Some weeks, we just feel like our bodies are dragging, and we over-rely on coffee for a pick-me-up that can turn into a midday slump (ugh). We think to ourselves that there has to be something other than caffeine to do the trick—and that happens to be where natural energy boosters come into the picture. You see, coffee actually has its own benefits, but chugging too much can make you feel sick and all-out jittery.
And you’re not alone when it comes to feeling like you’re never quite awake enough. “We have an energy crisis of historic proportions going on,” says Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, an internist and fatigue expert. “We are reaching for anything that will give us energy—and we’re over-relying on coffee now more than ever.” But are there actually coffee alternatives that will give you the energy you need to get life done, especially on tough days? You bet. Scroll down to see our favorites and the science behind why they do the trick. Be sure to try them the next time you need to power up.
Smell some rosemary
This herb’s actually believed to be a stimulant, and its scent is more than recognizable. The next time you’re experiencing a lull in energy, take a few sniffs of dried rosemary or rosemary oil to do the trick. A 2013 study found that rosemary as aromatherapy awakened the senses. According to the study, “All the data has collectively shown a medicinal benefit of rosemary oil when inhaled, by the removal of feelings of boredom and by providing fresh mental energy.”
Have two glasses of icy water
According to the editors at Reader’s Digest, your slump may actually be due to dehydration (uh-oh). To remedy it, drink not one but two glasses of super-cold water to hydrate up. And why icy versus lukewarm? “The refreshing coldness will serve as a virtual slap in the face,” the editors say in their book Stealth Health.
Chew peppermint gum
The combination of mint and the energy from chewing will be effective in giving your mood a lift. A 2012 study in the UK found that those who chomped on some gum for 15 minutes felt more awake than those who didn’t. It “stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which can increase alertness,” says Andy Smith, Ph.D., who wrote the study. And what about the mint? “Mint stimulates your nerve fibers—it’s kind of like splashing cold water on your face,” Teitelbaum explains.
Sip on a juice
Do you order a juice packed with veggies when you’re feeling under the weather for a jolt of energy? It does the same thing when you’re healthy, too. “Drinking fresh vegetable juice is a shock to your body—in a good way,” says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS. When veggies are juiced, the fiber is removed, which makes it easier for your body to get all of the nutrients (and leaves you with extra energy so you feel a boost).
Eat chia seeds
Make like the Aztec and Mayan warriors and eat some chia seeds to keep yourself energized (even though you’re not actually going into battle). Sprinkle them on your favorite yogurt or opt for them plain. A few hints: The fatty acids in this food regulate your glands and keep adrenal fatigue at bay (plus ward off inflammation) to naturally liven you up, says Axe.
Have a stretch
There’s a reason stretching feels so good, especially first thing in the morning. If you know yoga, do a few poses. If not, reach out and get your body started with some leg extensions and lengthening moves. “You’re moving the circulatory system and awakening the nervous system—basically bringing new life into the body,” says Vyda Bielkus, a yoga instructor and the founder of the Health Yoga Life studio.