Are you tired of feeling sluggish, struggling to stay awake or chugging multiple cups of coffee to get through the day? There are many safe and natural ways to boost energy levels.
Low energy can be caused by a variety of factors including stress, certain medications, thyroid issues, depression or fatigue. Changing your diet, getting more exercise and improving sleep quality are just a few of the easiest strategies to try.
One of the best ways to boost energy levels is to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients. Eating foods from all of the major food groups can help provide energy-boosting vitamins, minerals and essential fats.
It’s also important to balance carbohydrates with protein and healthy fats, because too many simple carbohydrates in a sitting can cause blood sugar to rise rapidly and trigger the release of excess insulin. This can lead to a low energy crash. Eating complex carbohydrates, such as oatmeal with berries and an ounce of nuts or whole-grain English muffin with almond butter, may help prevent this effect.
Leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, bok choy and spinach, are an excellent source of energy-boosting nutrients, including B vitamins and folic acid. Fatty cold-water fish, such as salmon and sardines, are an excellent source of energy-boosting omega-3 fatty acids. And dark chocolate, which is lower in sugar than milk chocolate, can provide a natural energy boost by helping to get the blood pumping and bring fresh oxygen to the brain.
If you find yourself reaching for a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage as a mid-afternoon pick me up, try drinking a glass of water instead. Water increases blood flow, which energizes the body. Caffeine, on the other hand, provides a quick energy boost but wears off quickly.
Adequate hydration is also essential for digestive health and overall well-being. It is important to drink enough water with and in between meals to help prevent constipation, gas, bloating, and heartburn.
In one study, high-thirst participants performed better on a cognitively demanding task after drinking water than low-thirst participants. In addition, studies have shown that increased water intake can decrease the risk of kidney stones and promote weight loss.
The amount of fluid needed to maintain optimal hydration varies by individual and depends on environmental conditions, physical activity level, and other factors. In general, drinking enough fluids to produce straw or lemonade-colored urine is a good indicator of adequate hydration.
The benefits of exercise are many, including increasing energy. Those with low energy often avoid physical activity due to the misconception that exercise will make them feel more tired, but regular workouts can actually help boost energy levels.
Studies show that exercising regularly increases the body’s ability to circulate oxygen, which improves energy and decreases fatigue. Exercise also helps reduce stress and depression, which can contribute to feelings of exhaustion.
While high-intensity workouts are great for building strength and endurance, it is important to incorporate low-intensity exercises into a regular exercise routine to boost energy levels. For example, walking has been shown to be an effective way to increase energy. (1)
For those who struggle to find the motivation to get moving, encourage them to start small by taking a 20-minute walk on their lunch break. Even this simple exercise will be more effective at boosting energy than a cup of coffee or sugary snack! Also, be sure to advise them that too much exercise can have the opposite effect.
Getting enough quality sleep is vital for good health. It restores hormonal balance, repairs tissues and cells, keeps the immune system functioning properly, and helps form and store memories. It also promotes a healthy weight, lowers stress levels and keeps blood sugar consistent. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
Many people are tempted to grab energy-boosting drinks, snacks and supplements to combat fatigue. However, these can often be high in sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Plus, their effects can be short-lived. It is best to try natural methods, such as increasing physical activity, eating a balanced diet and improving sleep quality.
If you are feeling consistently tired, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor to make sure that the fatigue isn’t a symptom of a more serious health issue. Conditions such as thyroid problems, depression and anemia can all cause chronic fatigue. In addition, some medications may also cause fatigue as a side effect. Lastly, it is important to avoid consuming caffeine after 3pm as it can interfere with quality sleep.
Everyone experiences stress at times. It is a natural reaction that occurs when you encounter challenges or threats (stressors). Stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol help you cope by increasing blood flow to your muscles and heart, so more oxygen can reach your brain. But if you are stressed out all the time, it can affect your health and well-being.
Symptoms of poorly managed stress include feeling tired all the time, aches and pains, sleep problems, mood swings, anxiety, depression, and unhealthy ways of dealing with it such as smoking or drinking excessively. If you’re suffering from these symptoms, talk to your GP or health professional for advice.
To boost energy levels naturally, try eating a healthy balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting enough quality sleep and relaxing with meditation or mindfulness exercises such as yoga or Tai Chi. Avoid high-impact exercise if you feel drained by it as this may trigger more adrenaline and cortisol production, but low impact exercises such as walking and gentle yoga or meditation can work wonders to calm your body and mind.
Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet and maintaining low stress levels can all help maintain energy levels. However, sometimes these measures aren’t enough and a natural energy supplement may be helpful.
Registered dietitians and wellness counselors recommend a variety of supplements that can boost energy levels including B vitamins, glutathione, matcha and maca root. They also note that dietary supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 is especially beneficial for those who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome, as it helps to support energy production at the cellular level.
Ayurvedic herb ashwagandha, which has long been used in traditional Indian medicine, is another dietary supplement that can increase energy. It is thought to act as an adaptogen, which can help the body better manage stress and anxiety. (8)
Mindful Breathing and Relaxation Techniques
Mindful breathing and relaxation techniques can be used to calm the nervous system and promote a sense of peace. They involve focusing attention on the natural rhythm and flow of your breath and paying attention to how it feels during each inhalation and exhalation. These practices are easy to learn and can be done anywhere. They can also be helpful for reducing stress, anxiety and depression. They can even help you sleep better and control high blood pressure. Mindful breathing is an integral component of many forms of mindfulness meditation. For example, the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts (n.d) recommends mindful breathing to clients undergoing cancer treatment.
Breathing meditation can reduce burnout, cynicism and emotional exhaustion and help you to feel more relaxed and energized. It can also decrease negative automatic thoughts and increase positive automatic thoughts.
Breathwork techniques include cyclic sighing, box breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and resonant breathing. These exercises are based on traditional Eastern approaches to mindfulness meditation and yoga. Studies show that they reduce anxiety but do not completely eliminate it.
It’s no secret that our lifestyles can be hectic and exhausting. But while it may seem tempting to reach for a cup of coffee or energy drink for an instant boost, the truth is there are many natural ways to combat fatigue and put a spring back in your step.
Sleep, adequate hydration, exercise and quality nutrition are just some of the natural strategies that can help you feel more energetic. It’s also important to limit sources of stress, and consider incorporating meditation or mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. Vitamin D is another key nutrient that can help improve energy levels, and it’s best absorbed by spending a few minutes in the sun each day (although if you live in a dark climate, consider taking a supplement) or eating foods fortified with vitamin D.
However, it’s also important to note that chronic fatigue is sometimes a sign of underlying health issues, including thyroid problems, depression and anemia. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, consult with your doctor to determine the cause and treatment options.