5 Stimulant-Free Ways to Boost Your Energy

5 Stimulant-Free Ways to Boost Your Energy

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Put the pep back in your step the natural way!
Energy Booster #1: Give Yourself a One-Minute Cold Blast in the Shower.

Think about it: blasting yourself with a cold spray of water (which fits nicely into your morning schedule anyway…) is certain to jolt your system into awake mode. As a bonus, it can also increase your respiration rate and get your blood flowing more rapidly, both of which help to wake your body up. Don’t believe me? I was skeptical too…until I tried it.

How to Make it Work: Take your usual shower, then turn the water to cold and blast the front, left side, back, right side of your body while you count to 15 for each area (60 seconds total). I always like to wrap this up with an additional few seconds of warm water—if nothing else, this lovely ending makes me feel grateful, which as it turns out, has a whole host of other positive side effects.

New Alpha Tip: Put a stickie note near your shower reminding you to do this. Otherwise, your brain may conveniently “forget” to do it on a regular basis.

Energy Booster #2: Have a Dance Party of One…or More!

Like blasting yourself with a hearty dose of cold water in the morning, cranking up your favorite song on Spotify, and letting yourself just dance like a maniac (I seriously love this guy!) for a single song is a great way to increase your respiration rate and get your blood flowing. Think of it as a 4 minute aerobic sprint.

How to Make it Work: You can do this at home, in your office, or invite others to join you if you have a shared work space.

New Alpha Tip: If you do this at work, consider giving people roles. For instance, I have “questionable” judgment around what makes a good “dance” song. If I were in charge of picking the music, we’d all be swaying to Snow Patrol. Luckily, my friends Jane and Peter have excellent and eclectic musical taste, so I’ve been known to rely on them for song selection.

Energy Booster #3: Do a Headstand or Handstand.

In yoga, inverted positions can be invigorating, among other things—and if you think about it (all that blood rushing to your head for 15 seconds or so), it makes good sense.

How to Make it Work: I prefer headstands, and I definitely need a wall for support with handstands, but if either of these positions seems daunting or you have neck or shoulder issues, high or low blood pressure or other heart problems, eye problems, a headache, or are menstruating or pregnant, consider skipping this option or doing another energizing stretch.

New Alpha Tip: Make sure you’re doing this in an open area where you’re not at risk of falling into anything painful, or causing damage to anything valuable.

Energy Booster #4: Take a Quick Walk With Someone.

This one is a double energy boost—you get all the aforementioned physical benefits of getting your body moving, plus some interpersonal engagement! This doesn’t have to be long—even just a walk around your neighborhood or the block where you work should do the trick!

How to Make it Work: Put on shoes, rally your colleagues/partner/dog/etc., and get your bum out the door!

New Alpha Tip: Consider what energizes you—for example, if you’ve just spent a long day in meetings, a solitary walk might be more energizing than a walk with just about any other person (or animal) on earth. Adjust to meet your needs.

Energy Booster #5: Get Enough Sleep.

This one seems obvious and yet, despite all of the science on why getting enough sleep matters, many people still fail to get the recommended 7-8 hour per night. The truth is, however, that if you don’t get enough sleep, no amount of energy boosters (natural or otherwise) is going to fully make up for the rest and repair that your body didn’t get the night before.

How to Make it Work: Read this.

New Alpha Tip: If you’re tempted to stay up late to finish a project, consider this: are those one or two hours of extra productivity worth ruining your energy levels for the entire day tomorrow?

Following these energy boosting tips will help to get you through the day without an over-reliance on caffeine and other stimulants, but don’t forget to treat your body well by eating the right foods, sleeping well (see above), and taking adequate time for rest and relaxation.

Fellow health and wellness nuts—what are your favorite non-stimulant energy boosters?

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Danielle Harlan is the Founder and CEO of the Center for Advancing Leadership and Human Potential (www.leadershipandhumanpotential.com) and author of the leadership book, The New Alpha (amzn.to/29C0V6j). She earned her doctorate in political science and M.A. in education from Stanford University, where she was a Jacob K. Javits National Fellow and received a Centennial Teaching Award for excellence in instruction. Prior to launching the Center, she was the Chief of Operations for the Carnegie Foundation, where she worked to harness the power of networks and quality improvement strategies in order to solve important educational problems. Named one of Silicon Valley's "40 Under 40," Danielle has also been a speaker for TEDx and worked as an instructor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and U.C. Berkeley Extension's Corporate and Professional Development Program. In addition, she has given guest lectures at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the “d.school”) and the Career Development Center at Stanford, and has been featured in leading publications such as Fast Company, Forbes, and Women's Health. Danielle started her career as a Teach For America corps member and later served as a mentor and advisor for Global Leadership Adventures, an international leadership development and service program. In addition to teaching in the U.S., she has taught in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, and South Africa. She is a member of the International Leadership Association, the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics, and the National Association for Female Executives.