Feeling energized is a high priority for all of us. I mean, who wouldn’t want to go through their days feeling like they’re at 100 percent? Whether we’re working out, creating a big presentation for work, or running around in the park with our kids, having the mental and physical strength to get through our day makes a huge difference in our overall health and happiness.
Unfortunately, far too many of us suffer from lethargy, sleepiness, and fatigue — as a result of lifestyle factors that sabotage our energy levels — and it’s holding us back in a major way. And even if we have decent energy levels, we might be relying a little too much on constant hits of sugar throughout the day — usually in the form of sodas, cookies, candy, and even sweetened cocktails — to stay on top of things.
Now, we’re not going to tell you to eat zero grams of sugar a day, that’s just not feasible, nor is it any fun. But it doesn’t hurt to cultivate some practices that help fuel your body and mind in healthier, more sustainable ways. Here are five to try out now:
Exercise can leave us feeling tired in the short-term, but over time, exercise is one of the best things we can do for our energy levels. For example, an analysis from the University of Georgia showed that a regular exercise routine plays a significant role in reducing fatigue and increasing energy levels.
If you’re already a regular exerciser, you almost definitely already understand the benefits for your energy levels. If it’s been a while since you’ve hit the home gym, pavement, or yoga mat, start by committing to moving your body every single day in some way. This doesn’t have to mean training for a marathon or taking an expensive group fitness class, either. It could be as simple as a walk after dinner, 20-minutes of stretching, or 5 minutes of jumping jacks or dancing after lunch.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring chemical found in a wide range of plants, including cocoa beans, kola nuts, tea leaves and of course, coffee beans. One of nature’s most useful compounds, caffeine is a great way to boost energy and brain power throughout the day, especially when it comes in the form of low-sugar coffees, teas, and energy drinks. Coffee and sugar often feel like a package deal, but there are tons of ways to consume caffeine without overdosing on added sugars. For example, with zero grams of sugar, Monster Energy Zero Ultra will give you the boost and flavor you crave, with less sugar and a lighter taste. Other options include a cup of black tea with a splash of unsweetened almond milk or a square of dark chocolate.
3. An Ideal Sleep Environment
We’ve all heard the words “Sleep 8 hours a night!” over and over again since we were kids. But when it comes to sleep, that’s way easier said than done. For many of us, demanding jobs and parenting duties mean that 8 hours is a lofty goal. So what’s the next best thing? If you’re only able to sleep 6 or 7 hours a night, make sure you’re getting the highest quality sleep possible by sleeping in a cold room. According to the National Sleep Foundation, cooler temperatures — aim for around 65ºF — will help you fall asleep faster and prevent restlessness during the night. By keeping it cool in your bedroom, you’ll increase your sleep quality and wake up feeling refreshed, even if you’re not hitting that elusive 8-hour goal.
It might surprise you to learn that meditation can help with sleep, but it’s true! Research has shown that mindfulness meditation in particular can help fend off insomnia and increase energy and brain function. If you’re new to meditation, a great place to start is with a body scan. Here’s what to do:
- Lie down on your back (Preferably on the floor so you don’t fall asleep!) with your arms down by your sides.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep, slow breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Bring your attention to the very top of your head, notice any sensation, including pressure, temperature, or tingling.
- You don’t have to do anything about any sensation you notice except acknowledge it and keep breathing slowly.
- Move your attention down your body. For example, focus on your forehead, your eyes and ears, your mouth, and then your neck. Continue down your body until you land on your toes.
- Each time your attention wanders (Don’t worry, it happens to all of us!), bring it back to the last body part you remember focusing on.
The great thing about mindfulness meditation is that it doesn’t have to be done at any specific time of day. Just sit down for 10 minutes or so and you can know you’ll be getting some energy-supporting benefits.
Our body is over 50% water and since we are constantly losing water through sweating, breathing, and urinating, it requires a lot of fluids to function optimally. If you’re not replenishing those fluids, it can leave you dehydrated and feeling fatigued and weak. In fact, even mild dehydration can interfere with your concentration and productivity. The good news is that all you have to do to stay hydrated is drink plenty of water. Aim for at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. You can also support proper hydration by eating water-rich fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, melons, and strawberries, which are all over 90% water.
The next time your energy levels are less than optimal, leaning on one of these five tips. They’ll give you the bust of energy you need, with zero sugar crashes.
There’s a ton of misinformation about caffeine, so we wanted to give you the facts and debunk 5 of the most common myths about this natural compound, which is actually a great way to boost energy and productivity today.