This post originally appeared on arianadagan.com in August 2020
Some might say that energy is the key to true happiness. With increasingly busy, hectic, and stressful lives we feel less and less energy even as we start our days. Energy has direct correlations to happiness, positivity, and confidence, so here’s how to boost energy for a happier life!
How Does Energy Affect Happiness?
So simple! Think back to the last time you woke up feeling refreshed – you were probably smiling ear to ear. In its simplest form, conserving energy provides us with energy to exert towards things that make us happy. The more activities you do that make you happy, the happier and more confident you feel.
In a more complicated way, your physical, mental and emotional energies are tied together. When one feels better, or more refreshed, the others naturally raise as well. The higher your energies are, the more positive, happy, and confident you feel.
Why Are You So Tired?
For some it may be obvious – you stay up late, you clearly don’t get enough sleep, working out is the last thing on your mind, or you have a baby in your home. For others, it may be a bit of mystery on the outside. Why are you so tired all the time?
It’s no secret that people are fatigued in this day and age. Not to say society hasn’t always been this way, but with every advancement comes new issues to deal with. With the technology boom and the information age we find ourselves staring at screens more and more often. This has a direct correlation to fatigue. In fact, our screens keep us awake, and our minds going. The more you stare, the more your mind stays stimulated.
I’m specifically talking about the blue lights from screens. These directly affect the production of melatonin in our bodies. Melatonin is the natural sleep aid our bodies produce. When the blue light inhibits the production, we stay awake longer (or find ourselves reaching for a bottle of melatonin – fun fact, the more you take, the less your body will naturally produce)!
26 Ways to Boost Your Energy
- Get More Sleep | Let’s talk about the obvious one first. Researchers are pretty sure that 7 hours is the key to a restful night for an adult, and if your alarm shocks you every morning – then it’s time to sleep in, or at least go to bed earlier. Obviously lack of sleep makes us grumpy and tired, but it also increases stress, makes it harder to focus during the day, and increases chances to overeat. You may be surprised how many seemingly unrelated issues in our lives could be remedied by simply sleeping longer (don’t forget cat naps!).
- Reduce Stress | I know, I know that’s a loaded suggestion. But oftentimes we put unnecessary stress and pressure on ourselves or take on too many projects when we know we shouldn’t. Sometimes it’s worth reevaluating your priorities and removing or extending deadlines when possible. Don’t be afraid to incorporate aromatherapy into your life to reduce stress as well. Reducing stress gives us more energy to work faster and more productively.
- Workout | A midday workout, yoga session, a quick walk, or even just stretching can boost your energy instantly. It also works to build up a stamina for the longterm while boosting your metabolism. Any activity that gets the blood flowing will release endorphins to raise your energy level.
- Eat Chocolate | Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both are physical and mental stimulants which can instantly boost your energy levels. Watch out for sugar content, the darker the chocolate the less sugar it contains, and therefore less likely it will lead to a (sugar) energy crash later.
- Dance Party | Dancing is a form of exercise, so we already know it builds stamina and gets your heart pumping which is great for raising your energy. But the music is what really pumps this up (pun intended). Loud, quick tempo music gets your blood flowing by speeding up your heart rate. As it sends oxygen soaring through your body, your energy levels naturally rise making this the perfect combo for a quick energy raising activity!
- Meditate | On the opposite spectrum is meditation. Recent studies show that mindful meditation trains the brain to reduce the processing of nonessential information. This allows people to focus more easily on activities beyond meditation in their day-to-day life.
- Go Outside | Connecting with nature is a great way of reducing stress and restoring mental energy. Not only this, but studies have shown that 20 minutes in nature is equivalent to one cup of coffee!
- Lighten Your Load | It’s time to stop overworking, which can directly affect your diet and stress levels. Eating unhealthy or irregularly can cause weight gain, poor circulation, heart conditions, sleep cycles, and more. By lightening your workload you can reduce the stress in your mind and body, encouraging other healthy habits, increase concentration and energy, and reduce conditions such as depression or anxiety.
- Power Nap | A quick 20-minute power nap has the ability to reset your mind and body, providing a powerful burst of alertness and increased motor function while decreasing fatigue. It’s important to note that not all power naps are created equally. Pay attention to your body, some people need 10 minutes, while others need up to 60. You probably already know your perfect time, but don’t be afraid to test out different lengths of time, and times of day. Make sure you set an alarm so you don’t oversleep as it will make you feel even more tired when you wake!
- Drink Coffee | A single cup of joe has enough caffeine to enter the bloodstream to stimulate your mind and body without causing a jolt that leads to an energy crash later in the day. Studies show that initial morning energy crashes occur between 9-11 AM, drinking a solo cup of coffee during that period will provide a substantial energy boost to last the majority of the day. Not a fan of coffee? Green tea works just as well, and less likely to give you jitters, even in high amounts.
- Sit Up Straight | Bad posture requires muscles to work harder than they should be to support the body, wasting valuable energy. When sitting or slouching you are left feeling exhausted or even sickly feeling. Straight posture means your body isn’t working as hard to compensate, giving you lots of extra energy left over to do other more productive things.
- Eat Regularly | Skipping meals or eating on an irregular schedule forces the body to go into an energy-saving mode which slows down thought process, disrupts concentration, and makes physically moving harder. Eating on a set schedule, or healthy snacks throughout the day helps keep your body satiated and full of energy. Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats provide the body with the calories needed to function at full capacity! Snacks full of complex carbs and reduced sugar can give you an energy boost without the crash.
- Fake it | Ever heard ‘fake it until you make it’? The same idea applies here, if you act energetic, your body will begin to feel energetic. In fact, as you force yourself to move, your body will begin to stimulate the production of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ chemical. That means the more you pretend you have energy, the better you feel, and therefore the more you want to move, and thus naturally create energy for yourself!
- Be Social | Studies show that face-to-face contact with friends and family sends a variety of chemicals into our bloodstreams that positively affect stress and anxiety.
- Smell a Lemon | No really, the smell of lemons, grapefruits, and oranges boost your body’s production of serotonin while decreasing norepinephrine which means you will feel happier, more awake, and calmer! So grab some fresh fruit and slice it up, light up your favorite lemon-fresh candle, or throw a few drops of lemon essential oil into your diffusser!
- 20 Rule | Every 20 minutes look away from a screen at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This rule is usually heard when talking about saving your eyesight. But eye strain often causes headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. No eye strain = no fatigue! Your body doesn’t need to work overtime to avoid the pain or exhaustion and you can use that extra energy for other things!
- Limit Substance Use | It may seem obvious but drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes drain our energy in different ways. For example, alcohol reduces your blood sugar levels making you feel drowsy and sluggish, while the nicotine from cigarettes changes your brain regulation causing a state of negative energy in the body. Limiting stimulants reduces the chances of altering brain chemistry and creating negative energy states.
- Upgrade Your Diet | Similarly to eating regular meals, healthy meals provide the body with well-rounded nutrients that keep the mind and body full of energy. Eating unhealthy foods or even unbalanced meals can make the body feel sluggish, drowsy, or even provide short-term energy boosts that leave you crashing later. You may be concerned about money, understandable because being healthy can feel expensive. Instead of jumping on the delicious fresh produce, try snacking of frozen ones. Take time to look at nutrition facts; choose things like natural peanut butter instead of ones full of sugar, or limit high sugar items such as nutella to special occassions (PS – your period totally counts as a special occassion).
- Drink Water | If you are feeling tired, the first thing you should try is drinking water. Dehydration means less oxygen getting to the brain causing your body to work harder to compensate. With all this extra energy being exerted it can be really tough to stay awake. Drinking water provides a quick pick-me-up!
- Wear Red or Violet | Physcologicially speaking, the color red evokes feelings of excitement and energy. These feelings further evoke a physical response as a danger cue which may make you move faster. But, this comes at a cost – often it can be used to distract or even illicit anxiety. Similarly, violet is the shade with the most visible energy waves on the spectrum and may evoke feelings of calm and happiness.
- Laugh | Laughter releases endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety and provide an instant energy boost to the body. This is a great exuse to pull up your favorite comedian on YouTube in the middle of the day, or breakout your best silly face!
- Vitamin SUN (aka D) | Sunlight boosts the production of serotonin which gives you more energy while keeping you calmer and more positive. Spending even 5 minutes a day in the sunshine can reduce stress, depression, and anxiety and improve your overall concentration!
- Breathing Techniques | Mindful breathing techniques increase the blow flow and oxygen getting to your brain, which as we have talked about before means less wasted energy from the body and more excess energy to use elsewhere! Breathing techniques can be taught by a therapist, yoga, or meditation coach, but even practicing breathing deeply and singing can increase the oxygen!
- Be Productive | Productivity is a drug, the more you achieve the more you want to achieve, naturally increasing the feel-good endorphins in your body which increases your energy levels.
- Chew Gum | Chewing gum increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The blood flow to the brain increases the oxygen and in turn, increases your energy levels for 15-20 minutes. Perfect for getting through a quick task or test!
- Mental Stimulation | Brain teasers, sudoku, timed writing prompts, even group brainstorm sessions can stimulate the brain. The key is to stay stimulated without overworking. Too little stimulation and you may feel bored or lethargic, too much will leave you fatigued. So find something that both challenges you, but is fun and enjoyable for the perfect combination of keeping you awake, motivated, and energized!
Ready to boost your energy and live a happier life? What will you try first? Drop your favorite energy-boosting ideas down below!
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