10 Ways to Increase Energy Levels

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nuts 2I love (need) my coffee every morning, but often around 2 pm I find myself needing the wake-up feeling I get from my French roast. Unfortunately, caffeine after noon affects my sleep at night, so I need to look for other ways to perk me up and keep me going through hectic days. Here are 10 things that you can do to avoid the midday slump and increase your energy.

1. Eat a healthy breakfast. Studies show that eating breakfast increases our alertness, and the effect is almost immediate. To stave off hunger until noon, eat a meal that’s high in fiber and contains protein and healthy fats. Overnight oats is a great way to do this if you are rushed in the morning.

2. Take a cold shower. I know this does not sound appealing, but cold water really does shock the body awake. Researchers have suggested that as little as 3 minutes in a cold shower might help counteract chronic fatigue.

3. Pump up the volume. Research shows that listening to some tunes can lessen stress, but the benefits don’t stop there. Engaging with the music has been shown to significantly decrease tiredness. So sing, dance or even just tap your fingers to the beat!

4. Stay hydrated and skip the sugary drinks. Don’t rely on a soy vanilla latte to increase your energy. With or without caffeine, sugary drinks have been shown to sap alertness and concentration in the long run. Stick to water or herbal tea. Even mild dehydration can make your mind feel fuzzy, so drink up throughout the day.

5. Have a magnesium-packed snack. You can meet your body’s magnesium needs by snacking on almonds, hazelnuts or cashews each day. A deficiency in magnesium can make you feel sluggish.

6. Stretch for 10 minutes. When you exercise, oxygen-rich blood gets pumped to your brain, muscles and heart for a natural energy boost.

7. Chew gum. This one is fun! At least one study has shown that chewing gum increases alertness; it might even improve mental performance. One study found that students who chewed gum while studying and writing exams had higher test scores! Some gums contain animal-derived ingredients like gelatin, stearic acid and glycerin, so shop smart. There are many great natural gums on the market.

8. Snack on a square of dark chocolate. This may be my favorite. Although there is some caffeine in dark chocolate, it is considerably less than coffee. Aside from being delicious, one study suggested that flavonoids in cocoa can improve mood and cognitive skills. Dark chocolate (with at least 60% cacao) has even been called a stimulant by researchers.

9. Get on the aromatherapy bandwagon. Stimulating aromatherapy scents like lemon and grapefruit might be just the thing to perk you up on a sleepy day. One study compared how smelling scentless water, lavender essential oil or lemon essential oil affects energy levels. The essential oil that increased energy and mood the most was lemon. You can use a diffuser, or simply place a drop or two in your hands and cup your hands around your nose and breathe in.

10. Go for a walk outside. According to a series of studies, nature is the new coffee. As little as 20 minutes of walking outdoors can increase your energy, vitality and well-being. Plus, exposure to sunlight is essential for proper production of vitamin D and melatonin, which help govern our energy levels.

Photo from here, with thanks.

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January 2023