I’d recommend checking out mild nootropics used by other cultures on a daily basis. Slow-burning ‘highs’, like the kind you get from South American maté, seem easier for my body to handle than the steep and sharp coffee buzz. There’s also the obligatory meditation plug, but it’s probably pretty reasonable to assume that anyone interested in changes in subjective experience has given it a try already.
Yes, I’ve tried meditation but it doesn’t lead to the marked increase in energy I’m looking for, just less emotional reactivity and a certain level of cognitive detachment that’s useful in thinking within conversations. Both useful, but serves different purposes in my experience.
I’ve heard of Yerba mate but haven’t actually tried it before. Curious to see how it compares to other teas, especially black/higher-caffeine ones.
I like mate and I mainly chose it over coffee because of the issues the OP mentioned. It feels like it works fairly well, I usually make a tea of 1-2 spoons and have it after waking up from night sleep and again after waking up from afternoon nap.
I have no idea how I’d do it but I think I’d like to try making mate gum at some point because apparently gum has benefits for focusing as well.