You've hit the slump in your day and reach for the Monster Energy Drink. It's easy to guzzle down, get that zip of energy and charge through the rest of your work day like a champ. Caffeine has benefits, but can be harmful if not taken in moderation. Becoming dependent on caffeine can overload your adrenal glands and you'll find yourself stuck in a cycle of fatigue. If you don't want to rely on a big cup of coffee or energy drink, check out these foods, drinks and lifestyle changes you can make to increase your energy levels.
Drink a big glass of water. Your energy levels might be low because you are dehydrated. Without enough water in your body, your bloodstream could lack oxygen.
Eat a handful of nuts. Nuts and grains are full of vitamin B, which help produce the myelin sheath around nerve cells, which then transmit impulses from the brain. More vitamin B, faster brain impulses! Also, vitamin B12 helps produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body and boosts energy levels.
Green tea. By replacing your morning cup of Joe with a cup of green tea, you are still getting caffeine, just in smaller and healthier amounts. It also has a wealth of antioxidants!
Cat nap. Research has shown that a 20-minute power nap has mightier effects than a jolt of caffeine. Bring back nap time!
Sing for ginseng. The Korean variety of ginseng has been shown to decrease blood sugar levels and improve cognitive performance. Help yourself to herbs the next time you're lacking energy.
Jog. Study after study has shown that a little bit of aerobic exercise will increase your production of endorphins and wake you up! The energizing effects of exercise strongly rival that of caffeine.
Meditate. Set aside some time in the morning or in the middle of your day to mindfully try and reduce stress. Yoga, a form of active meditation, leads to improved strength, flexibility and mental clarity.
Nut butter. No, not a Nutter Butter! Peanut butter, almond butter, sunflower butter... all of these are great sources of protein. Toast a piece of whole grain bread and spread on a scoop of a nut butter in replacement of your afternoon coffee.
Maca. Hot maca has adrenal boosting properties without the crash afterward. Warm up a glass of milk or almond milk and add a couple tablespoons of maca powder!
Turn on a light. You may not have even realized that the sun set long ago and you're still glued to your desk. Wake up your brain with a desk lamp, a "false sun rise," if you will.
Sit up straight. Good posture goes a long way, and doesn't just realign your back. It realigns your focus! Sitting up straight will help oxygen flow more fluidly through the bloodstream.
>> Read more: Straight Up: Get Your Posture Back On Track
Chew mint flavored gum. By smacking on a piece of gum, your heart rate increases, as does the flow of oxygen to your brain! The added flavor of mint will reawaken your nerve fibers.
Sink your hands in the dirt. Yes, you read that right. Research has shown that time spent outdoors increases your energy levels more than time indoors. Skin-to-earth contact with the soil can fight oxidative stress, and in turn, energize you!
Laugh hysterically. You might want to step out of the office for this one. But, laughing increases blood flow to the brain and releases endorphins! You'll wake your body up in a positive manner, and as an added bonus, feel some of your stress float away.
Cold shower. If you wake up and already feel a groggy day coming on, take a cold shower. As cold as you can handle. It will be a jolt of energy to your skin and nerves!
Ten-minute walk. Instead of ingesting sugary foods for that quick burst of energy, stretch your legs and get the blood flowing. In a study conducted by Robert Thayer, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, researchers found that there is a direct correlation between steps taken and overall mood and energy levels.
Eat iron-rich foods. Iron is needed to deliver oxygen to cells, and too little of it can result in consistent sluggish feelings. Nearly 10 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 49 are iron-deficient. Foods containing iron are nuts, spinach, oysters and dark chocolate! (via Health.com)
Eat a banana. Not only are bananas great for relieving cramps, but they're also rich in carbohydrates, which are the body's main source of energy! Eating carbohydrate-rich foods boosts your glycogen levels and increases your energy.
Eat some chocolate. Cocoa has natural caffeine in it, but the flavonoids are the real stars here. Flavonoids have been shown to boost cognition and improve moods!
Add greenery. House plants can filter out pollutants and harmful chemicals, which can drain energy levels and cause headaches. Adding some green color around the office could diminish those risks.
>> Check out these 10 indoor plants that will help you breathe easier.
Think fast. Learning something new or reading quickly may help the rest of your body quicken its pace as well. Thinking quickly may help you be more creative and more self-assured, says one study.
Sniff a lemon. Lemon oil is an essential oil with proven benefits, and getting a good waft of it could stimulate brain activity.
Strike up a conversation. Stimulating conversation can be just that: stimulating!
Power up with red. Studies have shown that the color red is associated with self-confidence and increase motivation toward success. Maybe keep some roses or red sticky notes by your computer.
Eat lunch away from your desk. You're more likely to overeat when you stay at your desk and chow down. Getting away from the office for a quick walk or sandwich at the corner deli could help you refocus.
Nix the night brews. Alcohol prevents your body from entering the most restful sleep phase, REM sleep. Your body may not be getting adequate rest when you have alcohol induced sleep. (via Men's Fitness)
Hanky panky. You and your hubby both work only five minutes from home? Oh, how convenient! Couples who have sex often have better physical health and clearer cognition. Your lunch break just got a lot more interesting.
>> Read more: Seven Days of Sexy: Mini Sex Challenge
Pump up your ego. Take five minutes and create a decent sized list of things you love about yourself. Having more self confidence will let you take on the world with more energy.
Be vibrant. Wear bright colors, always keep a smile on your face and stay positive. Keeping a bright outlook on life will increase your energy due to less stress and psychological problems.