Spring is finally here! Birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and the weather has started trending a touch warmer. Spring is also a great time to take steps to boost your energy levels, especially if you’ve been a bit sedentary over the past year.
Here are some natural tips to add some pep in your step!
Manage stress. Between juggling work, family, finances, and other commitments, it’s easy to get stressed out, especially in the age of Covid. But it’s important to set aside some time to decompress and unwind—before stress starts to affect your health. Learning to manage your stress takes some practice, but you can and should do it. First, try loosening tight muscles by stretching, taking a hot bath or shower, or enjoying a massage.
Deep breathing can also help you de-stress. Next time you find yourself getting overwhelmed, sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Now imagine yourself in a relaxing place and slowly breath in and out for at least five minutes. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel afterwards.
Clock out. Many of us may still be working from home right now. If you are, it may be tempting to “clock in” a little early, work through lunch, and then work a little later than you normally would if you were still in the office. But working too much is one of the main causes of fatigue. Try streamlining your list of “must do” tasks, prioritizing the most important and paring down those that are less pressing. And remember to take breaks to give yourself a chance to recharge.
Exercise. Exercise is a great way to boost energy. When your body becomes more active, internal mechanisms like metabolism and blood flow increase. It’s like waking your body back up from the inside. Once your metabolism increases to keep up with the demands of your day, remember that you have to refuel with healthy whole foods that provide energy.
Quit smoking. It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your health, but did you also know that smoking can siphon off your energy by causing insomnia?1 The nicotine in tobacco is a stimulant, so it speeds up your heart rate, raises blood pressure, and stimulates brain-wave activity associated with wakefulness. This makes it harder to fall asleep. Once you do fall asleep, tobacco’s addictive power can kick in and wake you up with cravings.
Get enough sleep. Sleep is just as critical to your body as the other basic functions of survival like eating and breathing. Sleep is also needed for energy conservation. Yet many of us are sleep deprived. Fortunately there are some simple tricks to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep. First, increase your exposure to bright light during the day. This can be as simple as getting in a 10 minute walk around your neighborhood. This can help because your body has a natural clock known as your circadian rhythm. This internal time keeper affects your brain, body, and hormones, helping you stay awake during the day and telling your body when it’s time to sleep.
Another helpful tip is to avoid caffeine late in the day. We know, it can help keep you alert. But when consumed late in the day, it stimulates your nervous system and may prevent your body from relaxing at night. In fact, caffeine can stay present in your blood for six to eight hours, so it is recommended to stop drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages after 4 p.m., especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping.2
Eat energy-boosting foods. Eating foods with a low glycemic index (whose sugars are absorbed slowly) may help you avoid the lag in energy that typically happens after eating quickly absorbed sugars or starches. Foods with a low glycemic index include whole grains, high-fiber veggies, nuts, and healthy oils like olive oil. For reference, proteins and fats have glycemic indexes close to zero.
Try an energy-supporting supplement. B vitamins are needed to carry out many different bodily functions. They help the metabolic system function properly, help form red blood cells, and even improve cognitive abilities.3 One of the best known benefits of the Bs is their ability to improve energy. That’s because B vitamins allow your body convert food into energy, one of its most basic, yet most important functions. Some people also attribute these nutrients as a way to reduce fatigue, improve cognitive performance, and even lead to a better mood.
If you’ve been feeling a little sluggish or unfocused lately, now might be the time to consider adding some of these practices to your daily routine. You’ll have that spring in your step in no time! But if you have been feeling a little more fatigued than normal, please consult with a health care professional.
- Wetter D, Young W. The relation between cigarette smoking and sleep disturbance. Preventative Medicine. 1994; 23(3): 328-334.
- Fredholm B, Battig K, Holmen J, et al. Actions of caffeine in the brain with special reference to factors that contribute to its widespread use. Pharmacology Review. 1999; 51(1): 83-133.
- Morris M. The role of B vitamins in preventing and treating cognitive impairment and decline. Advances in Nutrition. 2012; 3(6): 801-812.
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.