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When exhaustion hits, it is easy to reach for a caffeinated soda, energy drink, or an aroma-filled cup of joe. While caffeine has become the standard, there are more effective ways to boost your energy without the crash. Get ready to take your shift head-on with these five alternatives for energy without the caffeine.

Ways for 911 dispatchers to boost energy without caffeine

Why do dispatchers need healthy energy alternatives?

In Compassion Fatigue and 9-1-1 we shared that compassion fatigue affects as many as eight out of ten 911 dispatchers. Repeated exposure to secondhand trauma while fielding emergency calls takes a toll on mental, emotional, and physical health. It is critical to prioritize your general health.   Reaching for a caffeinated pick-me-up on a taxing shift masks symptoms AND may contribute to the core problems. Easy to grab, caffeinated beverages and energy drinks with addictive ingredients do more harm than good.

If you want to know how to get energy without caffeine, reset your system starting with these five healthy alternatives.

Apples provide energy boost without caffeine

1) An apple a day...

One of the best options is to eat an apple, a green one if you can find one. Research indicates that the nutrients in apples provide fiber, natural sugar, and vitamins crucial for both short-term and long-term energy. Apples provide an energy boost without caffeine and won't leave you feeling drained 20 minutes or so later the way energy drinks and soda does.

2) Let's get physical!

Sitting at a desk and staring at a computer can sometimes make you feel like you're on autopilot; this is counter-productive, especially for dispatchers who shift between active dispatch and focused watchfulness. A sedentary body typically has a lower metabolism which can contribute to lost mental focus.

Additionally, staring at a computer screen for hours can make your eyes hurt. Sometimes it's because the screen is too bright. And, often, because you are blinking less often - which results in dry eye.

Body movement is one of the top ways to get energy without caffeine. Getting up from your desk periodically to use the restroom or even standing up to do a few jumping jacks with your eyes closed will wake your body up, boost your heart rate, and help you feel refreshed.

3) Sleeping Beauty

Studies recommend eight hours of sleep each night. This can be tough to consistently attain; family obligations and overnight shifts can make sleep schedules challenging to maintain.

These challenges are ever present. However, creating a meaningful change in your sleep schedule can positively impact your energy, focus, and relationships.

Start with your days off and create a routine to settle into meaningful and lengthy rest to maintain your energy without caffeine:

  • Commit to a bed time.
  • Leave your phone on the kitchen counter.
  • Pick up a book, instead of watching TV before sleeping.
  • Take 5 minutes at the beginning and/or end of your day to reflect, meditate, or pray.

4) Frequent small meals

Maintaining steady blood sugar reduces brain fog and is especially critical for 911 dispatchers. Large meals, spaced hours apart may be contributing to a roller-coaster of energy spikes and crashes.

Instead of eating two or three large meals during the day, space your food intake out throughout your day. This will help stabilize your metabolism. Your body will digest and integrate nutrients more efficiently.

Drinking water and staying hydrated helps maintain energy without caffeine.

5) Hydrate!

It can be easy to forget to drink water, especially because those who sit at desks often do not go to a water cooler or water fountain. It's also tempting to be fooled into thinking all beverages count as hydration, but drinks containing caffeine work against your body, actually dehydrating you.

A second effect of dehydration can be a spike in feeling hungry. Doctors who specialize in metabolism indicate that the body will signal hunger when dehydrated. You may be consuming extra calories even when you don't need them; a glass of water can suffice!

Watson Cup Holder

Some comm centers recommend not keeping liquids at the desk because they fear computer equipment being damaged or documents being spilled. However, there are many spill-proof bottles on the market. Local grocery stores and big box stores often have sales on these products and make them easy to find for anyone, in all different sizes and colors.

The safest spillproof option is to attach your drink to your console with a Watson cup holder accessory. Our premium cup holder attaches to your work station, keeping your drink nearby without the risk of spilling.

Focusing on staying hydrated will actually increase hydration, exercise, and give your eyes a break from the screen! That's a triple win!

What now?

We know coffee, pop, and packaged, sweet snacks are tempting to grab when you're feeling tired. With a little planning, you can successfully shift gears. Here are a few tactics for success:

  • Start with one of the caffeine alternatives we introduced. Once you have established a dependable habit, add another.
  • Set your timer OR use scheduled break times as a cue to add some extra movement.
  • Take advantage of the sit-to-stand function on your console workstation.
  • Create a pot-luck commissary stocked with fresh apples, packaged nuts and other nutrient rich snacks.
  • Make caffeine reduction a friendly competition! Sign your team members up for a move-a-thon or "dehydration annihilation" - who can drink the most water this shift?

The community, at large, relies on you in their times of distress. Your daily health is equally important! Be at your best by making simple changes to boost your focus and stabilize your blood sugar.

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