When was the last time you flew through the day with so much energy that you sprang out of bed without an alarm, didn’t touch a drop of caffeine and never felt like collapsing? Can’t remember? That’s what we thought, which is why we went to the experts to find out how to boost those batteries of yours.
Your energy naturally ebbs and flows during the day, thanks largely to your circadian rhythms. This is your body’s internal clock that regulates biological processes like body temperature, sleep-wake cycles and hormone release over a 24-hour period. As the day progresses, it’s normal to feel little dips in your energy.
Yet if you’re like most women, you live such a hectic life that you ignore those natural rhythms — and what your body needs. You sleep too little, eat the wrong foods, work too much, exercise too little (or too much), and everything gets so out of whack that you can’t help but feel exhausted.
The solution? Pull it all back into balance. “The more balanced your life, the more efficient — and less fatigued — you’ll be,” says Michael Finkelstein, MD, founder and medical director of SunRaven, a healthy living center in Bedford, New York. Here’s how to make it happen.
Get On — And Then Off — The Treadmill
Exercise not only helps you manage weight; it can also restock your energy tanks. Ironically, inactivity can actually increase fatigue.
Fortunately, you don’t have to run a marathon to get the boost. Yet how much exercise you should do and how strenuous that exercise should be to increase energy varies from one person to another, Finkelstein says. Pay attention to your energy during and after exercise; if you’re still feeling sapped, take it down a notch.
Even more importantly, exercise outside whenever possible. “Greenery like forest and space on a beach close to water produce negative ions, which lift the mood, increase our cells’ receptivity to oxygen and start a chain reaction that results in breathing deeper,” says Maryam Webster, MEd, San Francisco–based Energy Coach and director of the Energy Coach Institute. “The deeper you breathe, the more energy you’ll run through your body.” Even if you can’t get outdoors, simply seeing nature can energize you, so position indoor workout equipment near a window.
The more balanced your life the more efficient — and less fatigued — you'll be.
Then tune into those circadian rhythms and schedule workouts when you feel most energetic. Don’t know when that is? Ask yourself this question, Webster says: On your day off from work, when do you feel natural spurts of energy?
Your body also needs time to recover and rest. Webster recommends doing yoga, which can renew energy, and a simple exercise to help decrease stress and promote better sleep. Before slipping into slumber, find what’s called the Triple Warmer 2 point, which balances stress, between your little finger and ring finger bones on the back of either hand. This point is one of the meridians in the body through which energy circulates. When you’re feeling upset, exhausted or stressed, the triple warmer often goes out of whack. Yet by tapping that point, you send an energetic pulse through the rest of the system that says unplug from emergency status . The system then relaxes and normalizes itself. With the index finger of your opposite hand, tap this point gently for 30 seconds. Next, tap the crown of your head for 30 seconds. Tap the point again for 30 seconds. Inhale and as you exhale, release tension. Repeat the sequence on the opposite hand.
Log Off, Reconnect And Rest
It’s easy to blame fatigue on things like stress, lack of sleep, even medical issues. While those will certainly sap your energy, there are two other major energy zappers, Finkelstein says: Technology and unhealthy relationships.
Technology alone isn’t evil, but being plugged in 24/7 can wear you down. You don’t have to unplug completely, but do schedule a regular time-out, even just once a week. “By unplugging, you not only see how addicted you are, you can also relax,” Finkelstein says.
Next, create healthy relationships with people who feed you positive energy. “Energy is contagious,” Finkelstein says. “A peaceful or pleasant person produces a state of calm around them, which rubs off on you.” While you can use social media like Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch, make an effort to see friends at least once a week.
Fuel Up To Feel Great
Your body draws energy from the calories you eat. Yet women often slip up by eating the wrong foods, consuming too much or too little, or timing meals incorrectly. The solution? “Go back to basics,” says Maye Musk, MS, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City.
First, make breakfast a priority. “People who skip breakfast concentrate less and are less alert than those who eat breakfast,” Musk says. Even if you’re on the go, grab a banana, yogurt drink or fruit and nut bar.
Try not to let six hours pass between meals — so grab a snack between meals if necessary. To account for the extra calories, trim meals slightly. By eating every few hours, you’ll keep energy levels high.
Also, nosh protein with each meal. “Not only does protein fill you up, it also stimulates a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you feel more alert,” Musk says. To avoid feeling sluggish, eat iron-rich foods every day.
And finally, minimize alcohol intake, as it can disrupt sleep when consumed at night. Instead, chug that water, as dehydration can increase fatigue.