15 Healthy Methods to Stay Alert at Work

If you work in a sedentary job (sitting in front of a computer, at a desk, for several hours a day), you may have experienced the feeling of tiredness, a lack of motivation or drowsiness.

Feeling sleepy at work is not an uncommon occurrence, even if you get enough sleep at night. Why do we feel tired so often? There are many factors that affect our energy levels, such as a lack of proper movement, staring at screens, a lack of fresh air, monotonous work and more.

So, what do we do in response? The majority of us drink coffee, as it is the fastest and simplest way to wake up (or at least feel more alert). Caffeine can indeed improve the situation but it isn’t always the most effective and healthiest method to boost your energy, it may even worsen the situations in a few hours. Although some people do find caffeine to be useful, often when it’s combined with l-theanine (an amino acid naturally found in tea).

We would like to share some healthy alternatives on how you can fight drowsiness, restore your energy levels and prevent that sleepy feeling in the future:

  1. Get some fresh air: A lack of oxygen and movement may be a significant factor in making you feel sleepy. Consider going for a short walk outside. Fresh air and natural light can brighten you up and improve your mood, the walking activity will pump more oxygen to your brain so it will work better.
  2. Make the temperature slightly colder inside: Lower temperatures are better when it comes to stimulating brain activity. If you notice it’s getting too hot inside, consider taking off the upper layer of your clothing (if you’re wearing something underneath of course), regulate the temperature with an air conditioner or just find a cooler place.
  3. Drink water to avoid dehydration: Drink enough pure water to avoid dehydration and drink a little more in warmer seasons. To add additional benefits and a better refreshing effect, add lemon or oranges to it as well, or some herbs like mint to make it tastier. The lemon water will hydrate you better, as it provides electrolytes to the body, positively affects the skin and delivers vitamin C to your body.
  4. Change your position: Due to the lack of proper movement and long lasting sitting positions, certain parts of the body especially the back, neck and legs experience significant tension. Consider changing your position periodically, working at a standing desk, using a kneeling chair, or a bean bag, where you can stretch your legs etc. This will revive proper blood circulation to strained areas.
  5. Do some exercises: Taking short breaks to go for a walk is good but might not be enough to wake you up. Find some space in the office for a more serious training session where you can do push-ups, squats, or handstands. You can also find plenty of videos online on how to exercise by utilizing a small area next to your workplace using a desk or a chair. Just 10 minutes of training will improve your energy levels and brain activity. There are even effective (high intensity) seven minute workouts which can be found online.
  6. Walk up and down the stairs: If there is no way you can find a space for exercises and you don’t feel comfortable doing it in front of colleagues, or you’re wearing inconvenient clothes, try to walk up and down the stairs. It’s more effective than walking and can be a worthy alternative to a short training.
  7. Avoid eating a heavy lunch: A heavy lunch containing a lot of carbohydrates and fat can easily make us feel sleepy and unproductive for the several hours. If you notice your meal portion is too large and you are already full before finishing it, leave the rest or keep it for later. If you’re full but you’re at a restaurant for lunch during the work day, then ask them to pack it for you.
  8. Talk to a colleague: Conversations often help us feel more awake or alert, even if it’s just slightly, especially if they touch upon exciting topics or make you laugh. Just remember to keep the conversation short enough, as you have work to do.
  9. Take up the most engaging tasks among those you have: Sometimes, if we do some form of monotonous work, we feel bored, so our enthusiasm and willingness to work drops significantly. If the task you are working on isn’t urgent, take up another that you feel more excited about. Such a change might help to bring your ardour back.
  10. Stretch your neck and shoulder muscles: If you don’t have time to walk around or exercise, do some neck stretching, you can even do it sitting behind your desk, in front of the computer. Slight muscle stretching will help you to relax the most tensed muscles improving the blood supply of your brain and as a result, its activity.
  11. Find some time for relaxation or meditation: If you are tired of work or had a bad sleep last night, stimulating your body to wake up might not be the smartest decision. Instead, find a quiet place or put on headphones, close your eyes and let yourself relax or meditate for 10-15 minutes, or even have a short nap.
  12. Replace coffee with an organic tea: You might have heard that coffee isn’t the most healthy drink, as it may lead to osteoporosis, diarrhoea, anxiety, heart diseases, etc. Instead of consuming regular coffee several times a day, change it to a tea. Tea also contain caffeine to keep you awake, but it also has a lot of antioxidants to keep you looking fresh and feeling better. Besides, tea is also known to be a good hydrator, stress reducer and immune system booster.
  13. Take a day off: If the feeling of tiredness and drowsiness repeats over and over, consider taking a day off or even decide on a vacation (you mightn’t have taken one for a while). Spend this time on things you really enjoy or need like travelling somewhere you’ve been planning for a long time, reading a good book or just getting enough sleep.
  14. Eat food that gives you energy: You might have noticed, that often, after eating some food, especially fast-burning carbohydrates, we start to feel sleepy. Try to pay attention to which food negatively affects your energy levels and which one peps you up. We advise you limit high-glycemic carbohydrates such as sweet buns, pasta, cakes, corn meals and replace them with nuts, beans, fruits and non starchy vegetables like asparagus, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.
  15. Take few deep breaths: This is simple but powerful advice. Take ten strong deep breaths and see how you feel. Some researchers say that these kinds of breathing exercises improve cognitive abilities and boosts energy.

Let us know if there are any other healthy ways to stay awake that we might have missed. Which method works best for you? If you’re interested in sharing your experiences with us or writing a guest post for us, send us an email via contact@mudita.com!

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