9 Ways to Keep Energy Levels Soaring
One of the biggest challenges I've been faced with lately is managing my energy levels throughout the day (as well as throughout the week) so that I don't burn myself out. This is particularly tricky as a fitness professional who teaches classes, conducts one-on-one training sessions, and also often has castings and photoshoots, frequently all in one day. I'm also no Spring Chicken anymore...more like an (early) Summer Chicken, and I just don't have the boundless energy I had when I was 22. I'm still trying to figure out the right combination of both preventative measures I can take, as well as things I can do when I feel the symptoms of fatigue coming on, and because I constantly hear complaints of "being tired" or "worn out" from those around me, I wanted to jot down a list of the things I've found to be effective in managing energy levels.
1) Get enough sleep. This is so obvious. We hear it all the time. We know it to be true, yet most of us are still falling short of the recommended eight hours of sleep per night. This is an area I really try to make sure I'm hitting the mark in. My schedule can be very unpredictable, though, and as a result I sometimes find myself wide awake watching Bloodline on Netflix at midnight when I know I've got to be up at 6:45 the next morning. So, I confess that I could do better in this area.
2) Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Another one that we hear incessantly, but it bears repeating. Being even slightly dehydrated can make you feel tired. I always carry a water bottle with me, and if I need an extra boost, I'll drink some pure coconut water. Coconut water contains potassium which provides a boost of energy if you're going to be engaging in any sort of physical activity. (The same effect can be achieved by drinking water and eating a banana).
3) Maintain a regular exercise routine. You may already know this one as well, but to reiterate the energy benefits associated with working out regularly: exercise helps you sleep better at night (refer back to item 1 of this list), stimulates blood flow (which makes you feel more alert), and helps stave off anxiety and depression, disorders which frequently cause one to feel tired and worn down.
4) Limit (or eliminate) sugar. I have a major sweet tooth, I admit it. However, I've gotten waaaay better at limiting my refined sugar intake over the years. A couple of tricks that have worked for me: steer clear of all unnecessary sugars (sugary cereals, added sugars in energy bars, soda- duh, and foods with sweet sauces). These unnecessary sugars are often the easiest for people to put down as there are plenty of "replacement foods" you can have instead (such as fruit, non-sugary cereal, Quest Bars (which have no sugar) in lieu of something like a Clif Bar (which usually have around 26g of sugar!), and seltzer or unsweetened tea instead of regular soda. I still haven't found an adequate replacement for ice cream, however, so I enjoy this in it's full form, but on way fewer occasions than I used to!
5) Go for a walk. If you're like most humans, you probably start to feel tired around 4pm every day. I know I do. Rather than reaching for a caffeinated drink or a sugary treat, try going for a ten minute speed walk. This gets the blood flowing will help ease you through the end of the work day.
6) Do 100 jumping jacks. I often do this one first thing in the morning. Though it may sound a bit intense, it's a wonderful way to wake up the body and the mind, and takes about two minutes. I turn on the coffee pot and then without thinking, just starting jumping. I hate feeling that crappy morning grogginess, and this is a quick and easy way for me to get myself out of it. This also works at other times during the day, for the same reasons going for a walk works.
7) Eat enough protein. This could be combined with number 4, but it's so important that I gave it it's own bullet point. Not getting enough protein can lead to feelings of fatigue throughout the day. Protein takes longer to break down in the body than carbohydrates, which provides the body with steady energy. It also helps repair and maintain healthy muscle tissue.
8) Laugh. Listen to a funny podcast, read The Onion, or joke around with your friends or colleagues. Laughing produces dopamine in the brain which elevates mood and helps us feel energized.
9) Take a 20 minute power nap. I never, until this year, understood the power of naps. In fact, I hated naps. But sometimes they can be a saving grace. Just make sure you keep them to 20 minutes. Any longer, and you are likely to feel cranky and even more tired afterwards.
So there you go: a combination of preventative things you can do as well as some fatigue-symptom treating tips. There are loads of others, but this is a good starter list.
What are some things you've found to be helpful in staying alert throughout the day?