Do you struggle to stay awake at your desk at 2 pm? Do have the best intentions of doing fun activities after work but instead collapse in front of the TV for the rest of the night because you just have no energy left? You are not alone! Americans are tired – the US Department of Transportation estimates that 200,000 traffic accidents occur each year due to driver fatigue, and around 20% of Americans claim to have fatigue intense enough to interfere with their ability to have a normal life.
If you’re tired of being tired, here are ten strategies to help you get off the couch and get more energy!
- Exercise. Oh yes – you might think, “I’m too tired to exercise!” But did you know that regular exercise actually increases your cardiovascular and muscular strength and endurance, thereby give you more energy? Get outside for a brisk walk when it’s cooler outside, such as before work or after dinner. You can also walk around your workplace anytime you need to get more energy.
- Drink water. Water plays an important role in metabolism and the production of energy, and dehydration will make you feel tired. Drink a tall cool glass of water when you’re feeling blah – add a twist of lemon or a slice of cucumber for a refreshing lift.
- Try aromatherapy. Peppermint oil will PEP YOU UP! Dab a little on your wrists or just take a whiff of the bottle whenever you need a boost.
- Avoid large meals. Large, heavy meals will make you feel large and heavy and tired! Instead, eat small meals and snack in between! Yes, that’s right -snack! Going long periods of time without eating can make you feel tired and worn out. Eating a small meal or snack every 2 ½ to 3 hours or so will even out your energy levels and help you avoid those late afternoon slumps.
- Eat healthy snacks. Food gives you energy – the right foods, that is! For each snack, consider having a complex carbohydrate, such as a fruit or vegetable, along with a protein source, such as a small handful of nuts or some hummus. Good snack combos include an apple with almond butter or baby carrots with hummus. Avoid processed sugars and simple carbs like white bread, cakes, and muffins – they will wear you out! Most of all, AVOID CAFFEINE! Caffeine does NOT give you energy – it just stimulates your adrenal glands to release more adrenaline, a hormone the body uses for stressful situations. Overusing your adrenal glands can actually make you feel more tired over time, and who wants that?!
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast. Breakfast – get it? When you eat breakfast, you are literally “breaking a fast.” Most people have gone 12 hours or so without food by the time they are hitting the snooze button in the morning, so getting some food (aka ENERGY) into your body first thing when you wake up is essential. Consider having oatmeal with fresh blueberries and almonds, or a protein smoothie made with bananas, nut butter, and a milk (i.e. dairy, soy or almond). Avoid high-sugar cereals and fruit juices – while they may possibly be a great source of nutrients, the sugar will only cause you to feel tired later on.
- Get more sleep to get more energy. Ah, yes. Could this be about getting more energy without mentioning sleep? Figure out how much sleep you need to feel refreshed in the morning and make sure you go to bed at the right time. Can’t fall asleep at night? Try a warm lavender bath before going to bed, or read a relaxing novel. Regular exercise and avoiding large meals after 8pm can also help you sleep better at night.
- Try an herbal remedy. While diet, exercise, and sleep are probably your best bets for increasing your energy, you may want to try some tried-and-true herbal remedies, such as ashwaganda, an Ayurvedic herb prized for its ability to help the body deal with stress, or siberian ginseng, which contains active ingredients that often enhance mental activity and physical endurance. Cordyceps is a traditional Chinese medicinal mushroom that may help fight fatigue and boost energy levels.
- Breathe. Breathing has a direct relationship to energy expenditure. For example if our breathing rate speeds up (e.g., when sprinting to the finish line of a 100-yard dash) so does the amount of energy we use. Likewise, the slower the breathing the more energy we maintain. So to get more energy, try this: Sit comfortably with your back erect or lie down in on your back. Exhale through your mouth. Inhale through your mouth. Exhale through your nose. Inhale through your nose. Repeat this pattern while counting; inhale for 7, hold for 1, exhale for 7, hold for 1.
- Try yoga. Studies have shown that yoga can help reduce fatigue. And you can bust a yoga move just about anywhere! Try “chopping wood,” a great exercise to awaken your whole system and get things moving!
- Stand with legs about shoulder-width apart, knees bent slightly.
- Inhale through the mouth with your hands clasped, and raise your arms over your head as if you are holding a hatchet.
- Bend slightly at the knees. Exhale through the mouth, bending from the waist, allowing your arms to fall in a chopping motion. Bend as far as you can with comfort.
- Raise the upper body and continue this movement 12 times. Increase the flow of energy by making each exhalation audible.
- Return to a standing position and lower the arms. Feel the energy course through your body.
WARNING: make sure your no one is standing in front of you when you practice this move!
Finally, listen to your body! Your body is very, very smart, and if it is sending you “I’m tired” messages that probably means your body needs a break!
Chronic fatigue can be a sign of many things, including poor sleep habits, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, heart, or lung problems. If you suspect you are experiencing something more than just low energy levels, see a health professional who can help you determine the cause of your fatigue.