Stay Sharp in Meetings
November 5th, 2021 / Lifestyle Medicine, Physical Fitness, Nutrition
It’s time for that big (or long) meeting and you know it’s going to take all your mental energy, whether that’s to be sure your team is impressed by your fantastic ideas, or you just want to be sure you don’t doze off. Many of us are in the habit of grabbing a cup of coffee before we head in, for a mental boost from the caffeine.
Caffeine is an interesting compound. It stimulates the central nervous system and is a known nootropic, or cognitive enhancer. It can make you feel more alert, awake, and can improve cognition, memory, and learning temporarily, but it can also cause a crash, as well as jitters, nervousness, anxiety, sweating, and a racing heart in some people. Not a great look for the office. People with irritable bowel syndrome may also find that caffeine is an irritant, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea—not something you want happening in the middle of your meeting. It’s also a stressor to the adrenal glands. If you are under a lot of stress—and I know the kinds of meetings that are stressful!–caffeine is generally something to avoid, as it can make stress feel even worse due to the way it increases the level of the stress hormone cortisol.
Instead of a stimulant with all these downsides, you can get clean quick energy in better ways than that basic cup of coffee. These are my favorite ways to boost energy before I have to be sharp (or at least awake):
- Go for a walk. A brisk 10-minute walk outside in the 30 minutes before the meeting can be more energizing and mood-boosting than caffeine.
- 2 minute breath exercise. Deep breathing is generally relaxing, but when you keep the inhale longer than the exhale, it’s energizing. Breathe in for a count of 10, then exhale fast for a count of 5. Repeat for two minutes and feel the energy flow.
- Peppermint or ginger tea. Everybody has their warm mug and maybe you want yours, too. Peppermint and ginger are energizing without the crash or the jitters.
- One square of very dark chocolate. It has a tiny bit of caffeine and the stimulant theobromine, but is also antioxidant packed and oh so delicious. Aim for 85% cocoa, which is very low in sugar with all the chocolate goodness.
Over time these energy boosters will build your health rather than stressing you out. Swap them out for your coffee habit and be amazed at the difference in your energy!
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