Healthy Living

Seven Easy Ways to Boost Your Energy

By Sheryl Kraft

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I'm doing too much. You probably are too.

I know I have to slow down. You most likely know the same thing about yourself.

The proof was last week, when I came down with a case of all sorts of pesky annoyances – a major headache that refused to quit, stomach cramps and nausea, fatigue and general malaise so powerful that it sidelined me for much of the week. 

And that's not like me. I usually try to deny that I'm feeling bad; instead opting to do something stupid like go to the gym (I did, and later regretted it) or carry on with my usual schedule (I tried but gave up when I was totally unproductive and uninspired). So, instead, I spent two days dragging myself around the house, indulging in much-needed afternoon naps.

And now that it's a new week – and hopefully whatever was inhabiting my body got tired of me and retreated – I realize it's time to zone in on ways to get my energy back, and keep it up.

What to do when you're dragging and crave nothing but some energy?

Eat. It's incredible how much my body reacts to food. By about 3:00 yesterday I was absolutely, pathetically dragging myself around, silently bemoaning the fact that I STILL needed a mid-day nap, asking myself why I felt so damned awful. And then it hit me. I hadn’t had any protein all day. Zero. An english muffin and fruit for breakfast…and no lunch, since I rushed off to do some errands with my husband.  After some Greek yogurt – which happens to have a whopping 13 grams of protein - I felt like all was right with the world. I perked up like a wilted flower after being watered. Really, that's what I felt like. It was the proverbial you-need-to-put-gas-in-the-tank moment.

Other good things to eat for energy: Complex carbs and protein, like a whole grain cracker with low-fat cheese or a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread.

This matters> Don't skip meals (especially breakfast). And go for the high-fiber, high-carb kinds. When researchers studied the effects of two carbohydrate-rich breakfasts, they found that people who started their days with high-fiber and high-carbs had the highest level of alertness between breakfast and lunch. to get the recipe for a yummy high-fiber bread I make at home.

Eat a frog. I love this expression. It's from a book about procrastination called - you guessed it - Eat That Frog! It's based on the premise that if you tackle the most challenging task of the day (like eating a live frog), you can get things done more effectively.

This matters> Think about it: those bills that are sitting piled up on your desk? You know, the ones you keep eyeing with dread?  Getting that pile out of the way gives you the feeling of triumph and power to move on.

Take a break. I think that's what water coolers are for. But since I don't work in an office with a water cooler and can't do the water-cooler-chatter, I try to remind myself - no matter how engaged I am in a project – to take a walk to the kitchen and pour myself a big glass of water, and take 5 or 10 minutes to scan the newspaper. Which leads me to my next point:

Drink more water. If you're dehydrated (which, a lot of times, you might not even realize), you can feel incredibly tired and kinda cranky. Try filling up a few 8-ounce containers and keeping them next to you while you work so you remember to drink.

This matters> Taking short breaks throughout the day can help fight fatigue and make your more productive and energized. Even a quick ten-minute walk outside or a break to sit and read goes a long way.

Move your body. Some intense stretches, a short walk, running in place – whatever it takes. I promise you that you'll feel reinvigorated and much, much less tense. It really works. After listening to speak about stretching, I've gotten into the habit of incorporating some quasi-sun salutations (I really do need to get back to yoga!) into my day - it's startling how energizing and refreshing it feels.

This matters> You might feel too tired to even attempt to move.  What to do? Push yourself if you can. As soon as you begin, you'll feel infused with energy you didn't know you had. I promise.

Eliminate clutter. It's amazing how clutter zaps energy and takes over your life. Trust me, I know this firsthand. When things are a mess, my mind is a mess and my body soon follows suit. I don't know if it's because just seeing it reminds me of how much I need to do to get it the way I want it, but when my office is neat and organized, it infuses me with much-needed energy. It just feels calmer. And calm translates to energy.

Know your body clock. You might be more energetic in the morning, so if you are, why not take advantage of all that stored up power and do the things that demand the most energy? Then you can save the low part of your day for easier projects. – or that 10-minute walk or stretch.

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Comments

Thanks for these suggestions. I always forget the drink-the-water one. Also, I tend to eat too fast. Not only should you not skip a meal, WHILE you are having that meal you should chew each mouthful really well. Someone told me 100 times, but that's kind of crazy. Still, I know I gobble up my food to get back to whatever I was doing, and this is not ideal by any means.

Alexandra,

Yes, chewing slow is really important. In fact, I wrote about just that in an earlier post --

These are fantastic and easy to do tips, Sheryl. I live in dry, high altitude climate and one way I've found to stay hydrated is to fill up a pitcher of water every morning. Once I sit down at my desk, my goal is to finish the pitcher before I've finished work for the day. The same trick worked well when I worked away from home, too.

Your "eat a frog" tip is the new thing I'm going to try. Love the phrase--and what it can mean for increasing energy.

Good luck with eating your frog, Jessaka. Hope it goes down easy!

For me, sometimes it really is a matter of listening to my body and giving it the rest it needs. It's also a matter of eating HEALTHFULLY. I have a lot more energy when I'm super dosing the fruits and veggies and forgoing the wine and sugar. Whenever I have wine and dessert at night, I even tell myself, "I'm going to be tired tomorrow. That's what I'm choosing right now. Is it worth it?" Sometimes IT SO IS. But most of the time, it's not.

I totally agree, Alisa. The dessert and wine thing - it's so tempting and good, but the next day, well, not so good.

Hi! I found you through Alisa Bowman on Twitter. You are SO right, especially about the eating part. It sounds so obvious & simple, but there are so many days I'm rushing around w/ my 2 small kids that I don't take the time to eat right. I'm on the all-coffee diet some days. And then I wonder why I have no energy to get stuff done during their naptime. Duh. I LOVE Greek yogurt, too! It's my new go-to snack.

I try to explain to my husband all the time how clutter saps my energy, but he just doesn't get it. :(

Hi, Abby - Thanks for tuning in. I remember when my kids were small and I used to forget to eat. And then, like you, I was absolutely depleted of energy and not knowing why.
Glad at least you found some good source of protein in Greek yogurt - it's quick and easy.

Thanks for these excellent tips. I need to do more stretching I think. And eat more protein.

I'm with you on the clutter--when I'm surrounded by little piles I just feel out of sorts. Of course, I cleaned up all my piles today and then my kids got home from school and all new piles appeared:)

I didn't realize that Greek yogurt was so high in protein. I'll have to give it a try.

Clutter is so hard to control...it's like shoveling while it's still snowing. Sigh...

They all seem like such logical easy things to do...that we all FORGET..thanks for the reminders. My personal favorite?...Just EAT!..love that one. And I love that greek yogurt.

Too many people are afraid to eat, thinking they will gain weight - but not eating makes you so sluggish. It's all about eating the RIGHT things for energy.

sheryl,
I was thinking I'm doing fine with these -- and I am-- until I got to the one about clutter. thanks for helping me focus on what I need to work on.

Wow -- great advice, Sheryl. It's a week I *especially* needed to hear what you had to say.

Such a timely post for moi, Sheryl. I'm going to follow all of this advice, for today at least.

One day at a time, as the saying goes...good luck and let us know how it all turns out!

Great tips, Sheryl! I know when I get too busy to eat, I get really sluggish and cranky (what my boyfriend and I call "hangry"). Ditto on not working out or feeling like my space is too cluttered. Once I take care of myself, I'm much better equipped to take care of work.

That's why, I think, it's so important to take care of ourselves. When we don't feel good, everything else suffers.

Such simple, doable things. Great reminders. Thank you. It helps to read these things over and over. I like how you present them - easy to digest!

So many good tips here. I don't know which to try first. De-cluttering and eating that frog seem to up my energy. I'm going to try the rest of the suggestions too.

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