Get more energy - right now!
Lost your mojo? With these quick and easy ideas, you’ll be up and at ‘em in no time at all.
1. And breathe ... Have you noticed that when you’re tired your chest feels tight and your shoulders are up around your ears? “We breathe shallowly when we’re overwhelmed,” says certified clinical nutritionist, Emma Sgourakis. “This makes you feel tired because you’re reducing the supply of oxygen to the body and brain.” Concentrate on your breathing at least once an hour (set your computer alarm clock if you need reminding), and fill your body with a deep breath, through the nose, then slowly deflate your tummy, breathing out through the mouth.
2. Get moving In research from the University of Georgia, it was found that just 20 minutes of low-intensity exercise (such as swimming, slow walking or cycling) daily increased energy levels by 65 percent.
3. Drink up Around 65 percent of us walk around with less than our required liquid intake. According to Dr Simon Floreani, president of the Chiropractors Association of Australia, you need to drink one medicine-sized glass of water (30ml) for every kilogram you weigh. So if you weigh 60kg, you’ll need to down at least 1.8 litres each day. Remember that those cups of tea don’t contribute to your water intake, although cordial drinks and coffee do (but still keep these to a minimum).
4. Have a splash In a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55 percent of participants felt more energised after splashing their faces with water.
5. Meditate Stop. Close your eyes. Breathe. “That’s all you need to do for a beneficial meditation,” says meditation teacher Rebecca Dettman (www.RebeccaDettman.com). “Even just three minutes will boost your energy levels, because meditating decreases the stress hormone cortisol, which creates tense muscles and constricts blood vessels.” Ideally, says Dettman, begin each day with a mini-meditation before getting out of bed, by visualising the day ahead. “Imagine yourself full of beans, finishing all your tasks,” she says. “You’ll leap out of bed, raring to go.”
6. Give yourself a tap Feel more alert by tapping several times in the area between your nose and upper lip. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine reports that students who were taught to self-administer acupressure treatments to stimulation points on their legs, feet, hands and faces were less fatigued.
7. Take a sniff Aromatherapy oils can do wonders for pepping up your mood. According to Japanese scientists, the best scents to alter boost energy levels are lemon, mango, peppermint and lavender. Add five drops to your oil burner (or two of each if you’re combining oils), ensuring there is enough water in the vessel first.
8. Book the right massage “Getting your body back into alignment can make the difference between feeling energised or exhausted,” says Gwinganna Health Retreat’s myotherapist Allan Mourad. “Ask your massage therapist to focus on aligning your muscles, which will help oxygen flow, and finish off with a brisk head rub to ensure the blood is flowing around your brain. A foot rub will also get the blood circulating around your body and you’ll feel much lighter and focused afterwards,” he says. Use energy-boosting oils in a base carrier oil – try eucalyptus for a clear head.
9. Take a tulsi break Guru Deepak Chopra recommends tulsi, or holy basil, as an Ayurvedic remedy for helping to boost energy levels. Either sip in a tea, or take as a supplement.
10. Cut carbs Pasta, bread or biscuits may give you a burst of energy, but you’ll feel a slump shortly afterwards. Keep your carb intake to no more than 150g: choose from five servings of veg, two of fruit and three of bread, rice or pasta, and replace those carb-shaped holes with protein - a study at the University of Illinois found that women who cut down on carbohydrates and increased their protein intake reported feeling more energetic.
11. Hang out Time spent with close friends boosts your immunity and helps you feel energised. And the more the merrier! Research says the more friends you have, the healthier you'll be. Carnegie Mellon doctors gave 83 students an influenza vaccine and found that those with larger social networks produced more flu-fighting antibodies than those who hung out in smaller groups.
12. Book a comedy show Just the expectation of a fun night out is enough to increase your endorphin levels by 27 percent. “High levels of endorphins are related to your energy levels,” says health, fitness and wellbeing expert Kylie Saunder, of Mindful-Wellbeing (http://mindful-wellbeing.com.au). “Taking joy in your life and laughing is a very easy way to feel more alive.” Log onto what’s on in your area and make some plans. “You’ll feel more purposeful and energised, knowing you have social engagements coming up,” she says.
13. Stand on tip toe “Raising your body weight onto your toes, or just rolling your toes back and forth while you’re seated, is an easy and instant way to get your circulation going and boost your energy,” says Saunder. This is because the tips of the toes are highly sensitive acupressure points, which respond well to stimulation.
14. Sing the praises of ginseng “A cup of ginseng tea or some drops of tincture under the tongue are both a great way to instantly boost flagging energy levels,” says Head of Southern Cross University's NatMed research unit, GP and naturopath Professor Stephen Myers.
15. Wake up time A study at the UK’s University of Westminster has found that waking up before 7.22 a.m. could raise cortisol levels in your bloodstream. “Increased cortisol levels – the body’s stress hormone – rob your body of much needed pep, as well as add weight gain around your tummy,” says nutritionist Leanne Cooper of Cadence Health (www.cadencehealth.com.au). If this late-ish waking hour is not always possible, Cooper adds, “Try at least to wake up at the same time every day, and to eat within one hour of waking. This will give you the energy you need to start the day, as well as help you avoid snacking on sugary snacks mid-morning.”
16. Smile Even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing, flashing a big cheesy grin to the world can do wonders for lifting your mood. A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that nodding your head or smiling have an immediate positive effect on the brain. Frowning or shaking your head has the opposite effect.
17. Hug a tree Spending time communing with nature will immediately make you feel more energised, and you’ll feel the benefits for days afterwards. In a series of studies in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, Richard Ryan, lead author and a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, found that just being outdoors for 20 minutes was enough to significantly boost vitality. To really get back to nature, head to one of the many national parks dotted around the country. Visit http://www.atn.com.au/parks/parks.htm to find one close to you.
18. Yoga Rejuvenate with this great yoga stretch. Inhale and reach your arms up. Release your shoulder blades down your back and exhale, tilting your torso to one side as you continue reaching up through the sternum and out through the fingers. Keep the palms parallel. Inhale back to centre, and then stretch to the other side. Do this movement on waking and whenever you feel your enthusiasm flagging. Try Bikram or Kundalini yoga for further tips on energy-boosting moves.
19. Suck on a mint Eating or smelling a peppermint can speed up your trigeminal nerve, the same nerve that’s activated by smelling salts, making you feel more alert, according to research from the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation.
20. Take CoQ10 Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is best known for its role in supporting heart health, by maintaining energy production in heart cells. Now a study in Neuroendocrinology Letters shows that people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) also have extremely low levels of CoQ10. The researchers conclude that “CFS patients may benefit from CoQ10 supplements.”
21. Create ripples “Spending time with those less fortunate than you is a good way to gain perspective on your problems,” says life coach Paola Branas-Born (www.clickalifecoach.com). Not only will it make you feel better about yourself, but you’ll get a buzz from your altruistic actions. A study in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour found that volunteer work boosts your energy in six ways: happiness, life satisfaction, confidence, balance, immunity and mood. In fact, it’s the act of giving that actually gives back.
22. Switch your thinking This technique comes from neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).
* Close your eyes and imagine a ‘trigger picture’ – what makes you feel exhausted? Maybe it’s you surrounded by to-do lists. Make it big, like a computer screen.
* Now imagine a ‘switch-picture’ of how you want to be instead, in your ideal, energised state. Place this at the bottom of the screen, like an icon. Select the icon and bring it up to fill the screen, deleting the negative picture.
* Open your eyes and stamp your feet. Repeat whenever you start to slump.
23. Swing low This anytime-anywhere exercise sends a lightning flash of energy through your body.
* Stand with feet apart, knees relaxed, eyes open. Clasp your hands behind your back, palms facing the floor.
* Bend forwards so your back makes a right angle with your legs. Keep your head in line with your back. Stretch your hands up as far as is comfortable, and inhale; hold for a count of five, then exhale and straighten up.
24. Stand like a mountain How you hold yourself has an immediate effect on energy levels. Stand tall: imagine that your head is attached to the ceiling with string. Blink tightly five times, then gaze ahead. Clench your hands rapidly five times, then let them fall softly. Yawn widely then smile. Repeat an energising affirmation, e.g. ‘I am feeling alert and focused.’
25. Put food first
* Start the day the right way: The saying “breakfast like a king” may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie. “Eating a wholesome meal at the beginning of the day will give you enough nutrients and energy for the coming stresses and demands,” says nutritionist Leanne Cooper. Which breakfast is best? According to a study at the UK’s Cardiff University, a breakfast rich in fibre makes you more alert during the day. The study found that people who ate a high-fibre cereal in the morning showed a ten percent reduction in fatigue, were less likely to be depressed, and were able to process information quicker. “Look for cereals with no or reduced levels of sugar added, as these only give you a false sense of energy,” says Cooper. “Add sweetness with chopped berries, bananas and seeds such as linseeds or chia seeds.”
* Eat regularly: “Your body is like a car – it needs filling up regularly and a service check every set number of kilometres,” says Cooper. “It needs to be fed and watered at the same time every day in order to maintain its energy levels. When you skip one of your set meal times, your body goes into a deep slump, blood sugar levels plummet and your metabolic rate slows down.” Be organised and prepare your meals for the coming day. Your body will thank you for it.
* Focus on brain food: Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna, salmon, walnuts and cold-pressed oils, are necessary for keeping your brain alert. Omega-3s also encourage the body to store carbohydrates as glycogen – which it uses to help regulate blood sugar – so you’ll have a steady stream of energy throughout the day.