How I've Learned To Energize Without Coffee

With the semester almost over, I have not yet learned how to resist the freedom of binge-watching late in the evening when I should be in bed already for my 8am class the following day. Nor have I yet resisted taking naps in the afternoon when they actually counterintuitively make me fuzzy and drowsy. Consequently, I have experienced several occasions where I am in desperate need to energize in hopes to accomplish studying and finishing homework before falling into a state where it is virtually impossible to focus and remain awake.

Unfortunately, I am one of those unlucky people where coffee does not wake me up. Hence, with finals approaching soon, I am on a mission to seek for techniques that can actually wake me up. With those who struggle with this dilemma where coffee and napping does not achieve its purpose, or those who are trying to give up coffee, maybe these ways will help you too.

1. Go outside

Thoughts beforehand: With winter approaching soon, this tactic does not seem appealing, particularly since I shiver easily in the cold. But perhaps this is actually good thing? With the cold, fresh air, I anticipate that my face and hands will become somewhat numb. But if this method actually works, then the pain will be worth it. It is for the greater good of myself.

Experiment: Over the past week, I had several opportunities to walk to my classes with the wind slapping me in the face and the sky looking bleak. It’s safe to say, this was not my favorite method. Surprisingly, this method did not wake me up. However, I did feel mentally refreshed and more prepared.

2. Get physical

Thoughts beforehand: Already, I have been on the mission to exercise more frequently. However, if I were to change one thing, it would be to exercise earlier. Normally, I go to the gym around 8:30pm because it makes sense to use exercising as a way to wind down. However, soon afterwards, I find it hard to go to sleep- thus making me somewhat sleep deprived. I am curious to see how exercising in the morning would impact my energy level.

Experiment: I woke up at 9am and already regretted my decision. After going to the gym, I definitely noticed an energy boost. However, I think that situational factors also played a role in energizing me, such as I took a quick shower and rushed to my first class. Nevertheless, the combination of the gym session and stress kept me going for my morning class. However, afterwards, I was to ready crash and took a nap for two hours! So yes, getting physical works, but as for me, exercising works better at night. But hey, each to their own.

3. Call your mom

Thoughts beforehand: Truth to be told, I hate phone calls in general. So in this case, I will count FaceTiming equivalent to phone calling.

Experiment: As I was working on this article, my sister randomly FaceTimed me and upon answering, my family bombarded me with questions about the earthquake that occurred in Dover, Delaware. I ended up chatting with my family for quite a bit and while it was tremendously heartwarming to see all of my pets and family, I did not notice a change in my energy level. But truth to be told, it is better to procrastinate by FaceTiming than merely idling around on the Internet.

4. Dance!

Thoughts beforehand: I have used dancing before as a method, but I am terrible at self-control when it comes to stopping and proceeding with my schoolwork. However, if I do not have schoolwork to do, I do not see the problem of dancing away.

Experiment: My roommate and I were getting ready to go out in broad daylights. Meaning, it was only around 3pm. However, I was so deadbeat tired from the semi-formal I went to the previous night. Thus, I used this opportunity to put on upbeat music and dance idiotically while putting on makeup. While I got physically more tired, I did get mentally more energetic. So this method does work, but it depends on how tired you were initially before dancing.

5. Oil it up (via aromatherapy)

Thoughts beforehand: As I am typing this, I have a small bottle that contains spearmint oil. I have barely used it, especially for the purpose to energize. I have low expectations for this method, partially because I do not know if spearmint oil is the right kind of essential oil to use for energizing. However, Bath and Body Works and other stores like this one do have oils for skin and maybe there’s a scent out there proven for energy.

Experiment: Before applying the spearmint essential oil, I found that it helps with mental and physical fatigue along with other things such as headaches and nervousness. When I applied the oil, I could not get over how the oil smelled. Certainly, it smelled like spearmint, but amplified and worse. Once I got over the smell, I actually found myself feeling more relaxed and focused. For me, this is an interesting combination because with relaxation comes tiredness but with focus comes energy. The two canceled each other out so ultimately, I felt a very slight increase in my energy. Overpowering my change in energy was the increase in my ability to focus. So although the oil did not give me a beneficial amount of energy, the lack of energy is counteracted by the increase in concentration, which is better than nothing and helpful when drowsiness kicks in and makes studying a struggle.

6. Change your position

Thoughts beforehand: It seems silly and suspicious that merely changing the way I sit will re-energize me. It does make sense in some cases, such as if I sit on my bed, become too relaxed and fall asleep. But I try to do homework at my desk and it is virtually impossible to get comfortable on my desk chair besides from sitting on my legs, which I do often.

Experiment: It was about 12:30am,] and thus I had already regretted staying up so late since I had an 8am class that day. At this point, I would do anything to stay up, but certainly I refused to chug Red Bull for the fear that I would start having heart palpitations. So, I decided to sit backwards in my chair. Long story short, I do not see the point. It was uncomfortable to sit in this particular way and my roommate laughed at me. But I guess this method ultimately worked despite its cons. Moreover, since it was uncomfortable, I was prevented from becoming relaxed and falling asleep.

7. Stimulate your brain

Thoughts beforehand: Every now and then, boredom from schoolwork drives me to the point where I resort to watching Netflix. Rarely do I take a break to stimulate my break by doing things such as Sudoku and coloring. This method shall be interesting.

Experiment: I ended up doing Sudoku and solitaire. While it was nice to be distracted from schoolwork, I got frustrated whenever I was not progressing further in my games. Needless to say, I ended up more stressed and tired than before, therefore making this method not helpful for me. But perhaps, there are better ways to stimulate your brain, such as doing crosswords, so I cannot ultimately say this method does not work. Different things work for different people. As for me, Sudoku and solitaire do not work.

8. Listen to upbeat music

Thoughts beforehand: I absolutely love upbeat music. In translation, this means that once I start listening to music, I will fall into the constant trap of promising myself to only to listen to one more song, only to end up listening to the next song.

Experiment: Hence, my habit continued. I returned back to my dorm late at the night after the gym and was extremely energized and thus procrastinated for a long time. The next thing I knew, it was 1am and I barely got anything done. Thus, I turned to upbeat music – my love. I ended up wasting time by listening to music and getting completely distracted. Yes, I did get energized, but I also got energized to sing and dance around, not do schoolwork, defeating its purpose.

9. Chew gum

Thoughts beforehand: I have a habit of chewing gum, regardless if I am tired or not. I have never consciously analyzed the correlation between chewing gum and my energy level.

Experiment: I was chewing my favorite gum flavor, which is spearmint. While chewing did not necessarily give me more energy, it prevented me from getting more tired. I believe that it is because of the process of stimulating my muscles to chew. The mint also awakes my senses for sure. In consideration, this method helps when it comes to fatigue.

10.  Drink iced water

Thoughts beforehand: I am one of those people at restaurants where I wince when I drink iced water. Ice is my enemy that loves to take advantage of my sensitive teeth. I only see this method as bringing forth misery, not energy.

Experiment: I rolled out of my bed for my 8am class and already, I regretted waking up early. I grumpily walked over to the dining hall and grabbed a large cup of iced water. Keep in mind, it was already cold that morning. Trying to not hold my frigid cup in one hand for too long, I sipped from a straw and braced myself. Surprisingly, it was not bad! I have to say, this method works. One criticism though is that the effect of being energized from iced water lasts short periods of time.

11.  Watch comedy online

Thoughts beforehand: I love watching comedy videos, including Family Feud. But knowing myself, if I am on YouTube, I will fall into the trap of clicking on other videos and find myself hours later looking at the most irrelevant, random things.

Experiment: Naturally, I ended up watching hilarious answers that have occurred on Family Feud. But then I got distracted and started watching random videos such as grandmas talking to their granddaughter about dating and sex. Needless to say, when it comes to YouTube in general, I always unintentionally end up wasting at least an hour that could have been well spent on productive things or sleep. For those who can resist enticing titles, this method can certainly work at bringing forth energy as laughing definitely forces you to wake up a little bit.

12.  Pump some adrenaline

Thoughts beforehand: I absolutely hate horror videos and movies with a burning passion. Just thinking about watching this particular genre makes me hesitant.  

Experiment: While watching two videos, which was all I could tolerate in order to not have nightmares, all I did was sweat. Seriously- pumping my adrenaline resulted in sweating- not energizing. I guess I am too much of a scaredy cat to use horror to my advantage.

It was quite an interesting ride attempting to try as many methods as I could in one week. I figured out what worked and what did not work for me personally. I admire people who can drink coffee or energy drinks and feel a surge of energy. With these methods, the closest times I got to obtaining the energy level equivalent to coffee drinkers’ energy level was when I got physical via going to the gym or dancing.

But of course, these methods are not as socially acceptable as drinking coffee. Meaning, it is socially unacceptable to blast music and dance in a library. Plus, you would probably feel a real sense of shame. That being said, I can see how changing your position is an easy fix when you have no choice but to sit silently during classes, studying and testing. As I did, I would encourage my fellow readers to do the same experiment to learn what works and what does not so that the next time you are up at 2am or nowhere near coffee houses, you can function without coffee and turn to your go-to method.