Do you feel exhausted before your day is done? Are you too tired on the weekends to go out and ‘play’? Struggling to find energy to exercise, cook a meal, or get the laundry done, or even started? If you answered, “yes!” to any of these questions, you are not alone! A recent study found that 76% of US workers felt tired many days of the week.
What can you do to kick that fatigue to the curb, and get the energy you need to live the life you want? Fortunately, there are many things that can be done! However, it is important to determine the cause of your fatigue. There are many medical conditions that can cause decreased energy levels such as adrenal fatigue, anemia, and thyroid conditions, to name a few. So, it is important to discuss your symptoms with a doctor if they continue to persist.
Here are some of my favorite ways to increase energy levels:
1. Improve Your Sleep Routine.
A consistent routine can be crucial in obtaining the amount of sleep we need to function at an optimal level throughout the day. Although the amount of sleep one needs varies, most individuals will do well with around 7 hours of sleep a night. When thinking of a sleep routine, keep the word “DREAM” in mind:
“D” stands for Drowsy and Dark. You will want to be drowsy before going to bed so that you will fall asleep easily and not find yourself staring at the walls wide awake. Also, making sure the room you sleep in is dark will help send signals to the brain that it is time for sleep. You may want to try room-darkening curtains to achieve this, especially in the summer months.
“R” stands for Routine. Determine a routine that you can follow every night to help you relax and ready yourself for sleep. This may include a warm bath, reading a book, or enjoying a cup of tea. However, remaining consistent with your routine is equally important as establishing one. Following your routine every day, including weekends, will ensure your body learns, and recognizes, it is time for sleep.
“E” stands for electronics. Screens, including smart phones, ipads, computers, TVs, kindles, etc., emit light that disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Refraining from all screens for at least one hour before bed can be very beneficial to your sleep routine. Making sure all screens are out of your bedroom can also be helpful.
“A” stands for Avoidance. Avoiding stimulants (think caffeine and nicotine) in the late afternoon and evening hours will help you avoid staring at the walls or watching the clock after shutting off the lights. I recommend having your last cup of coffee before 12:00pm. Avoiding alcohol is also a great idea. Saying sayonara to that nightcap will help you stay asleep through the night, enabling you to get more restorative rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
“M” stands for Mattress: If your body is not being supported correctly, you may find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night, resulting in waking tired and unrested. If your mattress is 5-10 years old, you may want to consider purchasing a new one. Mattresses also can harbor allergens that may contribute to poor sleep quality.
Hydrotherapy, or the use of water in any form for the maintenance of health and treatment of disease, is a great way to increase your energy! Starting the day with a contrast shower not only increases your energy, it also improves circulation of the circulatory and lymphatic systems, resulting in less common colds, aches and pains including joint pain and headaches, and aiding in detoxification. But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself! Begin your shower with your normal warm water for 3-5 minutes. Next, turn the water to the coldest you can stand for 30 seconds. Repeat this process three times, always ending your shower with 30 seconds of cold water.
3. Add a Pop of Color
Colors like red and violet cause the body to produce more adrenaline, which will raise your heart rate, blood pressure, and deliver more oxygen to your muscles. These biological effects of adrenaline will provide you with that extra energy boost you are looking for. Too incorporate these vibrant colors into your day, try placing a bouquet of beautiful, bright red blooms in your office or kitchen table. Or, you may want to incorporate some vivid violet into your living room décor, or a picture frame on your office desk. Get creative, have fun, and feel energized!
4. Cat Videos
You read that right! Who doesn’t love a good cat video? But seriously, a good laugh can actually boost your energy levels! Laughing can raise blood pressure and heart rate, giving you that extra little energy boost you need to make that deadline at work, cheer on you kid at the big game, or meeting friends for dinner. Don’t have the energy to surf the net for a laugh? Try this Cat video!
We have all heard it before, “exercise is good for you”. Well, now you have heard it again! Study after study finds that exercise provides us with increased energy and decreased feelings of fatigue. What’s even better is that you don’t have to be an athlete or engage in long, intense workouts to reap the benefits. Just a 10-minute power walk can provide you with up to 2 hours of added energy! For more permanent, long lasting results, try maintaining a regular workout schedule. Engaging in as little as 20 minutes of aerobic activity, in low to moderate intensity, three days a week will result in increased energy levels according to a recent study.
6. Eat breakfast
Breakfast literally means “breaking the fast”, because it’s your first meal after sleeping, and therefore, fasting. It’s best to think of breakfast as the key to a high performance sports car (your metabolism); if we don’t turn the key and start the engine, all that fuel (think stored body fat) will just sit there. But, if we turn the key, we start (and rev up!) the engine and begin burning fuel, resulting in our ability to speed down the raceway and come in 1st place! Not only that, but studies have found that people who eat breakfast have more energy throughout the day, eat more nutrient dense foods, and are less likely to be obese. Too busy in the morning to make breakfast? Try making a quick smoothie to drink on the go! Here is a favorite green smoothie recipe of mine, guaranteed to power you through your morning with all the energy you will need to cross that finish line!
7. Drink More Fluids
Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling sluggish, and contribute to headaches, irregularity, and difficulty concentrating. Prevent dehydration from zapping your energy by following the simple equation; drink ½ of your body weight in ounces daily. This intake should be from water, not beverages such as soda, juice, and coffee. If you enjoy flavor in your water, try infusing it with your favorite fruit, or even vegetables such as cucumber. You may also consider adding an electrolyte supplement to water, such as NUUN tablets, to add minerals lost while sweating during physical activity.
8. Eat More Fat!
Contrary to popular belief, adding fat to your diet can be beneficial to your overall health! Eating foods high in monosaturated and polysaturated fats provide your cells with the fuel they need to make energy. More specifically, these types of fats play a critical role in the production of energy in the form of ATP, made in the inner membrane of the mitochondria in the cell. Foods rich in these fats include avocados, coconut oil, and wild caught salmon. Try adding some coconut oil to your morning coffee, avocado to your sandwich or salad at lunch, or enjoying some baked salmon for dinner.
9. B Vitamins
B vitamins play an important role in many biochemical reactions in the body, including energy production. While being deficient in B vitamins may decrease energy levels, it may also result in decreased oxygen delivered to muscle tissues, imbalance of neurotransmitters, and even depression and anxiety. B vitamins are commonly depleted by many pharmaceutical medications, so ask your doctor if any medication you are taking deplete B vitamins. Also, as we age, we often do not absorb B vitamins as well. Foods rich in B vitamins include vegetables, seeds, nuts, and legumes. If you are having a hard time getting extra B vitamins through food, many of my patients taking a quality B vitamin supplement report increased energy.
10. The Power of 3
We all know that if we want a car (our bodies) to go, it has to have fuel (the food we put in to our body). While some days we may have a short commute, there are bound to be days where a long road trip is in order. So, how do we maximize the fuel we put in our car to make sure we get to our destination without stopping? Think of the power of 3! Including a source of protein (think beans, nuts, and lean meats), fat (think avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, and flax seeds) and fiber (think leafy greens and veggies, whole grains, and lentils) in each meal and snack will not only provide you with the fuel you need to keep your car going, but that fuel will keep that gas tank fuller, longer. Road trip, here we come! Some of my favorite snack and mini-meal ideas include:
– Hummus with raw veggies like carrots, snap peas, and celery.
– Whole grain cracker(s) topped with almond butter and banana.
– Full fat, organic plain yogurt topped with organic fruit, chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey.
Modern life demands a lot from us! It can be challenging to try to fit everything into our day without the energy we need. Hopefully, with these tips and tricks up your sleeve, you will breeze through your day with some energy to spare! However, if you are still struggling after trying these tips, I would be happy to help you determine the cause of your lack of energy so you can live and enjoy the life you want!