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5 Caffeine-Free Ways to Beat the Midday Slump

How to focus, boost energy, and improve productivity—no coffee required.

You’re staring at your computer monitor, watching your mouse cursor blink—it's taunting your efforts to focus. You try your hardest to zone in on your project, but before long, your eyes are falling to the hands of your watch and the staring contest resumes. It’s 3pm. You’re tired. Everyone’s tired. It’s the midday slump that lasts an eternitybut it doesn’t have to. And you don’t need to stick your head in the freezer for a quick jolt either.

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With these simple tips and tricks, you can conquer fatigue and sluggishness. You can remain alert, energetic, and focused all day long by shuffling these five activities into your daily routine. Easy, science-backed pick-me-ups; it doesn’t get any simpler than this. 

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Snack on Dark Chocolate

Stash dark chocolate (at least 60 percent cacao) in your desk drawer for a quick boost. Dark chocolate is chock-full of powerful stimulants that lower blood pressure and widen blood vessels, which helps more blood and oxygen get to key parts of the brain, a Northern Arizona University study found. Just a piece or a bite can improve attention and make you more alert (so don't go too crazy.)

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Listen to Music

Pop on some headphones. According to a study conducted by Mindlab International on behalf of MusicWorks, music is essential for productivity and performance in the workplace. Depending on the type of work you do, there’s even an optimal genre. Listen to classical music if you deal with numbers or need to pay special attention to detail like spell checking; pop music is best for individuals who work on deadlines or data entry; ambient music (like background music or "elevator music") is best for problem-solving professions; and dance music helped study participants earn the highest overall accuracy and fastest performance ratings across all work tasks.

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Sneak in a Midday Workout

Take advantage of your lunch hour and hit the gym, ride a bike, or go for a walk or run. You can increase your energy levels by 20 percent and decrease fatigue by 65 percent just by engaging in regular, low-intensity exercise, according to a University of Georgia study. Exercise has a holistic effect on the body and mind; even if you’re feeling lethargic, after the first few minutes of exercise, you’ll begin to feel a difference in energy levels. 

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Take a Quick Walk

This is harder for city-dwellers, but there’s always a park (or patch of grass) nearby. Find a spot and go there every day—being outside in nature can help you feel more alive, boosting your feelings of vitality, a study from the University of Rochester found. In fact, the energizing effects of the outdoors can even trump that of social interaction and exercise. 

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Chat with a witty co-worker, surf the web for a treadmill-fail video, or hit up Imgur for the latest trending meme. Do anything that will make you laugh—you’ll improve your mood and feel more energized, according to research from the University of Nebraska. 

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