFACTORY STIMULATION
6. Work your nose.
Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).
If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.
Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.
TASTE – GUSTATORY STIMULATION
7. Have a good breakfast.
Start off with the most important meal of the day. Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt. Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.
8. Drink lots of water.
Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.
9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.
Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola. Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.
TOUCH – TACTILE STIMULATION
10. Splash cold water on your face.
Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks, and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.
11. Use acupressure.
Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee, and your earlobes.
12. Get moving.
Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends. And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.
Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy, and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.
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