Between work, home, and family obligations, we go, go, go from the minute our alarm clock rings to the moment our head hits the pillow at night. It’s no surprise then that most of us face fatigue from time to time and turn to quick pick-me-ups like triple-shot lattes and power naps to help us get through the day.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a slave to short-term energy fixes to remedy your fatigue. Nor do you have to just grit your teeth and bear it. Instead, try introducing a few of the following fixes into your life and watch your energy levels soar.
How to Boost Your Energy With Ease
If you’ve been relying on a cup of black coffee to jumpstart your day, you need to improve your morning meal. Think of it this way: after a night of sleep, your body has been fasting for hours so you need to replenish your stores with a well-balanced meal to help get you going. Ideally you should seek out meals that are rich in protein and whole-grain carbohydrates to help your blood sugar (and energy) hold steady throughout the morning. Try scrambled eggs with a slice of toasted wheat bread or even a bowl of instant oatmeal. In a study conducted at Tufts University, researchers found that participants who ate a bowl of instant oatmeal made with a half cup of skim milk were able to stay alert throughout the morning.
If you feel like you spend your day in a fog, you may be dehydrated. A 2012 study in The Journal of Nutrition found that healthy women who failed to replace just 1.5 percent of their water weight experienced mood swings and low energy levels. You could follow the old eight-glasses-a-day rule or let your bathroom routine indicate if you’re getting enough. If you are well hydrated, you should have to use the restroom every few hours and your urine should be light yellow. If it’s not, you need to get more fluids into your body throughout the day.
Sunlight increases your body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that is thought to lift your mood and increase your energy. If possible, start your day by waking up to natural light and then make a point to get outside often as the hours pass. When you spend time outdoors and expose your body to real light—not artificial light from a florescent bulb or computer screen—you’ll boost your serotonin levels. You’ll also raise your levels of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that experts suspect plays a role in fighting fatigue as well.
MAKE EXERCISE A HABIT
It may seem counterintuitive to expend energy to increase it, but research has found that regular exercise can help individuals combat fatigue. The good news is you don’t have to endure an intense workout to receive benefits: In a study conducted at the University of Georgia, adults who participated in a low-intensity aerobic activity, like walking, for twenty minutes three times a week faced less fatigue than individuals who completed a higher intensity workout for the same amount of time.
Our bodies weren’t meant to sit and stare at computer screens all day long, but many jobs require it. To fend off that inevitable afternoon energy slump, incorporate regular bursts of activity throughout your day. Try taking phone calls at the office while standing up or walk to pick your kids up from school instead of driving. These small changes will promote good circulation in your body and help your blood transport the oxygen and nutrients that provide fuel for your muscles, brain, and more.
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