6 Ways to Stay Awake at Work Without Caffeine

by Syed Kashif Ali, for LiveCareer


Need toothpicks to keep your eyes open at work? If you're trying to kick the caffeine habit for the New Year, don't fret! There's no need to drag yourself to the coffee machine for a high-octane cup of joe.

Just follow these tips for a caffeine-free work day:

1. Strut your stuff. Studies show that taking a 20-minute walk can boost your energy levels and decrease fatigue. Low-impact exercise seems better than higher impact exercise for fatigue levels, so you don't have to be a power walker to see benefits. Another plus is people who exercise tend to sleep better (and not at work!).

How: Just put on some comfy shoes and take a decent-paced walk! Only 20 minutes should rev up your energy levels.

2. Involve your ears. Listening to music while you work can help keep you awake and increase your concentration levels, experts say.

How: Pop on some comfy headphones -- nothing with speakers if you work with other people -- and see what kind of music works best for your productivity. For some people it's Bach. For others it's Lady Gaga. It's a highly individual thing, and can even vary for you depending on the task at hand.

3. Give your eyes a break. If you don't take breaks from your computer you can end up with headaches, tired and sore eyes -- and fatigue. A brief, well-timed eye break can keep your eyes happy.

How: About every 20 minutes, look far in the distance for 20 to 30 seconds. Distance vision helps relax your eye muscles, which stops eye fatigue in its tracks. For the ideal eye break, get to a window and look far off. The view will surely beat the view of your far-flung coworker's cubicle.

4. Stretch it out. Being stuck in idle in front of a computer all day can be a pain in the neck (literally) that can lead to stiffness and feeling wiped out. Stretching helps keep you from getting in a pooped-out knot.

How: You don't have to be a yogi to benefit from stretching. Just do gentle stretches for each part of your body. Shoulder shrugs are a great stretch for stiff shoulders: Sit or stand, and lift your shoulders up toward your ears. Squeeze them as hard as you can, and hold for one or two seconds. Then roll them back as you relax your shoulders down. Repeat eight times.

5. Fuel up with healthy snacks. Large meals can make you drowsy. (Think Thanksgiving, only on a smaller scale.) Try eating smaller meals and more healthy snacks throughout the day for sustained energy.

How: Instead of rummaging through the vending machine and getting junk food, bring something from home, like nuts, fruits, or vegetables. And rather than one large lunch, pack a couple of smaller meals.

6. When all else fails, use cold water. There's nothing like a splash of cold water on your face to revive you. Who needs coffee when you have water?

How: Don't forget to drink liquids throughout the day. Staying hydrated can result in increased oxygen levels which boost energy and can keep your mind sharp.

If you do all these things and you're still tired, it may be a sign that you're just bored with your job. Take the free career test to find a job that you will love and that will give you energy.