Long hours and constant pressure can really take their toll on energy levels in the kitchen. Coffee is a short term-solution but there’s only so much caffeine one body can take over the length of a long service. Rather than relying on the kind of aggressive stimulation that caffeine provides – and the sharp drop in energy levels that can follow too much caffeine consumption – try a few of these non-caffeinated ways to keep yourself going in the kitchen instead.
- Drink water
You may not think that humble H2O has much to offer when it comes to an energy boost but that’s just not the case. As 60% of our bodies are water, if we become dehydrated then this can quickly result in tiredness, headaches, irritability and a loss of concentration. According to academic studies even a 1-2% drop in hydration can make you feel tired or even a little confused. So, before you reach for the espresso, try fuelling up on water first, especially in the mornings.
- Have a breath of fresh air
Just a few minutes outside can help enliven your mind and boost your energy levels. Scientists have found that being exposed to sunlight can have a pretty immediate effect on performance and alertness. Bright light also activates the part of the brain that regulates sleeping and wakefulness, reminding us that now is the time to be active and waking you up. Step out of the kitchen as and when possible to refresh and reset your mind.
- Put the radio on
Studies of sleepy drivers found that those who listened to music – particularly with the volume turned up – experienced a period of alertness immediately afterwards. This also works when you’re not in the car and the more varied the music types, the more stimulating the music is to those who are listening to it. Put the radio on when you’re prepping for service and turn the volume up or create a playlist of the team’s favourite songs for that extra boost when your favourite comes on.
While many of us might be in the habit of reaching for something sugary when we feel tired (especially with the delicious snacks found in our kitchens), this is a very short term solution that can leave you feeling even worse afterwards. Foods such as avocado, eggs, dried fruit and peanut butter are all fantastic for keeping energy levels up so snack on them throughout the day. Ensure your diet is filled with quality foods and variety to ensure you’re getting the essential vitamins and minerals your body requires to be in tip top shape.
- Have a browse on YouTube
This might sound like an odd solution but there’s research to back up the effect that watching entertaining videos on YouTube has on us. The trick is to choose videos that you know you already enjoy – whether that’s exceptional knife skills or the sneezing panda - and then subject yourself to them in a short burst to boost your positivity and energy. Ideal to combat the afternoon slump.
- Take the stairs
A short burst of energy, such as running up the stairs or walking around the block, can disperse fatigue and make you feel much more energetic. This is because physical activity increases blood flow and also boosts metabolism and heart rate. 5-10 minutes of brisk exercise just before each service can have the same effect as any caffeinated drink, but if you only have time to run up and down the stairs a few times that can also get you moving mentally.
- Chew gum
A British study recently revealed that the simple action of chewing gum fires up cortisol and also increases your heart rate. Both of these have been linked to increased alertness so the more you chew the more energy you’re likely to have. Choose a minty fresh gum and enjoy it on the way to work.
- Use your sense of smell
Smells can stimulate just as much as anything else and you don’t have to consume anything to get the benefit of them. Citrus fruits, such as lemons and limes, are a natural stimulant so get chopping and inhale deeply if you want to wake up.
- Cool off
Splashing cold water on your face is the kind of dramatic gesture we’ve gotten used to people doing in films and cop shows. However, even if you’re not solving crimes you can still benefit from a few seconds with a sink. If you suddenly expose your skin to cold water then your body is forced to adjust in order to regulate internal temperature. This wakes up your system and gives you an alertness boost – ideal if you’re struggling in the middle of a service.
Taking deep breaths can be as effective for waking you up as calming you down. You can also learn specific breathing techniques, such as Breath of Fire in kundalini yoga, which increases energy and floods your system with oxygen. To practice it, take short, fast breaths through the nose and contract your diaphragm and belly.