At one time or another, all of us can use a boost in our energy level. Because we are creatures of habit and function on bio-rhythms, getting into a daily routine of practicing certain habits will keep us going day-in and day-out.
The human body likes familiarity and functions best when it knows what should happen at a particular time of day. For example, getting up and going to bed around the same time each night (including weekends), or eating meals about the same time each day. And speaking of eating, keep the portions around the same size.
In particular, focus on these six habits as part of your daily routine…
1) Keep hydrated
To function properly, your body needs a certain amount of water each day – yes water – good ol’ H2O and not sugar-laden energy drinks, fruit juice or something with caffeine in it. Even mild dehydration can bring on moodiness, fatigue, headaches and problems trying to focus and concentrate. Drinking an adequate amount of water each day also gives your body one of the elements it needs to boost your metabolism. Without enough water, your blood thickens up and doesn’t flow as easily. This means not as much oxygen and nutrients are getting to your cells as it should which where it is needed to make energy. And that is not all. Your heart has to work harder to pump the thicker blood all around your body, which puts an additional strain on it.
Some people turn to coffee to get the caffeine kick they think they need to boost their energy level. And while caffeine will boost your energy level temporarily, it is also a diuretic meaning it pulls water out of your body … at the rate of 1 ½ cups of urine for each cup of coffee. So while you get the “kick” you need from your coffee for a short period of time, it can be at the sacrifice of hydration, unless you counteract it with enough water. As a starting point, strive to drink around eight 8-ounces glasses of fluid (preferably water) each day; more if you are sweating a lot working out in a hot, humid environment.
2) Get adequate sleep
In our hectic lives of today, some people cut time off of their sleep cycle to squeeze a little more productivity out of their day. Actually, just the opposite happens – they are less productive rather than getting more done. Yes, they have more time to work, but their efficiency level is lower so they end up getting less done.
When you are asleep, your body (including your mind) is regenerating itself. However, if you are not getting enough sleep, you face the next day with a sleep deficit, tired and end up running out of energy before day’s end. If this sounds like you, add in more quality sleep time to your night.
Another way to get enough sleep is to go to bed and get up at around the same time each day – even on the weekends. Because our body likes to operate according to bio-rhythms, it functions best when those rhythms keep to about the same time each day. You may have to experiment as far as what time retiring, getting up and sleep environment works best for you, but once you find it, stick to it to have more energy throughout the day.
If your energy levels start to wain around lunchtime, take a meditation break or nap of 20 to 30 minutes if you can. Sometimes that is all that you need to revive you so you can have a productive afternoon. Just be sure to leave enough time to eat a healthy lunch so that your metabolism has something to work with in the afternoon or that can lead to a decrease in energy by not eating lunch.
Most people think exercising makes them more tired, but actually the opposite is true – exercising creates more energy. Why? When you put an unusual demand on your body, such as exercising, your metabolism kicks into high gear trying to make enough glycogen in your cells to replace the amount your muscles and bodily systems are consuming. However, this increase in metabolism does not instantly stop when you stop exercising. It continues as a higher level than normal for several hours afterward, known as an “afterburn”.
Plus when exercising, certain hormones are released that leave you with a euphoric feeling known as “runner’s high”. This increase in mood is usually associated with an increase in energy. That is why a brisk walk during your lunch break can be so beneficial for boosting your energy levels for the afternoon.
But don’t skip eating lunch. Leave just enough time at the end of you break to eat your healthy brown bag lunch you brought from home. Exercise, a good lunch, and you are set energy-wise for the rest of the workday!
4) Eat right
If you don’t eat the right nutrition or at the right times, your energy levels will suffer. Grabbing a hamburger and fries at the drive through is not proper nutrition!
It is well known that energy comes from eating carbs. However to have lasting energy, it must be the correct type of carbs. Simple carbs, like sugar in a soda will provide a quick boost in energy as it digests quickly, but once it is gone, the blood sugar crash comes and you end up being hungrier and more fatigued than before.
So, a better plan is to consume complex carbs. Things like eggs, nuts, yogurt, avocados, lean meats and vegetables digest more slowly and even out your blood sugar so you have a longer sustained level of energy. Bottom line, carbs aren’t bad because fruits and vegetables are carbs, but they are high in fiber and other nutrients. Strive to eat the healthier carb!
Eat when you’re hungry, not when the clock tells you to eat. This may mean that you eat two meals a day, fine. As long as those meals are nutritious, you’re golden.
Another part of eating right is to get enough vitamins and minerals – especially the B complex. Vitamin B, and in particular B12, helps your body create energy from food, so even though you are eating enough food, if it does not contain enough of the B complex, you may not be getting enough energy from your food.
Eating a balanced diet should provide your daily requirement, however if it does not, supplement the B complex with a multi-vitamin.
5) Reduce stress
Most of us are under an immense amount of stress as we go through our daily lives. Some stress is good; as a matter of fact, we need some stress in our life to be healthy, but an overabundance has the opposite effect – both mentally and physically. When under a lot of stress, your body reacts by kicking in the “flight or fight” response which releases an overabundance of the natural steroidal hormone cortisol into our bloodstream.
This does a couple of things: If excessive levels of cortisol are in your blood over long-term, it can lead to increased blood sugar levels which can lead to Type 2 diabetes. This results in insulin resistance meaning even though the sugar is there, it doesn’t get to the cells for energy. The result is weight gain because your body has no other way to use up the excessive sugar except to store it as fat.
Second, constant stress, especially when coupled with a poor diet, eventually leads to chronic inflammation. Over time, this overtaxing of the body suppresses your over-worked immune system leaving you open for colds, the flu and a host of other illnesses that your body would normally handle if it was not compromised.
5) Do something meaningful
As odd as it may sound, doing something that matters to you will boost your energy level. If you slog through the day only to come home exhausted, it could be you feel as though you are not making a significant difference anymore; you are merely working for a paycheck, without getting any real satisfaction in return. But having a positive attitude toward what you do boosts your energy level.
If you are one that can’t wait to get out of bed and to work (even after a number of years at the same job), you are still feeling satisfied that what you do is meaningful. On the contrary if you dread having to get up and go to work, your energy level will tank and it will be an effort just to get through the day; maybe it is time to look for a job change.
It all depends on your outlook and the value perceived you get from what you do. If you look forward to doing something, and are getting the satisfaction you need from doing that work, then you will never tire of it.
So just by practicing the daily habits of:
- Keeping hydrated
- Getting adequate sleep
- Eating right
- Reducing stress
- Do something meaningful
…you can boost energy levels that will carry you through the day regardless of what it brings and have energy left over at the end of the day. It all starts with establishing a daily routine of time-tested healthy lifestyle habits.