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As collegiettes, we’re always looking for ways to get more energy. Between work, classes, and socializing, life can get pretty hectic. In response, we often rely on caffeinated drinks to keep us going. Welcome to a world of steamy double espressos and ice cold Redbull cans. Sure, everyone knows that caffeine can give you a much-needed jolt, but at what cost? It can also cause headaches, breakouts, and mood swings, just to name a few negative side effects..

There has to be a better, healthier way to get energy without all that unnecessary caffeine clogging your system. Problem solved. HC has gathered the best ways to boost your alertness without the consequences of a caffeine overload. Read on for guilt-free ways to get more energy. Now, you can go out next weekend and stay awake during your Monday morning chem lab!
Have a Protein-Filled Snack

Feeling drowsy? Nosh on a protein-packed snack! This is a simple but effective way to keep yourself going throughout the day. Think crunchy apple slices with creamy peanut butter, turkey roll-ups with string cheese, or almonds and dried fruit. If you’re crunched for time, pick up a smoothie with a protein boost – most places offer free “boosts.” Jamba Juice has a great energy one that has B vitamins in it to help physical and mental stamina. Bonus: it helps your metabolism too! Northeastern Junior Marian Smith opts for these delicious drinks on a regular basis. “When I get hungry in between meals, I always go for a smoothie because it’s healthy and satisfying. The healthy fruit sugar keeps me alert during lectures and it’s perfect to sip during class!”

Pop a B Vitamin

Vitamin B deficiency has been linked to low energy levels, among other things. In fact, mood changes, poor concentration, anxiety, and depression can all be signs of a vitamin B deficiency. So if you’re feeling tired regularly, try popping a B-complex vitamin. Most grocers and health food stores carry a variety of brands that you can choose from. Another option is to take a multivitamin, which will help ensure that you’re not deficient in other minerals or nutrients. For the best results, take your multivitamin during a meal – preferably breakfast. According to NutriHealth, the nutrients are better absorbed when mixed with the healthy fat in your food.


Try a Quick Workout

When you’re tired, hitting the gym is the last thing you want to do. But studies show that a short sweat session can kick up your energy levels for the rest of the day. According to Fitness Magazine, you don’t need to pound the treadmill for an hour – a quick jog around the block will do. Feeling unmotivated? Pop in some headphones, cue up your favorite upbeat tunes, and hit the pavement! If you want to stay in your room, a quick set of 25 jumping jacks can help give you a boost.

Take A Cold Shower

Hot showers are the best for relaxing and winding down. But if your goal is to do the opposite, consider changing the temperature. Cold water stimulates your system and speeds up circulation, resulting in a more alert you. Don’t want to give up the soothing heat completely? Try taking a regular shower, then cooling it down for the last 5 minutes or so. It’ll still do wonders for your mental awareness. “I admit that I love taking hot showers,” says UCLA sophomore Emma S. “But they always put me to sleep. So when I want to feel energized, I stick with cold water and save the heat for right before bed.” Really not into the cold shower thing? Splash cold water on your face for a midday refresher.

Eat Smaller, More Frequent Meals

According to Terri Fant-Franklin, a nutritionist at Kaiser Permanente, changing your eating habits can greatly increase your energy levels. “Having smaller, more frequent meals will keep your calorie flow at a more even pace which helps with energy,” Fant-Franklin says. Heavy meals often leave us feeling drowsy, while smaller portions can have the opposite effect. Try to avoid sugary drinks, which are often loaded with caffeine and additives. Chances are, you’ll end up crashing later.

Go To Sleep 20 Minutes Earlier

It’s easy to procrastinate during the day and put off homework and last-minute studying until the wee hours of the night. But this pushes your bedtime back later and later. Before you know it, you wake up on four hours’ worth of sleep, tired and cranky. Let’s just say that this situation is less than ideal. But there’s a simple and effective way to change your habits. Instead of being unrealistic and wishing you could sleep through that 8 am calculus exam, take action the night before. Aim to hit the sack 20-30 minutes earlier and chances are, you’ll end up getting significantly more sleep. “I hate taking naps,” says University of Oregon student Mary H. “But going to bed a little earlier each night is pretty doable. I wake up more refreshed for all of my morning classes.”


Take a Walk

Taking a brisk stroll has similar effects to working out. According to WebMD, moving your body (even at a slow pace) will have you feeling more alert in just minutes. Since the weather has cooled down, the chilly winter air will also help wake up your senses. Worried you’ll get bored? Grab your camera and snap photos of the beautiful fall foliage you see along the way. You can also incorporate this tip into your daily routine by walking to class or work instead of taking the bus or driving. Bonus: a leisurely walk is great for clearing up brain fog, which can result from hours spent at a desk or too much computer time. So next time you need a break from doing work or studying, head outside. 

Get A (Reflexology) Massage

In the practice of reflexology, your hands and feet are filled with pressure points that relate to specific areas of the body. For example, the top part of your thumbs correlates with your pituitary gland. Massages generally leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, but reflexology takes things one step further and pinpoints specific areas that need work. According to The American Reflexology Certification Board, the practice helps restore balance to the body. Try making an appointment with a specialist or give yourself a quick massage (or recruit a friend to) for a DIY midday pick-me-up. Apply pressure to the different areas on your hands and feet, alternating to stimulate multiple organs. It’ll double as a mental break, preparing you for the rest of your busy day!

Talk It Out

Next time you’re feeling down and tired, try talking to a friend. Studies show that chatting can help make you feel more alert. Being socially disconnected can trickle into other areas of your life, resulting in negative thoughts and lower levels of productivity. Catching up on gossip will pique your interest and keep you going. Friends too busy to talk? Calling someone works too! Dial your mom’s cell and catch up on the latest family news. “I usually call my mom when I’m feeling bummed out,” says University of Maryland freshman Ashlie. “She always seems to know what to say to help get me through the rest of my day.” 


The mind is a powerful tool. It’s been proven that visualization exercises can help bring you closer to achieving your goals. A recent Miller-McCune article discusses the many benefits of meditation. Next time you’re feeling zapped for energy, try this simple exercise: sit on a chair with your back straight and your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and envision yourself feeling positive and energized. Take deep breaths and keep your posture strong. Before long, you’ll have an increased sense of mental and physical awareness.

Wake up, collegiettes!

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Dani Wong is a sophomore at the University of San Francisco, where she is double majoring in media studies and journalism. After her short story was published in a recent book, she decided to explore a new facet of writing and became involved with student newspapers and magazines. Between interning, taking classes, and exploring San Francisco, Dani is embracing the new opportunities that city life brings. Her true loves include traveling, taking photographs, playing sports and anything food related!