Let’s face it: Waking up in the morning can be a struggle. And while chugging cup after cup of coffee might give us a quick energy boost, it can leave us feeling groggy later in the day. Here are eight (mostly) caffeine-free habits to get you up and running in the morning and keep you energized throughout the day.
1. REPLACE COFFEE WITH TEA, JUICE, OR JUST PLAIN OLD WATER.
If you’re looking to cut back on your caffeine intake, there are plenty of delicious coffee alternatives that will give you that desired energy boost. Green tea has a fraction of the caffeine coffee does and can help keep you focused during the day.
Juices made with a mix of fresh fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and nutrients that will help you power up in the morning. Mix dark green veggies like spinach, parsley, and kale with apples or pineapples for a juice that’s delicious and full of nutrients (and for an added kick, throw in some lemon, ginger, or turmeric). Or, best of all, drink some water. It’s among the simplest and most effective ways to boost energy—because nothing saps your energy like dehydration.
2. LET THERE BE LIGHT.
Natural light sends a signal to your body that it’s time to wake up. Plus, one study found that exposure to sunlight in the morning (as opposed to later in the day) is linked to a lower BMI, so make sure you soak up a few rays outdoors before you go to work. And before you leave the house in the morning, it can be helpful to turn on all the lights to make you feel more alert. You can even purchase an alarm clock that uses light instead of sound to gradually wake you up.
3. WATCH A FEW CAT VIDEOS.
Watching a few cute animal videos or playing with your own adorable furball is a great way to jumpstart your day. Research has found that watching videos of cute kittens and puppies can temporarily boost your attention to detail and improve your mood. Watching cat videos can increase levels of the hormone oxytocin, which is associated with feelings of trust and connection, and decrease cortisol, a hormone linked to stress. Which means, just a few minutes of Internet cats can help you feel more relaxed and alert at the same time.
4. CREATE A QUICK WORKOUT ROUTINE.
Develop a quick morning exercise routine that works with your schedule and fitness goals. Whether you’re doing a few minutes of stretches, going for a dawn run, or inventing a complex routine of pushups, chin-ups, squats, and planks, the simple act of getting your heart rate up and stretching out your muscles is sure to make you feel more awake. If you’re really pressed for time in the morning, combine your workout with another morning chore: Do some yoga while you wait for your tea or coffee to brew, or just take the stairs instead of the elevator when you get to work.
5. EAT AN ENERGIZING BREAKFAST.
If you don’t have time to cook yourself a protein-rich scramble each morning, make sure you grab a fast breakfast of some kind. Protein- or carbohydrate-rich foods like oatmeal, eggs, and yogurt will give you energy that will last all day. Sugary fruits like apples can give you some quick energy, and, while it’s not the healthiest choice (and shouldn’t become your go-to breakfast), baked goods like donuts can help you concentrate early in the day.
6. PUMP UP THE VOLUME.
Play a few of your favorite tunes and dance it out. Listening to music will improve your mood, and dancing will release endorphins and get your heart rate up.
7. PRETEND YOU FEEL AWAKE.
Sometimes an attitude adjustment is all you need to start feeling more awake. Even if you’re feeling groggy and grouchy, act like you’re alert and energetic. Instead of slouching and slumping in your seat at the office, sit up straight and dive right into your work. Some of the activities we feel most like avoiding when we’re exhausted—walking briskly, making eye contact, laughing, making conversation—can actually help wake us up.
8. WORK ON A CROSSWORD PUZZLE, WRITE IN YOUR JOURNAL, OR MEDITATE TO ACTIVATE YOUR BRAIN.
In the morning it can sometimes feel like your body is going through the motions of getting up and going to work while your brain is still asleep. One of the most effective ways to wake yourself up is to perk up your brain with a few easy and fun mental exercises. Activities like meditation and conscious breathing can bring a sense of calm and clarity, while crossword puzzles, sudoku, or freeform journaling can get your brain ready for a day of problem-solving.