Exhausted. Tired. Drained. Weary.
You know these feelings well. Heck, you’ve probably felt this way at any given point during the day already.
Energy deficiency seems to be a part of everyday life; when someone at work says, “I’m tired. I wanna go home,” the usual reaction is a sympathetic nod or agreement before turning back towards work.
It’s remarkably widespread, which isn’t all that surprising in this day and age.
According to a survey conducted by the National Safety Council, 97% of Americans have one or more leading risk factors for fatigue; these include working night/early morning shifts, working without breaks, and working 50+ hours a week.
As if that isn’t bad enough, many people have families to take care of or other obligations that are just as energy consuming.
Not even teens/young adults are safe. They are the driving force of social media, which has direct links to fatigue.
Constant online socialization impacts their sense of self and can make them anxious (leading to lower quality sleep), texting late at night has obvious drawbacks (blue light emitted from phone promotes wakefulness), and overexposure to online content can be overwhelming (which also contributes to fatigue).
It’s no wonder why people often turn to caffeine as a quick way to artificially boost energy levels. And while its effects may be rather instantaneous, the drawbacks of caffeine consumption make it a not-so-good choice for overall increases in energy:
- Addictive properties with diminishing returns (less effect = higher consumption needed to match initial boost)
- Can induces insomnia if consumed in the evening
- Causes headaches/migraines from over consumption and withdrawl
- Can increase anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and agitation
The director of The Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, Dr. Chidi Ngwaba, goes on to further explain the tiredness that slams you a few hours after a cup of coffee; this is due to the fact that our brain chemistry doesn’t like chemical stimulants, so it releases its own chemicals that kill the alert response provided by caffeine.
So, what about some other options on how to boost energy levels? How can we leverage our habits and decisions into making energy gains?
I’m not a “complex” kind of guy. I like simple things, so I use these simple methods to naturally generate all the energy that I need. I’ll show you what I do with these 5 ridiculously simple methods that you wish you were already doing.
1. Move Your Body – Yes, Even When You are Tired!
Now, I don’t mean you should go for a marathon run or start your day by lifting tons of weights. Heavy exercise, while it can boost energy, will often have you feeling sore and tired as your body rebuilds its torn muscles. The exercise itself should be light to moderate for maximum effect.
Robert Thayer, PhD at California State University, conducted exericse experiments as it relates to boosting energy; a brisk 10-minute walk not only boosted participants’ energy, but also extended the effects for up to two hours. Overall energy levels and mood were lifted after three weeks of walking, results described.
Yes, even merely walking can have a significant boost to your energy levels. Cardio tends to be the go-to choice for making energy gains since it usually does not require the body to make repairs that more strength-intensive exercise demands.
A walk around the neighborhood before or after work is a good idea, though I prefer to get my energy boosting cardio through more entertaining means.
After all, you gotta enjoy the exercise that you do, otherwise you won’t want to keep doing it.
2. Give Your Body the Sleep it Needs – Read the Signs!
If there’s one thing that the human body is good at doing, its communicating what it wants and needs from you. For example, you’ll tend to seek out foods that have vitamins or nutrients that you lack, probably completely unaware that you are doing so.
Getting consistent, quality sleep is another method of boosting energy, though it’s definitely the method that gets ignored the most.
People have a tendency to try to “catch up on sleep”, as if sleep is a quota that needs to be filled by the end of the week. Unfortunately, this is not how sleep works at all.
Trying to catch up on a long-term lack of quality sleep by sleeping more can disrupt your sleep patterns, making you feel even more tired.
Another consequence is that it becomes more difficult to fall asleep later, since the body needs time to re-adjust to the new sleep schedule it thinks you are aiming for.
Naps can help for when you need a quick refresher, but they should be used carefully. Extended naps can interfere with bedtime hours and make it harder to get to sleep.
Now, we tend to champion that 7.5-8 hours of sleep is the golden ticket to feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, though this is hardly the case. Some people need more than 8 hours and others need less than 7 hours.
The amount of sleep required for each person to feel and be energized is different, making it a good idea to spend a few nights discovering what your optimal sleep hours are. It’s important to monitor yourself and find out how many hours you need; you boost your energy levels exponentially with proper sleep!
*Note that waking up also plays a role in getting a quality sleep experience. You don’t want to train your body to react negatively to a glaringly loud alarm every morning. Try using sleep alarms that utilize a soft melody or jingle that gradually grows in volume.
Getting sunlight in the morning is also a natural way to gently wake the body up.
3. Use a Healthier Alternative to Caffeine!
Caffeine, as a source of getting energy, doesn’t work all that well in the long term as we now know. While small doses can be beneficial, its often consumed in large doses on a daily basis, leading to health issues.
Yet, many people continue to use caffeine as their primary pick-me-up partly due to its ease of access; Starbucks is usually found within a 5-minute drive of other Starbucks stores! Coffee and caffeinated drinks only continue to grow in popularity, shadowing the healthier alternatives that are available.
I’ve never liked the taste of coffee, and caffeinated drinks tend to drop my energy levels to points to exhaustion only a couple of hours after consumption.
When I need a pick me up, energy to go workout, or energy to work on other projects, I prefer to use nootropics.
Nootropics, for those of you who don’t know, are synthetic compounds that improve cognitive functions. Simply put, they are designed to better your brain chemistry and help improve your day-to-day experience.
There are many types of nootropics out there, but I like to use one called Lion’s Mane.
Lion’s Mane uses mushrooms in a powdered capsule form to promote ATP production in cells, which is an effect way on how to boost energy levels. The best part is that the increase is promoted naturally (without any stimulants), so it lacks the negative effects commonly seen with other stimulants.
It can be consumed with food, a beverage, or on its own, given the flexibility it has as a powdered capsule. Its effects also last longer than caffeine’s quick jolt.
The effects of Lion’s Mane are fast acting and stay for the whole day, making it ideal for consumption when time is short. This nootropic has great success when combined with exercise; this is because exercise gets the blood flowing, allowing for the nootropic to work through the body faster.
It also has a great price value. A standard jar of Lion’s Mane has an effective price of $0.72/day as opposed to a tall Starbucks coffee at $3.43/day, assuming you just get one per day (which most people don’t).
On an annual basis, you’d be paying about $1000 more to drink Starbucks coffee than to take Lion’s Mane.
It’s for all these reasons that I choose nootropics. Playing DDR definitely requires boatloads of energy, so I’m fortunate to have stumbled upon something that works well. I haven’t regretted my choice ever since!
Grab a bottle here if you want to stop relying on caffeine and treat your body right.
4. Balance Your Food Intake – How You Eat Matters a Ton!
Raise your hand if you’ve done this: Skip breakfast because of some reason (nothing to eat, running late, etc.), eat a big lunch to compensate, then have a normal/big dinner in the evening. You’ve probably raised your hand. If not, that means you are taking care of your food intake (yay!) or are taking less care of your food intake (yikes!).
For those of you who raised your hand, allow me to explain why this eating schedule DESTROYS energy levels.
When you skip breakfast, you skip out on the calories needed to start your day off right. As a result, your body doesn’t have the fuel it needs to optimize and sustain energy production.
Within an hour or two, your brain and body are going to slow down as thoughts of eating become pervasive; you are far more likely to consume something unhealthy when you are really hungry, by the way.
Lunch comes and you down a big meal, satisfying earlier cravings. But then you are extremely tired! This is because, funnily enough, the stomach needs energy to break down that meal that you just had before it can extract the nutrients needed to boost energy levels.
After battling sleepiness for an hour or two, you head home to have some dinner. You’ve just had a long day, so you decide to eat dinner and go to sleep. Makes sense to do so if eating is going to make you sleepy, right?
Well, not exactly.
When you eat, your blood sugar levels will briefly rise. Since the state of sleep is one of relaxation and restoration, the body doesn’t want to be active during sleep time; this includes digestive activity.
The body will react by crashing in blood sugar levels, alerting the body to the emergency and triggering the release of a stress hormone called cortisol.
Part of cortisol’s effect is that it inflames the body and weakens digestive function, as well as diminishes production of a sleep-hormone called melatonin.
Over time, repeated instances of this will exhaust the body and make it more difficult to produce the hormones needed to sleep, leading to an overall lower quality of rest and, in prolonged cases, insomnia. Which, of course, leads to lower energy levels.
So, now we know about the dangers of THAT eating schedule. When boosting energy levels, eating lighter, more frequent meals is proven to provide an abundance of energy.
The body won’t have to work as hard to digest meals and will be able to get that energy to you quicker, not to mention that your metabolism will improve in efficiency as well.
I used to follow that awful eating schedule too at one point. It wore on me to feel bloated after lunch, exhausted after a work, and tired after I woke up the next morning. Eventually, I just accepted it for what it was without understanding the magnitude of my decisions.
Now I strive to eat smaller meals in shorter intervals and have noticed the difference! I feel lighter and ready to accomplish the tasks that I set out for myself each day! I definitely recommend setting out a meal plan for the week.
Even if you fall short of your expectations, try to grab an apple or banana in the morning before setting off to do your stuff.
You’ll notice the difference immediately!
5. Lighten Your Mental Workload – Cast Off Unnecessary Stress!
The brain ties the body; it cannot function without it. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the things that influence your thoughts will directly effect your body. It’s totally possible to deprive yourself of energy from being too stressed or having too many things on the mind.
Stress can wind people up, make us feel as though we are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders. It can be suffocating, restricting and worst of all, lasting.
Surveys by the American Psychological Association show American adults report sleeping an average of 6.7 hours a night. 42% of adults describe that their sleep quality is poor or fair and 43% percent state that stress has caused them to lie awake at night.
Without sleep, energy production will suffer; that’s a given at this point. But as stated before, piling on mental work will have an adverse effect on energy levels even while awake.
Remember cortisol? Stress will trigger a release of this hormone along with another hormone – adrenaline. Both of these hormones will cause problems when activated over long periods of time, leading to:
- Memory and concentration impairment
- Heart problems
- Weight gain
As you can see, stress and mental overload has serious consequences on the body. All of these negative repercussions also drain energy extremely quickly, leaving a person feeling fatigued in a short amount of time.
We, as human beings with biological needs, absolutely require breaks that are both physical and mental. Observe your own thoughts and develop ways to lessen the impact of stress.
If you like to schedule ever bit of your free time doing something, make sure to schedule some time to do something relaxing. If something is constantly worrying you, share your concerns with someone else to ease the burden.
Activities like yoga, cardio, and listening to music are all great stress busters if you prefer to unwind through physical means. Whenever I am stressed, I usually keep to myself and find ways to release it.
That way I don’t have to worry about the havoc I will wreak on my body later down the road. Heck, even one day of too much stress and my stomach gets upset!
DDR is great for me in that regard because I get to be physically active, distract myself from thinking by engaging my brain on another task, and listen to some catchy music.
Exer-gaming in general is a fun way to let the mind forget about troubling thoughts. Perfect for those who especially have issues “turning their brains off”, so to speak.
How you take care of yourself will determine how your body fares later in life. You’d be surprise by just how much your body will reward you for taking care of it.
*These tips are simple solutions to a big problem, but sometimes the issue lies within your body, such as your thyroid.
Always be sure to check with your doctor about excessive energy crashes, as that may be indicative of something more serious.
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