When fatigue hits during the day, many people will reach for a sugary snack or a caffeinated beverage. While these practices may lead to a quick, short burst of energy, the crash afterwards can leave one feeling even more tired. Let’s look at healthier methods to improve energy levels.
1) EAT BREAKFAST: Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast have less fatigue and stress than those who skip it. Avoid white flour/sugary options, like donuts. Instead try fruit and fiber-rich foods, like oatmeal, which help maintain satiety longer.
2) EXERCISE: A simple 5- to 10-minute walk or any quick bout of exercise can increase blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive function.
3) SING/TALK: Singing opens specific brain pathways that can both elevate emotions and reduce stress hormone levels. Try it while driving or anytime you feel those eyelids dropping, but perhaps NOT at an office meeting! Like singing, talking stimulates areas of the brain to make us more alert.
4) DRINK WATER: Feeling lethargic is a common symptom of dehydration. Consider drinking water throughout the day (such as eight 8-oz. glasses per day) as some experts have stated that by the time you feel thirsty, you may already be in a state of mild dehydration, which can also impair cognitive function and increase the risk for headache.
5) SUNSHINE: Spending time in the sun stimulates the production of energy-boosting vitamin D. A recent study showed that exposure to sunlight throughout the workday not only led to better sleep but also improved performance on cognitive tests.
6) SNACK: Try eating almonds and peanuts, which are high in magnesium and folic acid and essential for energy and cell production. Consuming protein and slow-burning carbs like bananas, peanut butter, or granola with fresh berries can also help maintain blood sugar levels. A scented spice, like cinnamon or peppermint, can also fight fatigue and make us more alert.
7) LAUGH: Listen to comedy or think of a recent funny experience and laugh out loud, if possible—it’s amazing how that stimulates certain centers in the brain to give you an energy boost.
8) GET MORE SLEEP: It seems obvious but sleeping less than seven hours a night is unhealthy and reduces the energy you have available during the day. Quality of sleep is important as well, so if you toss and turn or wake up a lot at night, consider a sleep study to assess for sleep apnea.