We all sometimes wish that there could be more hours in the day to accomplish all the things we need and want. Unfortunately, since we can't do that, many often turn to stimulants like coffee and energy drinks for an instant boost of stamina to get us through the busy day.
While I'm not necessarily saying that coffee is bad for you (it has antioxidants which, when consumed in moderation, can actually have some beneficial effects on health), turning instead to more natural and balancing ways to enhance your energy will contribute to your overall state of health.
Consider for a moment the unwelcome chore of house-cleaning as an analogy to maintaining energy. Some people choose to do a little bit every day and keep their home consistently neat, while others delay the task of cleaning until it has become an insurmountable necessity and they must spend an entire afternoon miserably scrubbing at nasty, stubborn build-up. Similarly, maintaining natural energy-promoting practices for self-care on a regular basis can greatly improve hormonal balance, reduce stress, lead to stable mood and greater happiness, and decrease the likelihood of reaching a state of being ‘burned out’ or chronically fatigued.
Here are 5 natural ways to increase your energy:
1. Get enough sleep. Adequate sleep on a regular basis is scientifically proven to support a healthy immune system, contribute to mental clarity, and help you sustain energy throughout the day. Note that 8 hours seems to be the slumber length sweet spot, with too much leading to grogginess and feeling tired, and not enough leading to stress, poor health, and impaired cognitive ability. You might think that going to sleep early would decrease your productivity, but instead it recharges your battery so that you're refreshed and more energetic and productive during your waking hours. Totally worth it!
2. Eat real food. Eating fresh, wholesome food that is full of the nutrients your body needs doesn't just support physical health, it helps you feel good about life in general and keeps your energy level high. Why? Because it's ALIVE! Food that was recently growing in the ground still contains living enzymes that help break it down in your stomach. That means you don’t waste precious energy on digestion, and have more of it available for all the other awesome things you want to accomplish. On the other hand, eating food that has undergone significant processing and alteration with synthetic ingredints slows down your digestion, contributes to weight gain, and makes you feel sluggish, tired, and cranky.
3. Exercise regularly. Maintaining a fitness regime of physical activity 3-4 times a week (a long walk counts!) will keep your body full of happy energy-boosting endorphins and can even help fight fatigue in people who are chronically tired. Regular exercise will also help you sleep better, boost your mood, support a healthy brain and heart, and tone you all over. Physical activity that gets your heart rate up and the blood flowing is best for increasing overall energy, so go for a run, ride a bike, do some zumba, or sign up for aerobic classes at the gym.
4. Prioritize. Sure you want to excel at your job, be a model parent, take care of your mom, keep a perfect home, have a social life, and keep up with the news, but do you really need to do all those things all the time? No! Take a break, let it go, make time for yourself instead. Oftentimes, we sacrifice our own needs for the sake of others, without them necessarily putting any pressure on us to do so, due to perceived necessity. And even if the pressure is real, you’ll be surprised at how often it’s totally ok to procrastinate on certain things for the sake of self-preservation. Eliminate the non-essentials and you’ll find yourself with more energy to focus on the things that really matter.5. Relax. It might be counterintuitive that one of the tips to increase your energy is to slow down but man does this work! If you just make a little time every day to do an activity that you enjoy, such as reading book, taking a bath, or working on your hobby, you can revitalize yourself immeasurably and discover that you become more efficient at your other tasks. For example when I’m stressed and exhausted, it might take me 3 hours to write a good article or blog post, but when I do something relaxing first for 30 minutes, it’ll take me about an hour to accomplish the same thing! So that’s 1.5 hours with relaxation vs. 3 hours of stress on top of stress. You do the math :)
Did you know that what you eat not only directly impacts your long-term health but can also lead to annoying little symptoms like fatigue, headaches, digestive distress, acne, sinus congestion, and difficulty losing weight?
Sadly, these symptoms have come to be accepted as just part of living because so many people experience them. But you don’t have to live with it! You have the power to take your health into your own hands, look and feel great, have energy, and be happy. No matter your age, or current physical condition, all it takes is a few simple dietary and lifestyle adjustments to improve your sense of well-being.
Here are my top 5 recommendations to help you look and feel your best:
1.Drink water. This may sound like an obvious fundamental but do you really drink enough? Your body is 50-75% water and requires a constant fresh supply in order to carry out all major bodily functions, including delivering nutrients to your cells and removing waste (the buildup of which can lead to discomfort and disease). So be sure to drink lots of water, especially in the summer when you lose more water through sweat. I recommend starting each day with a tall glass of water first thing in the morning, then drinking more throughout the entire day.
2.Avoid white flour and sugar. Things like white bread, pasta, baked goods, and sweets, including soda, might taste pretty good, but they wreak havoc on your long-term health. They contribute to insulin resistance, raise your LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol, and since they contain little or no vitamins, fiber, or enzymes, they are more difficult to digest with little payoff for the body beyond instant energy. This can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, inflammation, fatigue, digestive discomfort like gas and bloating, and many other ailments. Simply avoiding these foods could be a major step towards greater health if your current includes them on a daily basis.
3.Eat fresh vegetables. They are essentially what your body is meant to be eating for the nutrients needed to stay healthy and strong. If you tend to avoid them, or relegate them as mere side dishes once a day, make a real effort to eat vegetables with every meal. Summer is a great time to eat them mostly raw because they can help cool you down and can easily be found fresh and locally grown. Buy organic whenever you can because those are grown in cleaner soil and have minimal pesticide residue, as well as tasting better and having higher nutritional content.
4.Stay active. Regular exercise helps improve circulation, detoxify your organs, boost your immune system, and keep your mind and body clear and energized. This doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym or start jogging if those fitness activities don’t appeal to you. Just do whatever you enjoy that involves movement on a daily basis, even if it’s just taking long, brisk walks around the neighborhood or dancing to music in your living room!
5.Sleep. Your body does a lot of repair while you sleep and not getting enough shut-eye for prolonged periods of time can lead to impaired cognition, stress, and reduced immune function, making you more susceptible to infection and disease. Aim for 8 hours every night for maximum health and energy during the day.
As a Holistic Health Counselor, I work with clients in making dietary and lifestyle adjustments to help them reach their wellness goals and achieve lasting health and happiness. If you can consistently follow the 5 recommendations above, you’re on your way to feeling great, looking great, and having the energy needed to pursue all your life’s passions with ease.