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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

6 Secrets for Staying Energized After a Red-Eye

Maybe you’re part of America’s latest trend: the super commuter who spends the early hours of the day traveling to her office based hundreds of miles away. Or perhaps you’ve just spent the weekend away, and you’re paying the price when you step off that returning red-eye. In any case, it’s Monday morning—and you’re not sure how you’re going to make it through the next eight hours without crashing headfirst onto your keyboard.

I’ve been there. Since I work in Amsterdam, I extend my twice-yearly visits home to California until the last possible minute in order to make the most of the 14-hour (or longer) journey. This, of course, results in a terribly jet-lagged and groggy version of myself arriving at work the next day.

But your boss probably doesn’t care too much about these intercontinental travels—unless they start affecting your job, that is. So make sure you’re at peak performance, even after an early-morning flight, with these six natural energy-giving tips.

1. Keep Moving

If you find yourself blankly staring at your computer, take a brisk walk—the movement will get your blood flowing. Visit your colleagues’ desks instead of sending morning emails, or pace around your office during a phone call. If you’re stuck at your desk, try tensing and releasing your abs or legs to stay alert and overcome the lethargic feelings leftover from being cramped in economy seating for a few hours.

2. Stay Icy

Being warm keeps you cozy, but it also makes you drowsy. On the other hand, your body will be unable to relax if it’s cold. So leave your cardigan draped over your chair or bring some ice to (quietly) chew on. The coldness will make it hard for your brain to check out.

3. Choose Citrus

Red Bull and espresso shots may give you a temporary caffeine high, but a few hours later they’ll make you crash (and hard). To avoid an afternoon drop-off, try drinking hot water with fresh lemon throughout the day. The natural zing of citrus will help you re-focus, plus flush out any toxins lingering in your system from your weekend of fun.

4. Engage in Meetings

Have a meeting waiting for you? Keep your brain alert by actively participating in the conversation. Regardless of how tired I may feel, when all eyes are on me, my adrenaline starts rushing, giving me an immediate boost. If it’s not a speak-up kind of meeting, just smile and take thorough notes, both of which are subconscious ways to stay perky while others are speaking. Don’t let yourself absently nod through a presentation, or you’ll be much more likely to doze off.

5. Don’t Watch the Clock

We know, all you want to do is go home and sleep. But try your hardest to remain present instead of counting down the minutes until the end of the day. Clock-watching only serves as a distraction—and one that your manager will probably notice.

6. It’s All In the Attitude

Mind over matter can work wonders when you’re tired. Telling yourself that you actually feel fine—rather than listening to (and being influenced by) co-workers’ tales of their own post red-eye exhaustions—just might do the trick.

Follow these quick tips, and your boss won’t ever suspect you were a continent away over the weekend. Whether you were off with friends or interviewing for new positions across the country, no one has to know you were gone—at least, not you decide to share.

Photo courtesy of Cristiano Betta.