As with most anything in this world, there is no quick fix for a lack of energy. Sure there are energy drinks, caffeine, and aromatherapy, but these are all temporary remedies for an often chronic feeling.
In some cases, low energy can be due to a medical condition, so see your doctor for a full health evaluation. More often than not, however, low energy is a result of not taking care of yourself.
Taking better care of your body and mind by focusing on the following areas of your life, you will regain the energy you need to get through each day and conquer your never-ending to-do list.
Get More Rest!
Adequate sleep is a vital part to having more energy day-to-day. Most doctors recommend 7 – 8 hours, but you may need more or less depending on your age and level of health.
Making sure your sleep is restful is even more important than the sleep itself. If you don’t wake up from a full night’s sleep feeling refreshed and ready to go, chances are your sleep is not restful and you may even have a sleep disorder.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of your environment taking its toll. If you have pets or small children, they may be waking you up at night without you even realizing it. If you’re a light sleeper, it may help to give your pets a separate sleeping space off the bed so they don’t wake you up during the night. Have a spouse who snores? Invest in a pair of earplugs or get them to buy nasal strips, which open up the nose and prevent snoring. Additionally, keeping your room at a comfortable, but cool temperature will ensure you don’t wake up from being too hot or too cold.
Even if you do get a full night’s sleep, it can be tempting to just hit the snooze button on your alarm and doze a little longer. Unfortunately, doing so can actually make you more tired. We all have a natural sleep and wake cycle called a circadian rhythm, which is regulated by light and darkness. Different hormones are secreted throughout the day and delaying waking can stress out your body. It’s best to get up when you wake up and let in as much natural light as possible. The light will actually help you wake up and activate your internal clock, giving you energy.
Exercise is not just good for your health; it will give you more energy throughout the day, too. Regular exercise three times a week has been shown to increase energy levels and combat fatigue. Our bodies are made to move, and being sedentary for too long can cause a myriad of health problems. Even a quick five-minute walk can boost energy levels and increase concentration.
When you take your walk or exercise, be sure to do so outdoors and get some sunshine! Vitamin D, which is produced by the body when your skin is exposed to UVB rays from the sun, is another natural and essential energy booster. Vitamin D is good for overall health including bones, muscles, and essential organs like the heart and lungs. It also helps fight off infection and may even be linked to preventing diabetes.
In general, people are the most sedentary at work; sitting in an office all day staring at a computer. While computers and other electronic usage can certainly contribute to depleting energy levels throughout the day, the simple act of sitting for too long is fatiguing. If you don’t get up and move once in a while, your posture suffers and your muscles may cramp. Get relief from pain or tension in the body with some simple stretches that will also give you a boost of energy.
Eating well is probably the most obvious way to have more energy. When you eat, your body breaks down food, turning it into energy and storing the excess as fat. A well-balanced breakfast, consisting of unrefined carbohydrates and lean protein, will leave you feeling full and sustain your energy levels throughout the morning.
Blood glucose levels play a large part in controlling energy, especially from food. Eating low-glycemic foods will avoid large spikes in blood sugar and crashes after a meal. Stay away from processed foods and sugar, which are the biggest culprits. To maintain a healthy blood sugar level throughout the day, eat protein and fiber rich snacks every 3 – 4 hours. These snacks are instant energy boosters that won’t leave you lethargic the way caffeine and energy drinks do.
Equally important is staying hydrated throughout the day. Our bodies are made up of 50 – 65% water so drink up! Dehydration can cause fatigue, brain fog, and even body aches. Drinking at least eight glasses of water will ensure you have enough energy to get through the day. For an extra boost, chase that water with a B-vitamin. B-vitamins, specifically B12, helps convert carbs into glucose and regulates the nervous system as well.
It may come as a surprise, but relaxation is an essential part to having more energy. When we are overworked or stressed, the body releases the hormone cortisol, which is responsible for our natural fight-or-flight response. Because we are not usually in a scenario that requires this kind of threatened behavior, our agitation becomes anxiety. Having an increased state of arousal all the time quickly wears you out and depletes energy.
One of the best ways to reduce cortisol stimulation is through meditation. When you achieve a state of mindfulness, you become aware of the here and now and can watch your thoughts come and go. Meditation puts you in a relaxed state, allowing for muscles to untighten and breathing to slow down and regulate. When you take those big deep breaths in through your nose and hold them, it increases oxygen circulation throughout the body and in turn, your energy.
Music has a similarly soothing effect on the body. Classical music in particular is known for its relaxing qualities. Listening to classical music can increase concentration, memory, and yes, even energy. Certain sounds and notes will generate an arousal response in the body, which can heighten awareness and wake up your nervous system. In short, music can work like a stimulant, but without the crash later in the day.
By focusing on rest, exercise, good food, and relaxation, you should gradually start to see an increase in your energy levels throughout the day. Balance is key, as is patience because change doesn’t happen overnight. Again, talk to your doctor for guidance on the best ways to make the most of these suggestions according to your body.