Let’s face it, life is busy. We’re working as hard as we can to stay on top of all of those things that demand our attention, but sometimes no matter how important it is or how much we want to get it all done, we simply run out of steam. When our energy wanes, but our to-do list doesn’t, we need a quick pick-me-up to get us going again—without relying on sugary, caffeinated or guarana-laden energy drinks that leave us feeling worse.
1. Get moving. As little as 10 minutes of brisk walking will perk up those neurotransmitters in your brain that increase energy and focus. If you can’t get outside, trying walking up and down the stairs several times, or doing a few jumping jacks.
2. Snooze wisely. A quick power nap of 10 to 20 minutes works best. Any longer and you risk feeling sleepy and foggy when you wake up. Do it in your chair if you can; it’s much harder to make yourself get up off the sofa or the floor.
3. Use caffeine carefully. We know coffee and other caffeinated beverages can boost energy, but be careful not to rely too heavily on your caffeine crutch. If you need an hourly caffeine hit, you might want to look elsewhere for your jolt. Some caffeine pointers: try espresso for a more concentrated caffeine hit, add a bit of milk to smooth out the caffeine crash, and consider switching to tea if you get the coffee jitters.
4. Have a power snack. A small healthy snack that has protein or fiber, a little bit of carbs, but is low in sugar, will help counteract the low blood sugar crash and prevent another. Some suggestions: low-fat yogurt, granola bar, fruit smoothie, handful of nuts or trail mix, or my favorite, an apple with peanut butter.
5. Drink some H2O. Interestingly, the most common reason for fatigue is dehydration, causing everything from impaired concentration and memory recall to decreased physical endurance and problem solving ability. Luckily, it’s very simple to fix. Get a drink of water, a big one.
6. Try a breathing break. Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing as it’s frequently called, draws more air into your lungs giving your cells an oxygen boost. Here’s how you do it: Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Now slowly breathe in for a count of five. Feel your hand being pushed out by your belly, you raise your chest as little as possible. Hold for a few counts, then exhale slowly for a count of five, feeling your hand lower as your belly pushes back in. Repeat this cycle for five minutes. Slowly increase the length of your inhale and exhale to a count of 10 as you become more familiar with the practice.
7. Get some sun. Sunlight has a direct stimulating effect on our brains, giving us an immediate elevation of our energy and mood. Sneak outside to soak up some rays for 10 to 15 minutes during the day for a mental pick-me-up. If you can’t get outside, open up the blinds and let in as much sunlight as possible. Stand in front of the window and absorb those energy-inducing rays.
8. Stretch it out. Get out of your chair, stand up tall, and reach for the sky. Roll your shoulders and throw in some arm circles if you have the room. Rotate your wrists and ankles, (both directions please.) Stretching not only increases blood flow, it also loosens up the joints, and eases the aches and pains from tension and sitting too long. Remember to breathe slowly as you’re stretching.
9. Turn on the tunes. Playing music is an easy and effective way to wake us up, but your choice of music matters. Choose something that’s lively, with a quick beat and some extra bass, preferably. Save the birdsongs and classical piano for another time.
10. Take a hit of chocolate. Small amounts of dark chocolate can actually be a very wholesome energy enhancer. Dark chocolate contains those healthy antioxidants we need, has slightly more caffeine than milk chocolate, and releases happy endorphins, not to mention it’s yummy.
11. Self-acupressure. It might sound odd, but some quick acupressure can be as effective at boosting alertness as a small cup of Joe. Squeeze the fleshy area between your thumb and first finger, hold 5-10 seconds. Alternatively, tap lightly on the top of your head (crown) for a few minutes while taking deep breaths. Both will stimulate energy, while releasing stress, for a double whammy pick-me-up.
12. Laugh out loud. Every time you laugh, your blood flow increases, extra oxygen courses through your organs, and your stress hormones drop. Crazy as it sounds, just thinking about something humorous gives you a mental boost. Share a few jokes, watch a funny YouTube video, or read the comics, whatever strikes your funny bone.
13. Get your lemon fix. Who knew that lemon was a secret energy booster? Simply adding lemon to your water amps up your hydration by providing extra antioxidants, immune boosting vitamin C, and electrolytes. But lemon is good for more than that. Citrus fragrances, lemon in particular, have been found to directly affect neurotransmitters in the brain, helping boost our feel-good energy hormones while stimulating mental alertness. For a quick fix cut a fresh lemon in half and breathe it in, keep a bottle of lemon oil in your desk drawer, burn a lemon scented candle, lather on some lemon scented lotion, or suck on a lemon drop.Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and success coach. She is the founder of Productive Life Concepts and has been featured on top rated blogs such as Stepcase Lifehack and The Huffington Post. You can also find her musings on life and business at GuardWife.com and Twitter.com/RoyaleScuderi.
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