Are you struggling to stay alert at work? Are the coffee room and its coffee maker your best friends at work?

While a small consumption of caffeine has been found to be beneficial to your health, drinking excess amounts of it can be dangerous. Not to mention that continuous use of caffeine will lower its effectiveness and you’ll have to deal with those inevitable crashes.

But how can you stay alert and energetic without it?

The good news is that there are many ways to stay awake at work aside from drinking caffeine. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to seven effective and scientific ways to stay energetic and improve your focus. These include:

  • Drinking more water
  • Eating the right energy boosting foods
  • Increasing your exposure to light
  • Taking a walk
  • Talking more with your colleagues
  • Learning to deep breathe
  • Listening to the right kind of music

So, say goodbye to your caffeine habit at work and learn new ways of boosting energy and focus!


When your body is dehydrated, your circulation slows down and your body’s ability to stay energized is hampered. Simply by not hydrating enough, you might be causing yourself to feel sluggish and tired. It can even impact your mood and you’ll end up, not just tired, but also cranky and unmotivated.

This might not just be about drinking less than you should either as office environments could be causing you to dehydrate faster than usual. These environments are often heavily air-conditioned and this can dry out the body faster – you might feel colder than usual in the summer and hotter in the winter.

Therefore, a simple trick to prevent tiredness is to drink more. And before you pour another cup of coffee, stop!

The best drink is water.

Keep a glass of water or a bottle of water on your desk at all times. Get into the habit of taking a sip every 15 minutes. You could even use great apps like Plant Nanny and Waterlogged App to help you drink more and to do it regularly. You’d want to aim to drink at least a liter of water during your workday (you should aim to 2 liters per day).


Eating can also energize you during a workday. But the key here is to eat the right kinds of foods because food can also have the opposite effect and make you experience the dreaded food slump.

You can influence your daily energy by creating the right menu for your breakfast and lunch, including healthier, energizing snacks to your day.

A more energetic day begins with the right breakfast. Studies have shown that the right kind of breakfast has an impact on your performance, mood and even the waistline. So, you don’t want to skip it or opt for a muffin from Starbucks on your way to work!

Healthy breakfast choices: Lean protein: chicken or turkey slices
boiled or fried eggs
Good Carbs: whole wheat
Healthy fats: avocados
peanut butter, nuts

When it comes to lunch, you’d want to fill your day with more protein and healthy fats to boost your energy. You don’t want to fill your plate with many carbs at this point, as they are bound to make you sluggish. A few good vegetables and a dose of fiber will do.

Here are a few great recipe ideas for packed lunch (or you can aim to find these in your cafeteria):

If you do feel like snacking during the day, you should focus on low GI snacks. You want vitamin and mineral rich foods because they provide your body with nutrients. They also release energy at a steadier pace and prevent that slump.

Low GI Snacks

Nuts, such as peanuts and almonds Fruit, like apple and bananas Berries, such as strawberris and blueberries Eggs and dairy, such as Greek yoghurt and cheese Vegetables, such as carrots, celery, and broccoli

Above all, you want to avoid sugar or starchy vegetables, like potatoes and sweets, during the day. High-GI foods like white bread, instant noodles, crackers and cakes are all to be avoided. They’ll cause slump and bloating, making you feel tired and moody. This group of foods and snacks also includes fizzy and energy drinks – it’s best to avoid even the ones with artificial sweetener!


Your body is very susceptive to light and the amount of light exposure you get can have direct consequences on your mood and energy. The body’s internal rhythm called circadian rhythm is affected by light and our bodies automatically start to go in the so-called sleep-mode when light around us decreases.

To stay energetic at work, you want to maximize your exposure to light. Here are a few ways to think about doing this:

Position your desk right

If you’re able to rearrange your office space, you should position the desk as close to natural light as possible. Placing it right next to the window and allowing natural light to shine through can help.

Go outside during the day

Whenever you have a break, go outside. It doesn’t have to be the sunniest of days, as the sunrays will shine through the clouds and being outside will boost your energy.

Opt for artificial light

You can also improve the amount of natural light you use in your office space. Some lamps mimic sunlight and adding one to your desk can help keep your body alert during the day.


You can instantly boost your energy levels with light exercise. When you get up and start moving, your body’s circulation wakes up and this starts helping the body’s different functions to perform better.

In fact, according to a new study, small bursts of exercise are better than caffeine in boosting energy levels and improving motivation.

When you start feeling sluggish and tired, you should get up and go for a brisk walk. You could simply walk to the coffee room and back, drinking water on the go. If you have stairs in the office building, walk them up and down. The best option is to go outside, as fresh air adds to the benefits.

If can’t go for a walk, simply standing up and doing a few lunges can help. You could also lift your knees as high towards your chest as you can one at a time.

You can find other tips to exercise in the office from the YouTube video below:


Sometimes you can get a lot of energy when you spend some time talking to other people. We are social animals and if we spend a lot of our time sitting behind our computers, we can start feeling fatigue and loneliness.

The key to an invigorating conversation is to pick a topic that’s not related to what you are doing at work. You also don’t want to pick a boring mundane topic.

A creative and challenging topic can get your mind moving and your body alert. This could be a business or project idea or a political topic – although you definitely don’t want to get into any office arguments here!

Now, it’s important to point here that some people might feel tired and fatigued because they have to spend all day talking to people. People in professions where you’re almost constantly talking and interacting with others face-to-face might find it helpful to do just the opposite – to go and spend some time alone during the day.

Just being able to let your mind be can boost your energy. You can even try the next tip and practice deep breathing while you’re having a break.


When you’re feeling extremely tired, then taking a moment to breathe and sit still might sound like the last thing you should do! You might just go straight to napping, right?

But deep breathing can actually help you feel more alert. When you’re deep breathing, your body’s blood oxygen level increases. This slows your heart rate and blood pressure, improving circulation. The result is a mind that’s more focused and body that feels energetic.

Here’s a simple deep breathing exercise for you to try at your desk when you feel out of energy:

Step 1 Sit up straight and place one hand on your belly just below the ribs. Put your other hand on your chest.
Step 2 Inhale deeply through your nose. Let your belly push your hand out gently. Your chest should not move.
Step 3 Breathe out through your lips, as if you were trying to whistle. If you want, you can use the hand resting on your belly to push the air out.
Step 4 Repeat the inhale and exhalee ten times.

The key is to inhale to the abdomen and not the chest.


You can also combat sluggishness by listening to some music. Upbeat music has been found to release feel-good hormones in your brain and these will boost your mood and alertness.

In a MindLab study, 9 out of 10 people were found to work better when they were listening to music. It can have a positive impact on your productivity and focus. The test also found that different types of music can have slightly different outcomes. So, it does matter what kind of music you play!

Check out the below video for more about the study and its findings:

One way that music can work involves its ability to help you stay focused. Even though you might be tired, the ambient sounds in the background can help you stop focusing on this tiredness. Time will flow by faster and you end up getting more things done without knowing it!


Caffeine is not a great long-term solution to gaining more energy. If you can’t survive without it, you will have to start looking at your sleeping patterns and increasing the number of hours you sleep.

But you can also try the above non-caffeine solutions to boost your energy levels during the day. These scientifically backed solutions can help you be more productive and motivated without a cup of coffee.

So, pick your ideal solution and try them the next time you find yourself reaching for that coffeepot. By testing out different methods, you’ll find the solutions that work for you.

7 Ways to Stay Awake at Work Without Caffeine

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