Most of us could use a bit more energy during the day. Whether it’s a groggy feeling in the morning, afternoon drowsiness, or a general sluggishness throughout the day, nearly all adults wish they had a little bit more spring in their step. I know I do!
When they feel low on energy, many people’s instinct is to reach for a cup of coffee, caffeinated soda, energy drink, or sugar-rich snack. However, these artificial sources of energy often come with a price: caffeine makes many people jittery and can keep you awake if you drink it in the afternoon, and sugary drinks or snacks give you a short boost of energy but leave you dragging when that boost wears off. In addition, sugar, caffeine, or other chemicals aren’t the best choices for your overall health.
Fortunately, there are many natural and healthy ways to increase your energy levels. Here is a look at some things you can do, or some things you can stop doing, to help you feel full of vigor and vim!
Get Enough Sleep, But Not Too Much
It’s very important to get enough sleep to feel rested. However, most people don’t really know how much sleep they need in order to feel good. This can result in excess time spent in bed, and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. If you often sleep poorly, or spend lots of your time in bed lying awake, try restricting your sleep to only four hours a night. If sleep soundly during those four hours, you can add a half hour to your sleep each night until you find the period of time during which you can sleep well.
If you have the opposite problem, and either can’t or won’t find enough hours to get sufficient sleep, try to find ways to lighten your load and make sleep a priority. With plenty of sleep and more energy, you may even find yourself able to complete your tasks in the reduced time you have given yourself.
Reduce Stress And Work
Stress and overwork often contribute to each other, and they also lead to fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Reducing these two problems can go a long way toward giving you the energy you lack. Consider asking for help at work, prioritizing your housework, or using tools such as software or classes to help you manage your time and money. If stress is having a serious effect on your mental health, consider talking to a counselor to help you get things under control.
Consume Only Lean Proteins
Don’t eat only protein, but make sure that the protein you do eat is low in fat. You will feel sluggish if you do not have enough protein in your diet because your body relies on protein to keep all of your body systems functioning strongly. However, fatty foods will also make you feel sluggish, so eating fatty protein instead of lean will counteract many of the energy benefits of the protein itself.
Get Lots of Vitamins C And B12
Deficiencies of these two vitamins can lead to feelings of fatigue. Vitamin C can give your body a direct energy boost, while vitamin B12 works more indirectly by stimulating reactions in your body that lead to energy boosts. Vegetarians and vegans are at greater risk for vitamin B12 deficiency and should be careful to seek out sources of this vital nutritional element.
The nicotine in tobacco is, among other things, a stimulant. Stimulants of this kind cause your heart rate to elevate and your brain to become more active, both of which can make it difficult for you to sleep. Tobacco can also cause you to waken in the middle of the night due to nicotine cravings. If you are generally anxious to avoid harmful or artificial substances, chances are you don’t smoke. But just in case you do or are considering it, here are two more reasons to think twice!
Drink Alcohol In Moderation
Alcohol is a depressant, which means it has more or less the opposite effect on the body as a stimulant drug like nicotine. While nicotine can lead to long-term tiredness due to sleep disruption, alcohol tends to make you feel drowsy right away. A lunchtime alcoholic beverage or happy hour drink is a bad idea if you want to avoid afternoon sluggishness or stay alert throughout the evening.
While you may feel pleasantly tired right after a workout, regular exercise will help you to have more energy in the long term. Early in the day, exercise is a great way to get your blood flowing and help you to lose your sleepy, groggy feeling. As your physical fitness improves, your overall energy levels will rise. Furthermore, exercise often helps you to fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly, which will also help you to feel alert and energized throughout the day.
Although it may seem sensible to exercise before bedtime so that you are good and tired, exercise right before trying to sleep can actually be very difficult. Although exercise tires your muscles, it stimulates your brain and makes you feel alert and active. Make sure to exercise early enough that you have plenty of time to wind down after your workout before you hit the sack.
Loss of focus and fatigue are some of the early signs of dehydration. To avoid that drain, make sure that you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Water is usually the best solution for steady hydration – pricey electrolyte beverages are only really useful for rehydrating someone in the later stages of dehydration or for athletes in extremely rigorous sports who lose electrolytes very rapidly.
Eat Small, Frequent Meals
Your body’s energy comes from food, so it is important to eat enough food and enough of the right kind food to make your body function. However, eating three big meals a day does not allow your body to make the most efficient use of the food you are ingesting. When you eat a large meal, you body has to direct a lot of its energy toward digesting the food and breaking it down into energy. This can lead you to feel sluggish – the proverbial food coma. You may also find yourself feeling low-energy when hours have passed since your last meal, because your body has run low on energy resources.
When you eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, it allows your body to efficiently digest the food. This also allows you to regularly replenish your energy stores before your blood-sugar levels get too depleted and the supply of nutrients to your brain gets too low.
Eat Foods That Absorb Slowly
In nutrition language, you want to look for foods that have a low glycemic index. This means foods with complex carbohydrates that take longer to break down, and absorb into your bloodstream more slowly. These foods will help you to feel full and energetic longer, and help you avoid the sudden drop of energy that comes after eating simple-carb foods that absorb quickly. Sugary and starchy foods tend to have high glycemic indices, while fruits, veggies, grains, and lean meats have low indices.
A Few More Fun Ideas
If you still need a boost after trying these tried-and-true methods, check out this column at Zen Habits. Some of the ideas will look familiar, but there are many more fun tips that you might want to try. Consider flirting or having an office sing-a-long to get your adrenaline flowing, or wearing bright colors so that people you meet respond to you with more energy!
©2012 Off the Grid News