If you feel tired—a lot—and to compensate, reach for a jolt of sugar or coffee, you may notice a spike quickly followed by a crash. Try ditching those twin evils in favor of these alternatives to increase energy and help you over the hump.
1. Drink up
Did you know that one of the first signs of dehydration is feeling tired? Your body depends on water to transport oxygen to your cells. If you don’t hydrate enough, you may feel tired or get headaches. Need a double boost? Take a whiff of oranges, lemons and grapefruits, whose smell has shown to be energizing, by adding a slice or two of your favorite to a glass of water.
2. Pack in the protein
Protein combined with slow-burning carbs—like banana slices with peanut butter, or cheese with multigrain crackers—can optimize blood sugar levels over the long term.
3. Get nutty
If you catch yourself in a slump, opt for a handful of nuts— like almonds, brazil nuts and peanuts –which are high in nutrients such as magnesium and folate (folic acid), which are essential for energy and cell production.
4. Pop a piece of gum
Gum can be surprisingly revitalizing. One recent study found that chewing gum increases heart rate, which increases blood flow to the brain, which translates into alertness. Mint flavor is especially stimulating for your nerve fibers. Need something more heavy duty? Try caffeinated gum—but use it judiciously. Any kind of caffeine can cause insomnia.
5. Move it
Exercise is what helps boost energy the best. Any kind of movement triggers oxygen-rich blood to surge through your body to your heart, muscles and brain. Even just moving for ten minutes can help you keep energy levels high. Tip: Park a little farther from your store of choice, take the stairs instead of the elevator, pace or take a walk while talking on the phone.
6. Stand up straight
Good posture can transform your energy levels. If you slouch, you compress your ribs, which restricts air flow to your lungs and oxygen flow to your brain. Slouching will eventually make you feel more tired.
Stress is, for most people, the main cause of exhaustion. Stress can disrupt our sleep and compromise our immunity to many common illnesses, as well as a host of many other health problems including elevated blood pressure. One simple way to de-stress—and experience the energy that gets freed—is to focus on your breath. Close your eyes and concentrate on the sensation of your breath coming in and out of your body. For starters, just try to track ten consecutive breaths.
8. Take a whiff
Inhaling cinnamon, mint or citrus are ways to create more pep when you start to lag. Target certain essential oils to inhale or put in a diffuser when you need a pick-me-up. On the go and in a pinch? Try a mint essential oil to wake you up.
9. Laugh out loud
Laughing creates a brief surge of energy in our bodies—it’s one of the best natural energy boosters. Similar to exercise, laughter increases your heart rate. A good laugh can help your body regenerate more healthful cells over time, including infection-fighting antibodies.
10. Sing out loud
Belting out your favorite song can release feel–good endorphins that create an emotional high. It’s also an effective stress-reducer.
Carrying resentment is tantamount to carrying a bag of rocks around. You give away your energy to the resentment, as well as to the person who you perceive is causing the resentment. Even if the forgiveness is internal, it can help reclaim that lost energy.
In one study, researchers assigned some young adults to keep a daily journal of things they were grateful for while others were assigned to journal about what they were annoyed by or reasons why they were better off than others. Those in the gratitude journal group showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups. If you have no time to journal, consider making a daily social media post about something you are grateful for.
13. Socialize strategically
Other people’s energy can affect us more than we realize—emotions tend to be contagious. If you are flagging, give yourself a micro-positivity dose by socializing with someone whose energy inspires you and lifts your spirits.
14. Get out in nature
If you are feeling listless, getting outside, particularly in a natural setting, can make you feel more alive. Numerous studies have linked the benefits of nature with increased energy and a heightened sense of well-being. Just being outside in nature for 20 minutes a day can significantly boost vitality levels.