Have you been working or studying long hours? Feeling sleep deprived and yawning at your desk? Thankfully, there are some simple and low-cost ways to transform your body into a fatigue-fighting machine. Here are ten tips to help you enhance your own natural energy levels:
1. Manage Stress
As we all know, stress is a major drain in every way! Stress-induced emotions consume huge amounts of energy. To help you manage stress, try talking with a friend or colleague or perhaps see a natural health practitioner or counselor to help with therapies and techniques to diffuse stress. Relaxation therapies like meditation, yoga, and tai chi are also effective tools for reducing stress.
2. Lighten Your Load
One of the main contributors to experiencing fatigue is surprise, surprise, working too hard, or doing too much. Overwork can include professional, family, and social obligations. Allow yourself to say ‘No’ sometimes, and remember that there will undoubtedly be plenty of opportunities to say ‘Yes’ again in the future when life calms down, and your energy is restored! Try to streamline your large ‘To-do’ list to a ‘Today’s tasks’ of daily activities. It makes your day-to-day tasks seem less overwhelming. Set your priorities in terms of the most important tasks and lower those that are less important. Don’t be afraid to ask for extra help at work and at home… People are usually more than willing to help out!
3. Exercise in the Morning
Exercise causes your body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine, stress hormones that, in modest amounts, can make you feel energised. If you’re feeling knackered by the end of each day, why not exercise when your energy levels are the highest they’re likely to be all day? Exercising in the morning also compliments the other important aspects of managing your energy levels as well. Starting your day with a workout can set the tone and tempo for the rest of the day, meaning you may be more likely to make healthy choices and maintain your energy through good food choices.
4. Eat for Energy
For many people who experience ongoing fatigue, it may be better to try eating small meals and snacks every few hours than three large meals a day. Tune into how you feel after eating and perhaps keep a food diary to track when your energy slumps. Is it after a big meal? Does snacking only give you temporary relief from fatigue? With a food diary (keeping track of symptoms/energy ratings, too), you can start to track and see for yourself how food may be contributing to your energy levels. Eating foods with a low glycemic index (meaning that they release glucose more gradually into the bloodstream) may help you avoid the lag in energy that typically occurs after eating quickly absorbed sugars or refined starches, ie. pastries, potato chips, etc. Foods with a low glycemic index include whole grains such as brown rice, high-fiber vegetables such as broccoli, nuts, meat, and healthy oils such as olive oil. In general, high-carbohydrate foods have the highest glycemic indexes. A biscuit with your afternoon cuppa may give you a quick boost, but it is unlikely to sustain you or work in your favor for long-term energy gains!
5. Limit Alcohol
Let’s face it, work lunches or social study breaks with friends are fun! But one of your best bets to avoid the 3 pm slump is to avoid drinking alcohol at said such lunches. The sedative effect of alcohol is especially strong at midday…this may work if you have a siesta a la Spain scheduled…but that’s not a reality for most of us! If you’re going to drink, do so in moderation at a time when you don’t mind having your energy wind down.
6. Prioritise Sleep
There are so many aspects of modern life that can vastly reduce the quality of sleep you’re getting, and not sleeping well can, for obvious reasons, lead to low energy. Some simple tips for getting better sleep include:
• Going to bed at a regular time each night (preferably before 10 pm as between 10 pm – 12 am – are considered the most restorative hours for energy)
• Avoiding computers, TV, and other screens for at least an hour before bed
• Keeping the room at a fairly cool temperature
7. Listen and Respond to your Body’s Cues for Rest
We’re all guilty of occasionally sidelining our body’s signs and symptoms that we’re doing too much in order to just ‘push on through’ to get what needs to be done. While we can ignore the body’s signs it needs more rest, inevitably, when we ‘push through’ too often, we usually come crashing down with exhaustion. Tune into your body’s signs that you need to slow down, and you’ll find you have more sustainable energy stores that you’re able to tap into.
8. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a wellness industry buzzword right now…and for a good reason. Mindfulness is essentially focusing the mind on the present situation and living in the moment to help decrease stress levels. Maybe try downloading an app onto your phone that can help you tune into being mindful at regular intervals in the day. Or, if it just doesn’t seem like you can feasibly schedule it into your day, incorporate it at random intervals such as when you’re making a cup of tea at the office, driving to work, or sitting on the bus. Turn off your phone, park up your mental chatter, and really tune into how you are feeling in the moment, both physically and emotionally.
9. Practice Deep Breathing
Practicing deep diaphragmatic breathing helps to calm the nervous system whilst increasing energy levels. Taking a moment out of your busy schedule to focus on taking deep breaths can rapidly re-energise you as it brings more oxygen into your body!
10. Consider Taking a Magnesium Supplement
Magnesium is a mineral responsible for hundreds of vital biochemical reactions in the body. It’s crucial for breaking down glucose into energy, and having even slightly lower than normal magnesium levels in the body can mean a noticeable drop in energy levels. It’s important to eat foods high in magnesium, such as whole grains, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, and beans. However, it’s not always possible to obtain all we need from our diets, and in periods of high stress, magnesium supplementation should possibly be considered. The difference these easy-to-incorporate tips can have on your energy levels and mood is profound, and you’ll find other aspects of your life most likely improving as a result. You’ll have more time to have fun with your family and friends, you’ll perform better and get more done at work or with your studies, and you’ll no doubt be in far better physical shape. All it takes is actively managing your energy in a way that you start to notice works best for you!