Do you ever feel like you could get a lot more accomplished if only you had a bit more energy? If so, you’re in good company. Each day, 2.2 million Americans complain of feeling tired – and most of us can relate to this on some level. We’d really like to clean out the garage, try a challenging new dinner recipe, plant a bed of flowers, or make it to the gym on a regular basis. We just don’t have the energy to tackle these extra tasks on top of our already busy days.
If you can relate to the all-too-common feeling of dragging your heavy limbs through the day, it might be time to tweak your daily routine. What you eat and drink, how you sleep, and how you manage your emotions can either give you an energy boost, or leave you feeling flat out exhausted. Here are seven simple ways to inject your life with a shot of natural energy. You may find these to be even more effective than the triple shot espresso drink that you’ve come to rely on each day.
Find energy in your breakfast bowl.
Start the day out on the right foot by fueling your body with a healthy breakfast. Even if you don’t feel hungry in the morning, or you don’t think you have time to squeeze in a morning meal, making breakfast a healthy habit in your life could give you that energy boost that you’ve been missing. Studies have shown that people who regularly eat breakfast feel better both mentally and physically than those that pass on this important meal. Besides adding some skip to your step, eating breakfast can have positive effects on your weight and general physical health. A study conducted by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that people who ate a hearty breakfast containing more than a quarter of their daily calories consumed less fat during the day than those who went hungry in the morning. Plus, if your healthy breakfast includes one or two servings of fruit – slice some strawberries on your cereal and pour a glass of pomegranate juice – you’ve got an early start on your recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
Keep your eyes – and your stomach – on the clock.
You can help to maintain stable blood sugar and energy levels all day long by having something to eat every three to four hours. Most bodies perform at their best by consuming three moderate-sized meals and two healthy snacks per day. Note that moderate-sized meals are ideal because larger meals demand more energy to digest. Each meal should consist of carbohydrates (for energy), protein (to sustain that energy), and healthy fats found in fish, nuts, and olives (to contribute to meal satisfaction). Filling up on fiber can also help to maintain higher energy levels, as fiber causes carbohydrates to enter your bloodstream at a slow and steady pace. If you’re feeling mentally sluggish, try fueling your mind with omega-3s. These essential fatty acids play a key part in keeping your brain cells healthy and your mind alert.
Keep the water flowing.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps to fight off feelings of fatigue. Since water makes up the majority of our blood, even mild dehydration can cause blood to thicken. When blood thickens, the heart has to pump harder to carry blood to cells and organs, resulting in fatigue over time. Consuming ample fluids also supports our active lives by keeping energy-fueling nutrients flowing throughout our bodies. If you reach for something other than water to quench your thirst, consider the potential energy-zapping side effects. Drinks that are high in sugar may give you a short-lived sugar high, but the subsequent crash can leave you looking for a comfortable place to take a nap. You might also want to try cutting down on caffeinated drinks after noon. Though you may see them as effective pick-me-ups, coffees and sodas consumed in the afternoon or evening can negatively affect your quality of sleep that night, leaving you yawning the next day.
Dress for success.
When your body feels sluggish and slow, you may feel tempted to slip into something a little more comfortable – possibly in the form of sweatpants and your favorite t-shirt. Fight the urge to don elastic waistbands and instead opt for the flattering dress or smart suit that makes you feel attractive and together. Since our mental state has a powerful impact on our energy level, it helps a great deal to look at our reflection and see a person who looks energetic and unstoppable. If we see a deflated and dull image in the mirror, it just reinforces our tired state of mind. Dress to look your best and you might be surprised at the mental energy boost you feel when you catch sight of your reflection or receive compliments from your peers throughout the day.
Just let it go.
According to a study in the journal Psychological Science, holding on to a grudge causes your mind and body to react as if they’re experiencing chronic stress. This can cause an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure, potentially resulting in exhaustion over time. If you’re harboring ill feelings for someone, either talk it out with them or just let it go. Tell yourself that forgiveness is actually making your body stronger, healthier, and more energized. Internalizing fear, anxiety, and stress can similarly sap your stamina. To release these energy-drainers, you might try either vocalizing your feelings to a friend, or jotting them down in a journal. Either way, you’ll feel lighter and more energetic if you’re not weighed down by the heavy feelings that were locked inside of you. By letting go of grudges and releasing your feelings of stress and anxiety, you can shift your energy away from these negative thoughts and towards more productive outlets, like an invigorating round of golf.
You’ve got to give some to get some.
Although it might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re trudging through your day, exercise can be an excellent way to up your energy level. Of course, you’re bound to feel tired during your workout and for a short time after you’ve exerted your muscles. But research suggests that expending energy through a regular exercise routine may lead to increased energy in the long run. Studies have repeatedly shown that sedentary people who complete a regular exercise program reported less fatigue compared with groups that did not exercise. So the next time you’re feeling tired, a good walk might do more for your energy level than an afternoon nap.
Get a good night’s sleep.
This may be the most obvious energizing tip, but getting a good night’s sleep might also be the most effective step to take in preventing daytime sleepiness. According to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, nearly a quarter of American adults aren’t getting enough sleep. Some research has shown that reducing sleep by as little as one and a half hours for just one night reduces daytime alertness by about one-third. No wonder yawning and head-nodding are such common occurrences in our society. Getting a truly restful night’s sleep is essential in supporting our energy, productivity, and memory.
Please note that consistent fatigue or lack of energy may be related to an illness or medications, so it is essential that you talk to your doctor if you feel excessively tired or notice any other symptoms.