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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.