Keep your morning mojo going with researched-backed tips that promise to improve mood and give you the kick you need to get through the work day
Losing your morning mojo can be a serious productivity problem after lunch. Whether you're doing the "I swear I'm not sleeping" head bob during your afternoon meeting or dragging through your afternoon errands with a Starbucks in each hand, a mid-afternoon energy slump is as annoying as it is common. Thankfully, science has your (weary) back. A recent study found that a 30-minute lunchtime walk had an immediate mood- and energy-boosting effect on office workers. But even if you don't have time for a quick workout, additional research has found there are a few simple things you can do to banish the post-lunch woozies. (And keep in mind these 10 Tips for Everlasting Energy for an extra boost too.)
Getting your om on may feel more relaxing than invigorating, but scientists say that giving your brain a mental break can be considered anything but slacking. They say the downtime is necessary to replenish your brain’s stores of mental energy in the form of attention and motivation. Plus, studies have found that meditation increases productivity, creativity, and memory. Not sure where to start? Try this guided mini-meditation geared towards increasing energy.
Swapping out your regular bulb for a tinted one can be an instant energy booster, according to a recent study. People who used red light to work felt more energized and productive than people who used a blue light or regular white light. But, while the red-lighters got more done, they also felt more anxious. Researchers recommend blue bulbs—they still give you more energy than regular white bulbs, but won't make you feel on edge like the red ones.
Maybe there is some truth to the "red power tie"? Adding a red scarf to your outfit or looking at a red picture can give you a short burst of energy, say color researchers. Participants in a study who were shown instructions in red had faster and more energetic reactions. According to the scientists, the bright hue activates your sense of danger and can give you a period of intense awareness and energy. But before you paint that cherry accent wall, the scientists noted that, since the color can also make people feel stressed, it can backfire when used too often.
Even if you don't have time for a full 30-minute walk, simply stepping outside for a few minutes in the sunlight can have a huge impact on your energy levels. (It's also a great source of Vitamin D.) "It’s important that people who work indoors get outside periodically, and moreover that we all try to sleep in total darkness," says Russel J. Reiter, the lead author of a study investigating the role of sunlight in human health. "This can have a major impact on melatonin rhythms and can result in improvements in mood, energy, and sleep quality." (And, while you're out, try squeezing in these 5 Moves for Instant Energy.)
A mid-afternoon spritz of a lemon-based scent will not only refresh your perfume, but can also increase your energy. Researchers found that people who smelled lemon showed a measurable rise in levels of norepinephrine, the hormone responsible for mental alertness, energy, and concentration. Bonus: lemon-sniffers also reported a boost in mood, so you'll be whistling while you work. (Citrus fruits like oranges are one of our 5 Office-Friendly Snacks That Banish the Afternoon Slump.)
Popping a piece of gum won't just erase your garlic breath from the hummus you had for lunch—according to science, it can also boost your energy levels. Study participants who chewed gum reported a better mood and showed significantly higher levels of alertness. When put through a series of tasks in a "stressful" environment, gum chewers were better able to focus for longer periods of time and had faster reaction times than their empty-mouthed peers. All flavors worked equally as well, so treat yourself to something fun (just keep it sugar-free to protect your teeth).
Anyone who's ever been caught in a long dissection of last night's Bachelor episode knows that while they're fun, taking frequent chat breaks can be draining both on your energy and productivity. Turns out, it matters what you're chatting about. In one study, researchers found that people who took a quick break to give someone a compliment or praise a coworker reported an immediate bump in both energy and mood.
Reading may be a one-way ticket to snoozeville if you're already feeling tired, but researchers found that people who took a reading break to learn something new showed an increase in both mental and physical energy. The boost was especially high if they were learning something relevant to their work. But if you can't stand to think about supply-side economics (or something equally as boring) for one more minute, learning something physical, like juggling, also had a great impact. Plus, you'll be that much more entertaining at the next office party!