You wake up feeling beat, guzzle a cup of coffee to help you power through a mile-long to-do list and then spend the evening slumped over on the couch. And you’re doing it day after day.
If you’re uneasy about how you feel, try setting up a consultation with your practitioner. If everything looks OK, try these tricks for an instant energy boost.
Savor a Stretch
Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, spend a few minutes stretching in bed.
“Stretching releases tightness and constriction in your muscles, which then allows more blood flow,” says yoga teacher Kate Hanley, author of Stress Less (Adams Media).
If you feel your energy levels flagging during the day, stop to stretch: Place both hands on the wall, shoulder-width apart, and step back until your torso is at a 45° angle from the floor; then hold the pose for 60 seconds to stretch your back, shoulders and hamstrings.
Eat a Protein-Packed Breakfast
Your morning meal plays a huge role in how you feel throughout the day.
Sweet breakfasts like muffins or sugary cereals may cause your energy levels to spike, but the following drop can leave you feeling wiped out.
However, choosing whole foods that are chock full of protein—think eggs, oatmeal, Greek yogurt and pumpkin seeds—can help rev up your energy levels, according to registered dietitian Vicki Shanta Retelny, author ofTotal Body Diet for Dummies (For Dummies).
“Protein is made of amino acids, which provides fuel for your muscle cells,” Retelny explains. “Protein-rich foods take a bit longer to digest, too, which appeases your appetite longer.”
If your mornings are a frenzied rush, protein powders from sources such as sunflower, pumpkin seed, almond and pea make breakfast a snap—throw them in a blender with some water or plant-based milk and add some berries for a fast smoothie. Be sure to find powders that are organic and certified non-GMO, and look for products that are enhanced with natural enzyme blends.
Stock Up on Snacks
Eating healthy snacks—such as nuts, cheese, fruit or yogurt—throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar levels even, enabling you to avoid extreme energy peaks and valleys.
“You’ll experience fewer energy slumps if you fuel your body every three to four hours,” Retelny says.
Steer clear of foods that are high in fat and sugar, and choose healthier snacks with a combination of nutrients. Think plain yogurt with fruit and nuts; an apple with cheese or peanut butter; or a whole-grain English muffin topped with scrambled eggs and veggies.
Strike a Pose
Yoga might be a calming practice but it also has a big impact on energy.
“A yoga practice improves flexibility and promotes strength, which wards off the aches and pains that can zap your desire to get up and go,” Hanley says. “A long-term yoga practice, where you adapt the poses to how you are feeling that particular day, helps keep you on an even energetic keel: You get relaxation when you are tired and strength-building when you are feeling strong.”
Back extensions, where the chest lifts up and the spine comes in to some level of a backward arch, are heralded for their ability to raise energy because they compress and massage the kidneys and the adrenal glands, which tend to get overtaxed in our busy, stressful lives, Hanley adds. She suggests poses like Sphinx and Locust to provide a jolt of energy.
Break a Sweat
Instead of using a lack of energy as an excuse to not move, use it as motivation to get out there.
The next time you’re dragging, walk around the block, go for a short bike ride or swim a few laps in the pool.
Stand Up Straight
Mom was right—again—when she told you to stand up straight. Bad posture can slowly sap your energy. That’s because slouching requires your muscles to work harder to hold up your body, and that can lead to fatigue.
Sitting up straight has been linked to less anxiety and increased alertness, and walking tall helps improve outlook and energy levels.
The next time you need a little extra energy, check your posture. The simple act of squaring your shoulders, lengthening your spine and sitting (or walking) without slouching could provide all the energy you need to power through that afternoon slump.
Take a Deep Breath
The next time you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Stress can sap your energy but pausing to breathe can help restore it.
“Breath delivers oxygen to your cells; because we need oxygen to survive, the more you breathe, the more alive you feel,” Hanley says.
She suggests the “skull-shining breath” for a boost of energy: Inhale about two-thirds of the way full, draw your belly button in as you forcefully exhale through your nose, then release the belly and let the air flow in naturally to the vacuum that release creates. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
Get Enough Sleep
You know that getting enough sleep is important, but how often do you sacrifice a few hours of shut-eye in favor of crossing one more thing off your to-do list?
“Poor sleep increases feelings of fatigue and no one wants to feel tired all the time,” says Mohan Dutt, MD. For optimal health, you should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
Soak Up the Sun (Within Reason)
Studies show that an estimated 42% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D.† Spending time outdoors can help you create your own; aim for five to 30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at least twice a week. (After that, slap on the sunscreen.)
Vitamin D supplements can also help boost D levels. (A high-quality multivitamin, one based on whole foods, can help cover your nutritional bases.) And make sure you get enough of the B vitamins, which support natural energy production (especially B12).*
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.