If your energy gauge is at zero and you’re struggling to find ways to reinvigorate your get-up-and-go, these tips will help to rev up your va-va-voom, says Julie Penfold. They’re not new, but they all bear saying again; it’s an indictment of our busy lives that we need to keep reminding ourselves of the obvious…
No matter how busy your life becomes, there are three physical behaviours that you should prioritise every day to help improve energy, says Michelle Cederberg, motivational health expert and author of Energy Now! Small Steps To An Energetic Life. These are: exercise, eating a little better every day and prioritising sleep. “Your fitness goal is to consistently do more than is normal for you,” says Michelle. “If you are currently not exercising, a daily ten minute walk is a great starting point. If you continue to follow this rule, those ten minutes will gradually increase.”
Try starting your day with hot water and a slice of lemon as this helps to kickstart your liver and flush out toxins, keeping you energised throughout the day. Replacing your first cuppa of the day with hot water and lemon will also help to boost metabolism and speed up your digestive system. If you find you rely a little too heavily on caffeine to get you through the day, try drinking herbal teas alongside the caffeine as they can also provide a pick-me-up.
Naturopath Lisa Campana explains that, as caffeine is a stimulant, its power is limited. “Over time,” she says, “your body becomes more tolerant to caffeine so you may find yourself drinking more to experience the same energising effects.”
Herbal teas such as peppermint tea or green or white tea are good energising alternatives. Throughout the day, ensure you keep hydrated with water. Even minor dehydration can cause changes in the body system, leaving you feeling sluggish.
Eating slow-release energy foods such as oats and wholegrains will help to keep your blood sugar levels steady. Skipping breakfast is a big no-no as this sets your body on an erratic course for the rest of the day. When you opt not to eat in the morning, this causes your blood sugar levels to drop, while adrenalin in the body is increased, leading to quick-fix cravings for unhealthy foods, snacks and caffeine. Opting for a wholegrain breakfast will help you to feel more energetic, less stressed and more alert. Try having oats for breakfast, such as porridge or muesli. Oats are a good source of B vitamins which the body uses for energy production. Alternatively, opt for poached eggs with wholemeal toast. Adding protein to every meal also helps to slow the passage of carbohydrates through the body, which helps to keep blood sugar and energy levels steady. Other slow-release energy foods include wholemeal/wholegrain breads and pasta, brown rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa and oatcakes.
If you can’t resist a mid-morning or post-lunch snack, choose wisely. Keep easy-to-eat fruit such as satsumas and apples on hand for a healthy snack. Dried fruits and nuts are great choices to keep in office drawers, cars and handbags for whenever a snack attack hits you. Lisa recommends eating fresh fruit whenever possible and teaming this with nuts and seeds for a healthy boost, morning or afternoon.
Sleeps plays a vital role in our energy levels. Ensure your sleep is restful by developing a pre-sleep routine to help you unwind, advises Michelle. Try reading a book before bedtime: one of the most effective ways to decrease tension and increase relaxation. Jot down any worries or concerns too as this will help to ease your mind. Create a restful space by keeping your bedroom as quiet and dark as possible. Sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan also advises setting boundaries with technology and keeping all gadgets out of the bedroom. If you have any trouble sleeping, you should also avoid caffeine after 3pm.
Instant energy boosts
Break your normal routine and do something different each week. Choose something that is small, easy to do (so it doesn’t increase the stress levels) and enjoyable such as trying out a new recipe, joining a book club, going somewhere new or popping along to a new fitness class.
Getting outdoors each day increases our exposure to sunlight and can positively impact on our mood and energy levels. Spending just a short period of time in a green space is enough to give us the feel-good factor, according to Dutch researchers. They found that people who go out into nature experience big health improvements.
According to the journal Athletic Insight, loud music is one of the most effective tools for relieving stress and fatigue, while research has also shown that singing, whether in the shower, on the move, in the office or in a choir, helps to improve mood and releases tension, and gives your cardiovascular system a good workout. When you sing, this also helps you to breathe more deeply which has the knock-on effect of upping the energy. One study found that 80% of people felt energised after singing.
The scent of lemon, jasmine and peppermint all provide an instant pick-me-up. Try having a peppermint tea or sucking a peppermint when energy levels start to flag.
Plan your time and learn to lighten your load: an over-flowing to-do list is a sure-fire way to zap energy. Try highlighting only really essential tasks; reschedule or postpone the ones that aren’t quite so urgent.
Keep moving throughout the day. Don’t stay in one position for too long as your body can misread this stillness and start to slow down.