I've mentioned it in previous posts, and plenty of friends have marveled at it (especially after witnessing me seemingly get only an hour or two of sleep balancing studying and socializing and sorority life for multiple days at a time...) but people's reactions never get old when I tell that I don't drink caffeine - and I haven't since I was 15 years old.
Part of this is because I have had horrible problems sleeping for as long as I can remember, so I try to avoid anything that would antagonize those issues, but a lot of it is that I've gone without it for so long that things like caffeine (especially the acidic effect of coffee or carbonated beverages) really bother my body now that I've gone without them for so long and I'm not used to them.
Now that I am officially in the exhaustive pattern of 40 hour work weeks, trying to make the most of my short-lived weekend time, sticking to a consistent workout routine and still making time for hobbies, chores, errands, and catching up with friends during the week - even writing the list makes me feel sleepy and run down.
So what everyone always asks is: how do I still manage to seem so energized and motivated (most of the time). I wouldn't say I have it mastered, and I definitely have my fair share of moments throughout my day that feel like I could finally master sleeping with my eyes open (zzzz...) But I do have a couple tips and tricks up my sleeve for the ways I cope without caffeine:
Stop Hitting Snooze
This is a habit I never got into. I set two alarms every day, one for when I need to start waking up, and one for five minutes later when it's time to finish pulling myself out of my snooze and rub my eyes and officially get out of bed. It might be hard to stick to a schedule like this in the beginning, but once you get used to knowing that you get two alarms only, it's really not that hard to avoid hitting that snooze button!
Any variety of citrus can really help energize you and start your day off right. My personal favorite is to make a glass or pitcher of water every night before bed infused with lemons or other citrus so I get a little kick out of my morning glass of water. In the winter, citrus or lemon teas are also one of my absolute favorite ways to start my morning.
Skip hitting snooze, and press play instead. Once I've gotten out of bed and brushed my teeth, I always play an energizing and upbeat song while i get ready to start my day. (Yes, there are definitely moments where this can be annoyingly upbeat for so early, but it is a mind over matter thing - just convince yourself to get into the music and you'll start to feel better right away!
I try to start every morning and afternoon with something that will wake my brain up and keep it stimulated, especially on my commute to work on the train. Typically this will entail either playing a game on my phone that requires focus or speed, or reading on my Kindle app while listening to music. The sooner you get your mind active after waking up, the easier it will be to make it stay that way.
Last Resort - Go for the Sugar Kick
This is not exactly the healthiest alternative or the most recommended, but when I get to my most desperate moments (like a long rainy Monday afternoon), a sugary fruit or juice drink can sometimes be just the thing I need. My personal favorite is Iced Passion Tea Lemonade from Starbucks - so delicious and refreshing!
I know some of these tips might seem a little obvious, or like there is no freaking way they could ever replace that oh-so-addictive morning cup(s) or coffee some people are so accustomed to, but I've had a couple friends try cutting out the caffeine for Lent and replacing them with these tips and they all said they felt better, slept better, and were more energized after about 10-12 days of sticking to it!
If you've been meaning to cut back on the caffeine or cut it out for a while, I challenge you to give it a try and push yourself to cope without it. You'll be amazed at how refreshed you feel!