Almost everyone needs energy to get through the day. Unless you are the son of a tzar or Paris Hilton (and if you are, thanks for stopping by), your daily planner is likely packed to the limit with work, chores, and activities. So, what do you do when the afternoon rolls around and your feet begin to drag?
For one thing, put down that energy shot. Remove the Redbulls and Monsters from your refrigerator. Is that your fourth cup of coffee? Drop it. Most people settle for immediate and high-powered bursts of energy, but these methods will only cause you to crash and burn (not to mention the potential health risks they come with).
What you need are healthy and natural ways to re-energize your body and mind. Shooting up caffeine in the morning will only make you strung out and cranky later in the day. But natural energy reaches deep down and renews you from the inside out, keeping you energized all day long. A steady energy level is much better than a spike followed by a plummet and flat line.
Here are fifteen ways to feel more energized throughout your busy day. Some of them should be done at certain times of the day, while others can be practiced at any time. Either way, see which ones work best for you and break through that 2pm wall.
- Let there be light. Natural light works much better than artificial bulbs to keep you energized inside the house. Sunlight will also help you roll out of bed in the morning instead of hitting snooze. Open the blinds while you get ready or eat breakfast by a window. The light and warmth from the sun’s natural rays will help you feel rejuvenated and ready for the day. Dark or dimly lit rooms are a nap waiting to happen.
- Eat healthy. Eating right is essential for long lasting energy. Complex carbs (foods like fruits, vegetables, and oatmeal) and lean proteins (like nuts, beans, and fish) are a good source for energy that sustains the body during the bustle and stress of the day. It is also important that you eat close to the same time every day to get your body into a regular pattern. Four to six smaller meals each day are better than the traditional three big meals. Eating large meals, especially later in the day, means more energy will be spent on digesting your food instead of on more useful tasks. Anyone after a Thanksgiving meal will tell you that large meals will only make you lethargic and leave you longing for the mattress.
Don’t skimp on the breakfast foods. People don’t say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day just to be cute. Eating a big breakfast will kick start your metabolism and energy level, preparing you for the day ahead. Skipping breakfast will throw off your eating pattern and cause you to eat a larger meal later in the day, which as mentioned before will make you more sluggish.
- Drink a lot of water. Dehydration, in even its most mild form, can cause sleepiness. Drinking water constantly throughout the day will keep you hydrated and your energy levels high. In most cases water will even remove the need for any caffeine.
- Go easy on the coffee. If you just can’t let go of your coffee habit, don’t worry about indulging yourself. The caffeine in coffee will definitely boost your energy, and it is a more healthy choice than most energy drinks. However, gulping down your coffee will just make you feel like you need more. Instead, sip slowly over the course of the day. And be sure to stop sometime in the mid afternoon because the effects of coffee stay in your system for a long time and might keep you up at night. If you suffer from insomnia, this might be one of the reasons. [Read: 12 Ways to Defeat Insomnia and Get Sleep at Night]
- Relieve stress. When you’re stressed you burn through your energy much more quickly. You’ll feel drained, cranky and in a slump. Meditation is a great way to slow down your body and remove stress. Your muscles will relax, your blood will flow better, and your breathing will be deeper and more regulated. Stretching and yoga have much of the same effects. Take five to ten minutes here and there throughout the day to stretch or meditate. You will feel more energized and it will help prevent stress-related disorders.
- Take a power nap. The problem here is that some people don’t know what a short nap is, or once their head hits the pillow they have a hard time getting back up. Napping for a few hours will throw off your sleep pattern and make you feel worse when you wake up then you did before. The best nap length is ten to thirty minutes when you’re slowing down in the afternoon. This siesta will revive body and strengthen your energy levels.
- Get a full night’s rest. Getting enough sleep during the night is imperative for having enough energy for the day. The better sleep you get, the less of these other methods you will have to utilize because your body will already have energy stored up. Doctors recommend at least a good six to eight hours every night. Even if you have a busy schedule, do what you have to and go to bed at a decent hour to stay in a natural rhythm of sleep.
- Chew gum. When you find yourself nodding off at your desk or in a meeting, pop in a stick of gum. Studies show that chewing gum will improve your mood and increase your levels of alertness. Gum chewing mixes energy expenditure and energy intake, allowing for a perfect balance of energy.
- Eat chocolate. This may sound like it goes against some of the above rules, but sometimes you just need a boost of energy instead of a sustaining amount. Coffee and healthy foods work well, but chocolate is also a great way to release endorphins and get a quick energy shot.
- Buy a house plant. Chemicals like volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ozone will drain your energy and give you allergies and headaches. Buying a plant is a great way to combat this because it will help filter out these pollutants. Having something growing in your house or office will keep the air fresh and clean and ensure that your energy levels don’t drag.
- Sniff lemons. Ok, it doesn’t have to be as weird as it sounds. Lemon is considering to be a very stimulating scent, but you don’t necessarily have to put your nose to the actual fruit. Buy aromatherapy candles, soaps, lotion – anything with lemon oil.
- Do something different. Shaking up your routine will keep your body and brain alert and stimulated. Go for a walk, do a crossword puzzle, or take five minutes to stretch. Sitting for long periods of time will cause you to become drowsy and lazy. Even if you can’t get away from the office, make a point of standing up and moving around every once in a while (you can even work standing like they do at Google).
- Laugh often. Laughter has been proven to increase your mood and decrease stress, both of which produce higher levels of energy. But you don’t need a laugh specialist to tell you that. You know that chuckles and giggles are good for the body and the soul. [Read: Laughter is the Best Medicine – 8 Health Benefits of Humor]
- Exercise. It’s no secret that aerobic activity of any kind will increase your energy levels. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your energy, though it can seem daunting to people who don’t think they have the time or physical ability to work out. But you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to get in enough exercise. Basically you just need to move more then you normally do. Whether it’s by working out, running, dancing, rock climbing, or pilates is up to you. Even little things like biking to work or choosing the stairs over the elevator can make a big difference for your energy levels.
- Get outside. Remember what we said about the benefits of sunlight and houseplants? Well imagine those benefits multiplied tenfold, and that’s what you get by spending some time outside. There’s just something about being in the great outdoors that refreshes and rejuvenates the body (and that’s apart from the scientifically-proven benefits). People who spend as little as twenty minutes outside will feel much more energized then those who didn’t leave the house.
If you want to be the best in everything you do, you need energy. It is important in every aspect of your life and crucial for success. Luckily, it is very simple to attain the energy you need. Most people complain about not having any energy, but they don’t change habits or try to do anything to improve. Well after reading this list you don’t have any excuses, so grab a lemon and get energized!