Exhausted? 7 Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels
If you find yourself feeling sluggish mid-afternoon, energy levels low, struggling to stay alert throughout the day, struggling with fatigue or just plain exhausted, then it’s time for a change! Luckily, there are easy, affordable ways to banish tiredness and get a spring in your step once again.
There’s no need to chug crazy canned concoctions or buckets of coffee to get through the day without a 3 p.m. slump. Fatigue is often due to insufficient sleep, poor dietary habits, stress, or worry. Less commonly, it may be due to an underlying health problem.
- Tiredness or sleepiness that is not relieved by rest
- Daily activities feel difficult or unduly tiring
- Low physical or psychological energy
- Decreased ability to perform physically. For example, muscles may tire easily, reflexes may be slow, and co-ordination may be affected
- Poor concentration and decision making
- Mood swings and irritability may occur
- Motivation may be low
- Fatigue that is accompanied by symptoms of dizziness; pale skin, lips, gums, nail beds and eyelid linings; rapid heartbeat; shortness of breath (especially when exercising); poor concentration; and/or reduced resistance to infection may indicate iron-deficiency anaemia.
Many cases of fatigue are related to lifestyle factors such as insufficient or excessive amounts of sleep, poor eating habits, high stress levels, a sedentary lifestyle or the abuse of drugs and alcohol. Other lifestyle issues may include workplace stress, shift work, and long work hours. Depression, bereavement, financial anxiety and other mental health problems may also lead to low energy states, as well as to mood swings, low motivation, and irritability. In fact, psychological factors such as these may be involved in the majority of fatigue cases.
7 Ways to Boost Your Energy Levels
1. Stay Hydrated with Water and Electrolytes
Did you know that one of the first signs of dehydration is feeling tired or exhausted? That’s right – not drinking enough water could be the reason your energy levels are lacking and you feel exhausted. Because our bodies are made up of mostly water, even small dips in H2O levels are enough to affect your metabolism.
Stay hydrated by making sure you’re drinking enough water and other fluids throughout the day. The Institute of Medicine suggests about 9 cups of fluids a day for women and 13 cups for men. However a more accurate amount is take your body weight and divide it in half, then drink that many ounces per day, plus more if you workout, are really active, are pregnant, nursing, or are fighting an illness or disease.
If that sounds like a lot, remember that many foods, like fruits and vegetables, contain water as well. If you have an intense workout, you might want to supplement water with a drink that helps replace the electrolytes your body is sweating out. Forget sports drinks loaded with high fructose corn syrup and additives. Opt for coconut water or water naturally flavored with lemon and honey instead.
2. Daily Exercise
Exercise. You’ve heard it before, but exercise is one of the best ways to have more energy each day. I prefer to start the day with some exercise, sometime in the morning, and the rest of my day is always better. Even a brisk walk or jog is enough. Are you wiped out after a tough workout? Take solace in the fact that incorporating regular exercise into your routine will actually boost energy levels.
Torching calories and engaging in physical activity sends oxygen and nutrients to your body’s cells, helping your heart and lungs work more efficiently and boosting energy levels. And remember, you don’t need to run a marathon to get the benefits — moderate levels of your favorite fitness activity will reap energy benefits, too.
3. Limit alcohol
One of the best hedges against the midafternoon slump is to avoid drinking alcohol at lunch. The sedative effect of alcohol is especially strong at midday.
Similarly, avoid a five o’clock cocktail if you want to have energy in the evening. If you’re going to drink, do so in moderation at a time when you don’t mind having your energy wind down.
4. More sleep
This is obvious, but most people don’t get enough sleep, so it had to be said. If you’re tired all the time, it’s possible that you need more sleep.
Shoot for 7-8 hours. Longer than 9 hours and you might actually feel more tired. If you have trouble falling asleep, turn off the computer, wind down by reading and flossing and washing up, then lay down, close your eyes, and start picturing your entire day (that just passed) in the smallest detail, from the moment you woke up. I usually fall alseep within a few minutes.
5. Find your body’s rhythm
It’s not possible to have high energy levels all day long — we all have a dip sometime. It’s a good idea to pay attention to your energy levels and do your most important work when you have the energy, and do more routine work (or rest) when you normally have a dip. Use the dip to schedule a nap or exercise or a tea break.
- Stick to a nutritious diet based on plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, daily serves of lean protein, and complex carbohydrates such as legumes and grains.
- Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast, which helps maintain blood sugar balance, and is essential for sustained energy levels throughout the day. Choose a breakfast based on whole grains, such as natural muesli with low-fat milk and chopped fruit.
- In addition, eating a combination of protein and complex carbohydrates at lunchtime may help you avoid a mid-afternoon energy slump. Examples include a chicken and salad sandwich made with wholegrain bread, chickpea curry with brown rice, and tuna and vegetables with wholegrain pasta.
- Rather than three large meals, eat six smaller meals and snacks throughout the day to sustain your energy levels and balance your blood sugar.
- Avoid foods high in fat, sugar, or salt.
- Iron from vegetarian sources is not as easily absorbed as iron from meat. Spinach and other leafy green vegetables, legumes and whole grains are important vegetarian sources of iron, along with enriched breads and cereals. Always combine iron-containing foods with foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus and other fruit, capsicum and broccoli ) in order to improve your body’s absorption of iron.
Take a break from your computer or workstation every few hours, and use that time to move around, stretch and have a glass of water. Avoid working long hours. Schedule regular periods of activities that you find relaxing. This can mean anything from walking the dog to watching a funny movie or going out to dinner with friends.
Massage is also of benefit, and as well as being relaxing can help to improve your sleep and relieve muscle tension. Learning to relax can improve stress levels and have additional benefits for restful sleep. Techniques worth trying include meditation and yoga.
Persistent or excessive fatigue should be investigated by your doctor so that any underlying medical or psychological causes can be treated appropriately.
What are you best tips for boosting your energy levels? Am I missing anything here?
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