Alternatives To Coffee To Help You Focus

Alternatives To Coffee To Help You Focus

According to the FDA, caffeine can be a component of a healthy diet for most people - and it is also known to help you focus. 

To some, a cup of coffee may just be what they need to jump-start their day. When we think about coffee, one word comes to mind: caffeine. 

While studies suggest that a cup or two a day can be good for your physical health, do people really need coffee to improve their focus?

To answer the question, NO, it is not a need

Yes, coffee can improve your level of concentration and help you focus. It stimulates your body’s central nervous system and boosts the production of dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter that affects an individual’s ability to think and focus.

But, is it a prerequisite to having an efficient day? Definitely not. 

As magical as those beans might be, they can also pose health problems if not taken in moderation. For healthy adults, the recommended maximum number of cups of coffee to drink in a day is four, equivalent to around 400 milligrams.

Risks of drinking too much coffee:

1. Your body becomes dependent on caffeine

If you’re always on the go, it can feel routine to drink more than one cup of coffee in a day. When you consume coffee in high doses each day, this creates a psychological and physical dependence on your body. This can make you feel fatigued, easily irritable, and out of sync if you’re deprived of it for a day or even a few hours.

2. Drinking too much coffee will lead to jitters and anxiety

Coffee will trigger alertness. If you are sensitive to caffeine, even if taken in low to moderate doses, you may want to avoid coffee altogether. Studies have shown that a low tolerance to coffee can cause rapid heartbeat and increased stress levels.  

* The side-effects of excessive consumption of coffee will vary on a case-to-case basis 

Other than coffee, what can help you focus?

Staying on task can be difficult, especially if you’re tired, unmotivated, or surrounded by distractions. Even when you’re in a quiet environment and feel energized, you may still find your mind wandering.

Luckily, there are ways to improve your mental focus. If you’re struggling to keep yourself in the zone to finish a task, here are five techniques that can help you focus.

1. Get enough sleep

For the body to function in peak condition, it helps to get some quality shut-eye. While everyone can manage working a few days on limited rest, doing so consistently can have negative effects on your focus. 

If you want to improve your sleep schedule, consider these tips:

  • Limit consumption of caffeinated beverages after lunchtime 
  • Switch off electronic devices one hour before going to bed
  • Avoid exercising late at night
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per day

2. Avoid multitasking

We get it. Everyone wants to maximize their time and complete tasks as soon as possible. 

While multitasking may seem like a great way to finish tasks ahead of schedule, it will not help you focus and increase productivity. Shifting your attention from one task to another can be distracting and lead to other damaging effects

If you’ve grown accustomed to multitasking and feel its damaging effects taking hold, set a priority list to help you focus.

3. Take a short break

As you work on a given task, you may find that your focus dwindles the longer you do it. While you can argue that this may divert your attention from the task at hand, studies have shown that taking brief breaks while performing an arduous task can improve your overall productivity. This is because you are giving your mind time to recharge.

4. Practice meditation

Practicing mindfulness or meditation can do wonders to improve your focus. When you close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing, you reduce stress and relax your mind.

Meditating is a great way to increase focus. That’s because this mental exercise can change the structure and function of the brain, improving attention span and memory. 

For beginners, meditating for 5-10 minutes once a day can be a good starting point to reduce stress levels and help you focus better.  

5. Physical exercise 

Now, before you skip over this point, hear us out: exercise doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be walking a couple of blocks around your neighborhood or stretching different muscles.

As more jobs entail sitting for longer periods, you’ll need to be proactive if you want to avoid injury and burnout. 

Increased physical movement results in growth of the brain’s hippocampus (responsible for storing memory).  

There isn’t one particular exercise that will ultimately help you focus. What’s more important is finding an exercise that you enjoy and can easily incorporate into your daily schedule.  

Alternatives to coffee to help you focus

Caffeine can be found in other foods and beverages. If you’re used to drinking coffee to start every day and want to find alternatives, remember to make changes gradually. Abruptly changing your caffeine lifestyle can lead to headaches, fatigue and irritability. 

Here are other alternatives to coffee:

1. Brewed cacao

Not to be confused with cocoa, cacao is the raw material that creates cocoa. 

In comparison to coffee, cacao does not contain much caffeine. But that doesn’t mean it won’t give you the boost you need. 

Cacao is rich in theobromine - a naturally occurring stimulant found in cacao that expands your blood vessels (coffee restricts them) to increase blood flow for longer periods without having to worry about any side effects. 

Like coffee, cacao is high in antioxidants like magnesium and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. 

2. Matcha tea

All tea leaves contain caffeine. But, if you’re looking for a more concentrated source of antioxidants, matcha is the only cup of tea you’ll need. 

In contrast to coffee, matcha tea, or all other teas for that matter, are slow-acting. This means that the caffeine produced by the tea is stored in the body at a much slower rate. This gives you more energy throughout the day compared to a caffeine spike from sipping a cup of joe. 

Matcha can also act as a pillar to achieving a healthy body. Studies have shown that the ingredients in matcha can help:

  • Protect the liver
  • Boost brain function
  • Weight loss
  • Improve cardiovascular system

3. Golden milk

Another non-caffeinated energy booster that can power up your day is golden milk. This beverage is infused with spices such as ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper.   

However, the secret ingredient that makes everything work in this coffee alternative is turmeric. It’s been known to be a powerful antioxidant that contains anti-inflammatory properties. 

4. Lemon infused water

At first glance, a lemon wedge mixed in a warm glass of water may not seem much. However, this coffee alternative is teeming with nutrients and vitamins to help you focus. 

Lemon is another natural source of antioxidants that protect the immune system, improve skin health, and aid digestion. What’s more, lemon water also sharpens your mind to help you hone in on a certain task. The high amounts of potassium and magnesium play an important role in cognition and memory.  

Final thoughts

Everyone has different methods to stimulate their level of focus and performance. Some may prefer moderate to high doses of caffeine while others may just need an extra hour of sleep. 

What’s important to keep in mind is that you know your body best. If you’re feeling adverse effects from consuming too much or too little of caffeinated beverages, remember to only drink in moderation and try out other alternatives to help you focus.

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