10 (natural) ways to boost your energy
Words: Melanie Dimmitt
Oh energy, you are a fickle friend. It’s bad enough if you’re a no-show in the morning, but when you shamelessly flee our workdays (admit it, by 3pm you’ve long left the building), weeknights and, worse still, weekends, what can we do but reach for a double-shot or sugar-laden ‘fix’? Here’s what. We’ve rounded up 10 ways to get a buzz on, naturally.
- Exercise your cranky off
It might be the absolute last thing you feel like doing when you’re rocking your grumpy pants, but research shows that regular, low-intensity exercise can help boost energy levels in people suffering from fatigue – by a whopping 65 per cent according to one US study. If you’re seriously lacking in the motivation department try a teacher-led class. That way all you have to do is show up, take direction and feed off the energy in the room.
- Have fun in the sun
Numerous findings point to sunlight as a natural mood enhancer, said to boost productivity and even get your creative juices going because, basically, when your body detects light, it eases up on its melatonin (sleepy hormone) production and in steps a flush of happy hormone serotonin. Throw in a spot of gardening – a proven energising hobby – and you’ll be bouncing before you know it.
- Soak in essential oils
Barre Body’s Brittni Giles is something of an expert when it comes to essential oils, and loves turning to them for a pick me up. “Whether it via diffusing, using a spray bottle or simply adding a few drops into my palms and taking some deep breaths, there are so many uplifting oils to choose from,” says Brittni, whose go-to oils for energy are orange, bergamot, peppermint, pink grapefruit, lemon and rosemary.
- Get off your toosh
For those of us crashing in front of our computer screens, there’s a simple way to give yourself a lift (and it doesn’t come from the vending machine). Stand up and go for a stroll – even if it’s just for a few minutes. A recent UK study showed that taking 15 steps every half an hour could be the difference between feeling blah and feeling hurrah. Glued to your desk? According to research, just sitting up straighter can improve mood and energy levels.
- Learn something new
If your brain isn’t challenged you’ll get bored, so inject some mental stimulation into your day with a little education. Studies have shown that experiencing something novel and new releases dopamine – a brain chemical that makes us feel driven, focused and motivated. So listen to a podcast, bury your nose in a book or try your tongue at a little conversational French. Très bon!
- Clock up some zzzzzz
In his book, The Source, New York’s Dr. Woodson Merrell stresses that: “Adequate, regenerative rest is a critical foundation of health as well as a source of abundant energy.” He suggests investing in good bedding (hello Egyptian cotton sheets), only going to bed when you’re actually sleepy and getting up at the same time every day as solid strategies to get you sleeping like a pro.
- Laugh with someone you love
It might be your mum, your best mate, or maybe even Will Farrell (we won’t tell). Pick up the phone (or, in Will’s case, press play) and put yourself within earshot of someone who gets you right in the funny bone. Laughter has long been known to reduce stress, increase energy and enable you to stay focused and achieve more. Not feeling sociable? One study found that after watching amusing cat videos online, participants felt more energetic.
- Put some protein in you
What you put in your gob has as huge effect on how you feel, so serve up foods that are rich in fibre, protein and complex carbohydrates for a healthy dose of energy (salmon, spinach, sweet potato, almonds and avocados are all winners here). Go for a few small meals across your day, as chowing down on a hefty feed causes your heart rate to drop, and can leave your feeling sluggish (not to mention stuffed).
- Chew on a piece of gum
This one’s weird, but it works. A few years back, UK psychologists found that people who chewed gum for 15 minutes felt more switched on than those who didn’t, and it’s also been linked to cognitive benefits, with a US study finding that students who chewed gum did better in tests than those who didn’t pop a piece. Go for a mint flavour as it stimulates your nerve fibres – sort of like sloshing icy water on your face.
- Belt out a solo
Believe it or not, singing your little heart out increases your energy about as much as a cardio workout – so says research out of London. The less musically gifted among us might want to confine their concert to the shower – where there’s another opportunity for an energy boost. Crank the cold tap for as long as you can bear it before turning up the heat again. This opens up the capillaries, increases blood flow and stimulates your bod from head to toe. Don’t forget to finish up with another blast of cold (sorry…).