When you feel drowsy or droop with fatigue, every task seems monumental and even fun activities feel like work.
Helpful: Take a double-pronged approach to invigoration — including on-the-spot techniques for an immediate energy burst… plus simple strategies that take just minutes to do, yet give you long-lasting stamina day after day.
FOR AN INSTANT ENERGY SURGE…
Wake up your nose — and the rest of you will follow. Aromatherapy stimulates the brain’s olfactory center and heightens awareness of your surroundings. Dab a drop of therapeutic-grade rosemary essential oil (sold at health-food stores) on the pulse points behind both ears, as you would perfume… or dampen a cloth with cool water, sprinkle it with four drops of therapeutic-grade lemon essential oil, then place it on your forehead or the back of your neck for five minutes. Do not dab full-strength essential oil directly under your nose — it could be too strong.
Belt out a few bars. As you sing, you inhale deeply, bringing more energizing oxygen into your lungs and increasing circulation throughout your body… and exhale through your mouth, efficiently expelling the waste product carbon dioxide. Bonus: Choosing a favorite cheerful song lifts your mood.
Give yourself a good stretch. Stretching opens the chest, straightens the spine, expands the lungs and relieves energy-sapping tension in neck and shoulder muscles. Try…
Seated stretch. Sit in a sturdy chair, feet flat on the floor, hands clasped in front of you. As you inhale, straighten arms and slowly raise them over your head, turning your wrists so palms face the ceiling. Gently press arms as far back as possible, holding for a count of five. Slowly exhale, lowering arms to the starting position. Repeat three times.
Doorway stretch. Stand in a doorway, a few inches behind the threshold, with feet about six inches apart. Raise arms out to your sides and bend elbows to a 90-degree angle, placing hands and forearms on either side of the doorjamb. Keeping your back straight, lean forward slightly to feel a stretch across your chest. Hold for 15 seconds. Repeat three times.
Take 800 steps. A moderately brisk walk — at a pace of about 100 steps per minute — is an excellent way to get blood flowing to your heart and brain. Exercise also triggers the release of endorphins, brain chemicals that make you feel alert and energetic. If possible, walk outdoors — the sun’s rays activate the synthesis of mood-enhancing vitamin D.
Just breathe. The beauty of this is that you can do it anytime, anywhere, and instantly feel more alert. Good deep-breathing technique: Inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs for a count of four… hold your breath for a count of seven… slowly and deliberately exhale through pursed lips (to regulate the release of air) to a count of eight. Take three normal breaths, then repeat the deep-breathing exercise twice more.
Rationale: This technique pulls the diaphragm downward and creates a negative pressure that draws more blood into your heart. As the heart pumps this blood around your body, all your tissues receive extra energizing oxygen.
TO REFUEL ENERGY RESERVES…
Eat a stamina-boosting breakfast — one cup of fortified, whole-grain cereal. Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that enter the bloodstream slowly, providing sustained energy by keeping blood sugar levels stable. Avoid starting your day with simple carbohydrates, such as white toast or a doughnut, which cause blood sugar and energy levels to spike and then plummet by mid-morning.
Also: With your cereal, have one-half cup of low-fat milk or fortified soy milk. Its calcium and vitamin D nourish your bones… its protein is used to build and repair muscle and other tissues.
For snacks, go nuts. A handful of almonds, cashews, walnuts or other type of nut provides a sustained energy boost, thanks to blood sugar-stabilizing complex carbohydrates and tissue-building protein.
More benefits: Though relatively high in calories at about 160 per ounce, nuts tend not to cause energy-depleting weight gain because they promote long-lasting satiety and stave off hunger. Nuts also are rich in unsaturated fats that promote cardiovascular health.
Take a green tea break three or four times a day. Green tea contains catechins, antioxidant plant chemicals that support the immune system by neutralizing cell-damaging free radicals, fighting bacteria and easing inflammation. When your immune system is operating at its peak, you have more pep. Green tea also boosts metabolism, stabilizing blood sugar and helping to ward off weight gain… and protects against many debilitating chronic conditions, including heart disease and diabetes. Convenient: If you are going to be out and about during the day, before you leave the house, brew up enough tea to fill a thermos and take it with you.
While green tea does contain some caffeine — enough to provide a slight energy lift — its caffeine content generally is low enough not to interfere with sleep, provided that you avoid drinking it within four hours of bedtime. If you want to minimize caffeine, let the green tea bag steep for just 30 seconds, then discard that water and replace it with fresh hot water, allowing it to steep for several minutes.
If you prefer coffee: Be aware that, with its higher caffeine content, coffee may leave you feeling even more sluggish once the caffeine buzz wears off. Limit caffeinated coffee to no more than 16 ounces per day, and consume it prior to midafternoon so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.
Try energizing supplements. Various herbal and dietary supplements help support immune function and/or reduce energy-sapping stress. Each has its own benefits as well as risks (such as possible side effects or interactions with medications or other supplements), so it is important to discuss their appropriateness and dosage guidelines with your doctor before taking them.
Options to consider: Astragalus… calcium plus magnesium… coenzyme Q10… ginseng… rhodiola… vitamin B complex.
Express yourself to lower stress. Play the piano, pen a poem, paint a picture or just doodle. The purpose: Creative self-expression is stimulating — it alleviates energy-draining stress by helping you reconnect with your deep inner well of emotional well-being.