Coffee doesn’t work for me anymore.
After a decade of kopi kaw later, my body is officially immune to caffeine. If that sounds like you, we’re screwed.
Life is demanding. Some days, we’re busy sending our kids to school and sports practice. Other days, we’re tired from Skyping with our long distance partner or queuing up to buy tickets to a K-pop concert.
Humans can only do so much with the time we have. That’s why we rely on coffee. It’s fast and cheap. All we need is a cup to keep us going.
Now that coffee doesn’t work for us anymore, what other alternatives do we have? Any other option that is as quick and energising as an espresso?
If you need an energy boost, here’s what you need to do.
1. Get a workout
Let me put this out there, workouts aren’t my thing. It’s hard to think about sit-ups after working all day, but there’s a reason why it’s here.
You see, my life is rather sedentary. Since I work from home, my only workout was walking back and forth to the kitchen to brew some tea. Thanks to my lack of workout, I’d rather squeeze into a crowded lift than taking the stairs.
Here’s where it changed me.
One time, I had to write a bunch of health articles. There was so much research to be done that I became exhausted. As the hours went by, I started losing my momentum and didn’t feel like writing at all.
At the back of my mind, I knew I had to suck it up and finished it. Diabetes may not be the sexiest topic to write about, but I had to do it. Then, I did something completely out of character.
I did 30 minutes of indoor cycling. I figured that I need those serotonins or endorphin shit so that’s what I did.
It was tiring as hell.
I remembered regretting every decision I made. I went completely out of breath and swore it was the worst idea ever.
But once my body was completely rested, that was when the energy kicked in. No joke, I felt strangely great. What the exercise did was sent oxygen into my blood and serotonin to my brain. When that happens, my mind became alert.
You don’t believe me? I’ll leave it to my editor to convince you on why you should really be working out.
After the cycling session from hell, I continued writing for two hours straight and finished it all. If I can get that burst of energy from a 30-minute workout, imagine how productive your day will be?
Okay so, you don’t have a bike? Try this…
2. Take a walk
Do you secretly check your step count on the health app every day? Yup, me too.
It makes us feel good whenever we surpass our daily target. Also, it makes us feel like a slob when we don’t.
For me, it wasn’t the fitness aspect that made me happy. I liked walking because it helps me clear my head. Whenever I need a power-up, I would step out of the office and into the outdoors. By the way, walking from your desk to the staircase to smoke doesn’t count.
Sometimes, I walk around the block or pretend to shop at Guardian and leave without buying anything. As long as I’m walking, I’m good.
Stress is energy-draining. It does nothing but makes us unhappy and unproductive. When we focus on our stress or worries too much, we lose our energy to work as well.
Walking takes you away from it.
It gives you something else to look at or think about. Like the cute cat resting on the roof of someone’s car or the delicious scent of ayam goreng from the nearby mamak.
When your senses pick up on other things, it minimises the focus on the things that bother you. And you’ll look out for things that make you happy. When you have a smile on your face, relaxation will come rushing. That’s what a short walk will do to you.
Guess what else would be good for you?
3. Listen to music
They say the telephone is the best man-made invention of all time. For me, it’s music. Music can turn the most boring task into something exciting.
For a quick power-up, there’s a song for every moment.
When you’re tired from driving, there’s Drake to accompany you through the NPE. When you’re almost giving up on the treadmill, there’s Britney to tell you to work, bitch. When you’re exhausted from hearing your wife’s nagging, there’s Ronan to serenade ‘you said it best when you said nothing at all’.
Try it. Play a song when you’re feeling down at work, school or anywhere else. Then, see what it does to you.
Otherwise, you can try this method.
4. Take deep breaths
What I like most about the practice of deep breathing is the way it distracts you from a problem.
Looking in a bigger picture, our energy runs low when we have a million things to do. When these tasks take up our time, it also eats up our energy.
That’s why yoga and meditation works. It brings you back to the state of mindfulness and centres the focus on you. The best part is you can do this wherever you are.
Find a quiet and comfortable space. You can tune out your Grab driver or noisy colleague for this one. Then, take a deep breath through your nose. Hold it for a few seconds and exhale calmly through your lips. Forget about your stress and worries. Clear your mind and repeat this exercise for 10-15 minutes.
If you have the time, you can extend it to half an hour.
Practicing deep breathing is a good way to energise your mind, body and soul. It melts your stress away, controls your anxiety and gives you a much-needed break. Once you have decluttered your mind, everything else will run smoothly.
When that happens, you will have the energy to go through your day.
I bet this last method is everyone’s favourite.
5. Enjoy an afternoon nap
I love my afternoon naps. I really do. I always believe that a well-rested body contributes to a well-rested mind.
Some might raise an eyebrow about my definition of afternoon naps. When I told my friend that mine is always three hours long, she replied, “That’s not a nap. That’s a short sleep!”
Whatever it is, I enjoy it.
If you have difficulty sleeping, like me, power naps are awesome. More so when you wake up early to get a parking space at the LRT or stay up to finish your boss’ work.
Take short naps if you need it. Just not during working hours or your colleague would confuse you for being lazy. If you’re working in an office, a 30-minute shuteye during lunch break is fine.
Afternoon naps are great for other situations too.
If your newborn kept you up all night, take naps whenever they do. If you’re meeting your Tinder date for a late-night movie, snooze before you go. If you’re driving to your kampung in JB, please don’t rely on free coffees at the petrol stations. Take short naps in between.
Having a good rest will make a huge difference, trust me.
Coffee? What’s that?
There are many other things we can do to power up our day. You don’t need a Starbucks in your cup holder to stay awake.
Whether you’re taking a walk or listening to music, powering up your day can be done by focusing on you. With these simple tricks, you can lift up your mood and energy in less than 30 minutes.
For more articles by Cheng Sim, read Clients from Hell: Malaysians Reveal the Clients They Never Want to Work With, and The Interesting Ways Malaysians Procrastinate at Work.