Around 3 p.m. every day, like clockwork, my energy tanks.
Coffee, the obvious remedy, temporarily fixes the problem. But research proves late-afternoon coffee may cause sleep deprivation, which has detrimental effects on daytime function. Not good.
So I set out on a quest: How can I gain mid-afternoon energy without relying on coffee?
After a year of experimentation, I finally figured out how. It's a five-minute process, proven by Harvard psychologists and world-class health experts, to revitalize our minds.
It's the ultimate mental reset technique, which leaves me bouncing with energy, clear-minded, and ready to finish the day strong. No caffeine. No intense workouts. Just a five-minute process, broken up into three sections:
Here's how (and why) it works.
The Three-Step Routine That'll Give You an Energy Boost and Replace Your Afternoon Coffee
1) Two minutes: Assume the (power) position
Amy Cuddy, a Harvard social psychologist, conducted groundbreaking research that revealed our body language can alter our brain's chemistry. By "power posing" we experience a 20% boost in testosterone (the confidence hormone) and 25% decrease in cortisol (the stress hormone).
For two minutes, do one of the following power postures:
I'd suggest the hands on the table or hands on the hips. Those work best for me.
2) One minute: Pushups until exhaustion
After two minutes of power postures, our testosterone will be raised. Thus, I next do as many pushups as possible in a row, then stop. Whether that's for 10, 20, 30, or 100 pushups. It doesn't matter. The point is to physically exhaust myself until I can't go any longer.
Doing intensive pushups sends a flood of endorphins to our brain, ignites blood flow, and boosts adrenaline. It’s not enough exercise to sweat, so it doesn’t matter if we're in a suit or jeans.
If you are in an office, find an empty room. If you’re at home, hop off the couch. If you’re in a coffee shop, go to the nearest park.
3) Two minutes: Eyes closed, deep breathing
We've boosted testosterone and adrenaline, so we're feeling alert. The final step is focused on improving mental clarity.
For this step, I close my eyes and count each in-and-out breath as one repetition. I try to focus on only my breath. If I think of something else, I just let it drift away and go back to focusing on my breathing. I breath so deep that if someone was sitting next to me, they could hear me.
I breath in for 5 seconds, hold it for 5 seconds, then out for 5 seconds (a total of 15 seconds). I do this 10 times, which equates to about two minutes.
If you're wondering, yes, this is essentially meditation. According to Mayo Clinic, a world-leading medical research facility, meditation will increase focus, reduce stress, and produce greater creativity. It's the ultimate reset for our minds.
Because here's my philosophy on meditation: I wouldn’t go a day without cleaning my teeth, so why would I go a day without cleansing my mind? [click to tweet]
Five minutes later, I feel like a new person.
After I complete my power pose, pushups, and meditation … then open my eyes … I’m amazed at the total transformation of my physical and mental state.
I can step back into a meeting, a project, or a phone call with a refreshed perspective. As soon as I feel like I am slipping into lethargy, I rerun this five-minute reset program. It boosts energy even faster than my 15-minute Spartan Monk morning routine.
I challenge you to attempt this 5-minute routine today or tomorrow when you feel that mid-afternoon exhaustion kicking in.
It's amazing how well it replaces afternoon coffee. Give it a try!
Editor's note: This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.
Originally published May 12, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated June 15 2021