Instant-Energy Tips to Make It Through the Workday

No matter your job or the number of hours you manage to sleep at night, you know that 3pm workday feeling: Drowsy, sluggish, thinking I will never make it to 5. Guess what? You don’t have to feel that way again. We’ve researched the 10 best ways to reset your energy and keep it powered up -- and all can be done easily and within minutes (if not seconds). After all, while you can’t really avoid having a job, getting through your afternoon shouldn’t have to feel like work.

TURN TO THE HERB

And make it rosemary. This common cooking herb not only helps boost mental acuity and alertness, but research shows it can actually help you perform everyday tasks faster and more efficiently. Keep a mini plant at your desk, or if your job is blessedly desk-free, carry a bottle of essential oil or some fresh sprigs in a baggie. Bonus: It makes an excellent seasoning for a mid-afternoon snack.

ACTUALLY LAUGH OUT LOUD

You have expert-backed permission to watch all the Sam Jackson political memes and Knickers the Huge Cow YouTube videos on your phone during your break. When you laugh, areas throughout your brain light up in response, and that fires sharper cognition. And, heyyy-o, that kind of genuine laughter revs energy expenditure -- i.e., how many calories you’re burning -- at the same time.

HIT THE STREETS

Step away from your responsibilities for a 10-minute stroll in the midday hustle and you’ll force your senses to switch on -- the noise from traffic, the smell of the cafes and coffee shops, the sight of cars and bicycles whizzing by you -- and the walk itself will boost blood flow throughout your body, which naturally makes you feel more awake. What’s more, research shows that this brief bout of ambulation lends you life even if you’ve been getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night.

David Saracino/Thrillist

TAKE A PARK PITSTOP

The same way the concrete world can shake you out of inertia, the natural world can coax you to wake up. Take a break from the grind in a park, on a trail, near a beach or lake, and the sights, smells, and movement can stimulate your mind, plus increase your mood and overall energy, according to a new study published in Ecopsychology. Can’t get outside? The researchers found that even looking at simulated nature -- say, gorgeous pics in NatGeo’s Instagram feed -- can give you a similar boost.

WORK THE 60-SECOND PUMP

Drop to the ground for a set of speedy push-ups. Do 30 jumping jacks as fast as you can. Hide out in a bathroom stall and throw 60 seconds of punches. Any burst of muscle activation -- even just a minute’s worth -- can increase oxygen to your heart, lungs, and brain, and release hormones like endorphins and cortisol, all of which make you feel sharper and alert. This trick has a twofold benefit: Keep these minute-long sessions up a few times a week, and science says you’ll get just as fit as if you were slogging through 45-minute runs on a treadmill. Boom!

BLAST THAT BACH

Slide in earbuds and cue a choice symphony or just tell Alexa to “play Brahms No. 4 in E Minor” (trust us, it’s a banger). Far from putting you to sleep, classical music is proven to engage the part of your brain associated with attention, productivity, and memory, according to Stanford researchers. (Dial that sonata up to 11, and the vibrations from booming bassoons can also stimulate the nerve endings just below the surface of your skin, keeping you more than alert.)

David Saracino/Thrillist

SPEND TIME UPSIDE-DOWN

Work from home? Have a job atmosphere that allows you to act a little crazy? Then hang your head between your knees for 30 seconds or kick up into a quick handstand against the wall. Getting inverted can snap you awake for the same reasons that experts recommend these maneuvers for when you’re about to faint: You’ll send a rush of blood and oxygen to your brain, which is its own instant bump of energy.

PUT DROWSINESS ON ICE

Fight nodding off with a frosty, energy-boosting beverage. The temperature is key -- icy-cold drinks literally jolt your body’s senses awake, from the moment you touch a cold can to the second the chilled liquid hits your stomach receptors. Grab a calorie- and sugar-free option, like Monster Energy Zero Ultra, for a healthier, guilt-free way to keep moving, and without the sugar energy-crash later.

PERFORM SELF ACUPUNCTURE 

Tuck this fact away for your next trivia night: The body has five readily accessible stimulation points that, if you apply pressure, can jumpstart brain activity. Press on any of these the next time you're feeling drowsy:

  • The center of the sole of your foot
  • The back of your knees
  • Either side of the back of your neck, just below your head
  • The top of your head
  • The back of your hand, between the thumb and forefinger

PURPOSELY TRY TO FALL

...then catch yourself. Yes, this one-man trust fall sounds absolutely ridiculous, but the idea works, and it can be done whether your job is hauling laptops or designing them. From a standing position, simply lean any direction -- forward, backward, to a side -- and see how far you can go before you fall. While the move is effective done slowly, it really delivers when performed quickly (aka, launching yourself forward and trying to stop a full-on faceplant). When you jar your body's sense of equilibrium, your brain snaps to attention to fire the right synapses to catch you; that feeling of alertness stays with you for a good long while. Oh, and the upshot if you actually fall? A bit of sudden pain can shock you awake. (As can the embarrassment if anyone sees you.)