You can take steps to avoid a mid-afternoon slump. You know the feeling—sometime after lunch but before the end of the workday you feel sluggish and sleepy, and just can’t concentrate. Many people will reach for a cup of coffee, which can help temporarily. But it’s unhealthy to constantly rely on caffeine to get your brain and body moving again. You have other, healthier options!

Six healthy ways to re-energize without coffee

Next time you feel yourself reaching for another cup of joe, try one of the following alternatives:

  • Take a quick walk. Get up from your desk or workspace, and get moving. Go outside, if you can. The movement will get your heart pumping and refresh the blood flow to your brain, helping to wake you up. If you’re outside, the natural light can also help you recharge.
  • Chew on a stick of minty gum. Mint is a flavor that stimulates the brain and senses, and can help pull you out of a slump. Plus the rhythmic movement of chewing can also to wake you up.
  • Have a protein or whole-grain snack. The protein and grains will allow for slow, sustained energy release. Though it’s tempting, don’t reach for a carb- or sugar-loaded snack from the vending machine. Since simple sugars are easily digestible, you’ll get a quick energy burst, but it will be followed by a slump; that’s not what you need to get you to the five o’clock whistle. Choose a healthy option, such as whole grain crackers with peanut butter, apples and almond butter, or whole wheat pita and hummus.
  • Do something fun. Stimulating your brain can help to get you motivated and back on task. Take a short break to do something you enjoy. Read an interesting article, chat for a few minutes with a co-worker or challenge yourself with a quick brain game using an smartphone app, such as Lumosity.
  • Listen to a song or two. The tune and beats of your favorite music can also help you regain mental focus. Grab your iPod and take a few minutes to relax and jam before getting back on task.
  • Rub your ears. It may sound crazy, but rubbing the outer edges of your ears for 30 seconds can help revive you. According to acupuncturists, many energy pathways pass through your ears, especially the outer rims. Rubbing your ears can help to stimulate these pathways and make you more alert.

Limit your coffee consumption—and get enough sleep!

Coffee has antioxidants that can be good for you, and a little caffeine isn’t harmful. For best results, experts recommend limiting your consumption to one or two cups in the morning. After that, plan on healthier ways to revive, such as those listed above. Remember, it takes 30 days to build a new habit, so stick to it. It’s also important to get plenty of sleep at night. Most people do best with six to eight hours.

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