One of the best indicators that you’re having a great day is the feeling that your energy is high, steady, and that overall you feel good and can enjoy accomplishing the tasks at hand. Experts often call it “flow,” where tasks seem nearly effortless because you have clean burning mental and physical energy.
Maybe it’s that you bounced out of bed that morning, or sang in the shower. It could be that you didn’t need that extra cup of coffee at 3pm, or that you were able to sustain a solid conversation or play games with the kids after dinner.
Now, how often do you have that feeling? Or more importantly, do you remember the last time you felt revived and energized? It’s easy to fall into the busy trap, where we get involved in the day to day tasks and forget to take care of ourselves. As a result, you get run down and easy tasks feel difficult – you’ve lost the world-conquering, task-mastering zip you used to have. I normally ask my patients if they wake up refreshed in the mornings, but if you’re pressing the snooze button constantly you may need to make some changes to get your energy back.
Try some of these tried and true methods of protecting and bolstering your energy levels.
Breathe for Energy
While it is a common reaction to stress, shallow breathing prevents the body from receiving enough oxygen and, in a short period of time, depletes the body of energy. Often, we don’t even notice that our breathing has become quick or shallow until we’re already anxious and exhausted. The trick is to be proactive and mindful about your breathing every day so that you can recognize and respond appropriately when you need to. Like any skill, deep breathing needs to be practiced, but in time you can train your nervous system to relax more quickly.
One powerful and simple breathing technique I recommend is:
Sit down with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and press the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a soft sighing sound. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
Repeat for a total of four breaths.
Short High Intensity Exercise
Ideally about a half hour of exercise, three times a week can help you increase your energy and motivation. And some of the best kinds of activity for revving up your energy come in short bursts of high intensity movement. When I was in graduate school, I was part of a McMaster University study on HIIT, and after 6 weeks of three-times-weekly workouts of 1 minute intense cycling and 1 minute of rest for 10 rounds, I lost 4% abdominal fat, gained 1 kg of muscle, and doubled my aerobic capacity. Whether you choose to take a HIIT class that focuses on interspersing bursts of cardio and strength training, or you decide to get outside on your lunch break for a brisk walk, swinging your arms and moving vigorously, those bursts of exertion will help you rev up your engine, boost your metabolism, and keep you going for the rest of the day. Extra points if these activities happen outside, where you get the additional energy boosting effects of being in nature and getting healthy doses of sunshine!
Think of it this way: your body is about 60% water so if you’re dehydrated your body won’t be able to function as well as it should – and it will tell you so. Headaches, lethargy, dry mouth, irritability, these are all signs that you need to hydrate. When your body is hydrated, your blood can more easily carry oxygen and nutrients to where they need to be and that results in a lift of energy! If you’re drinking more water and then urinating all the, chances are you’re not absorbing the water you take in – another sign of chronic stress – and we need to chat.
Increase Your B12
B-vitamins are also known as the ‘happy vitamins’ for their ability to convert dietary nutrients into chemicals that the body can use for energy. While the body needs a few different varieties of B vitamins, one that is especially tied to good energy is vitamin B12. Exhaustion, pallor, feeling low and tired can all indicate low levels of vitamin B12 in the body. B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, but is also available in much smaller amounts in plant foods like dark leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, and mushrooms, so be sure that you’re eating a diet rich in this wide variety of fresh foods! For those with severe B12 deficiency, vitamin B12 injections could be helpful because they deliver the vitamin into the muscle tissue and bypass the digestive system which, if compromised, may not absorb the nutrient effectively.
Increase Blood Oxygen
Bet you didn’t realize that all of the previous four suggestions have one thing in common! They all positively affect your energy by pumping more oxygen into your bloodstream. Well-oxygenated blood is better able to carry nutrients, can eliminate toxins efficiently, help us think more clearly, and can greatly diminish fatigue and exhaustion. Want another way to help your body get the oxygen it needs? Add fresh greenery to your home and office. Plants feed off of the carbon dioxide we exhale, and replace it with fresh oxygen in the air. So, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, take some time to sniff the plants yas well. Since green spaces are shown to reduce stress levels, you just might find you’re breathing easier and feeling more lively too!
Maintaining healthy energy levels can be challenging when faced with the stresses of everyday life, but these easy tips can help you rev up your engine and keep you humming a happy tune all day long. If you still find that your energy levels seem lower than usual, or you are having difficulty sustaining your energy levels over time, you may need a closer look at what is going on and I want to be there to help uncover the hidden energy sinks in your life.
Book an appointment to visit me and let’s help you get back to your energetic self. Call or email us at 647-772-4396
– Dr. Hillary