Whether you prefer a double shot latté or a cup of black tea, caffeine can be a regular part of our daily routine. This isn’t necessarily bad – a coffee run can be part of your self-care plan, or a way to catch up with friends – but for those looking to cut back on their caffeine intake, here are a few ideas that may help.
1. Snack smart
When our bodies are fatigued, we tend to crave carb-rich foods. While sweets, breads and pastas may satisfy our cravings and give us a small burst of energy, they can leave us feeling groggier after the fact. Instead, opt for snacks that have some carbs paired with protein or fats. Here are some snack ideas to try:
Pairing carbs with proteins or fats will help you feel fuller for longer. They also provide a more sustained source of energy, so you won’t experience a sugar crash in the middle of class.
2. Get moving
Physical activity can help us feel more alert and awake, especially if you experience dips in your energy level throughout the day. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do a full-blown workout to get yourself going. Talking a walk, going at an easy pace on the elliptical and stretching can all help you get the blood moving. You can schedule a workout at The Rec, take a lap around the block or go for a casual bike ride. You’ll still get your body moving, and it can serve as a small break from studying.
3. Take a nap
If you’re tired during the day, consider taking a short nap between classes. Napping for 15 to 30 minutes has been shown to improve mood and alertness during the day. Opt for a quiet place to hit snooze. Just don't forget to set your alarm!
4. Breathe it in
Smell has a powerful effect on our minds. If you’re looking for a caffeine substitute, aromatherapy may be the next best thing. By mixing different oils together, you can create your own custom creations for everything from energy, to focus or sleep. Here is a combination you can try to feel more energized:
Lemon Eucalyptus Peppermint
Mix 1-3 drops of essential oil in a spray bottle with water and spray your gym bag, shoes and yoga mat before your next workout.
Mix 1-3 drops of essential oil into your shampoo or conditioner when showering in the morning for an energizing scent throughout the day. You can also add a few drops to your favorite lotion.
Need help building your own aromatherapy kit? Health Promotion offers free aromatherapy samples and recipes at their office on the third floor of Wardenburg. Full-size bottles are also available for purchase at the Apothecary Pharmacy.
5. Set yourself up for success
While these quick fixes may be helpful in the moment, feeling awake comes down to our habits. To feel more rested, try getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You may want to consider setting a relaxing nighttime routine to help you get better sleep. For instance, try putting your phone and computer away at least one hour before you plan to go to bed. These devices can stimulate your brain and make it more difficult to relax. Instead, opt for activities that help your body calm down. This may include reading a book, listening to relaxing music, taking a shower or following a meditation.
If you need help improving your sleep habits, check out the free Healthy Living workshop series from Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS). This series is available every Wednesday from 12 to 1 p.m. and covers topics like sleep, nutrition, stress management and more.