10 Effective Ways to Increase Your Energy Levels
Here are 10 simple (and unique) exercises you can use to increase productivity and energy levels. If you are in search of a boost, consider implementing a few of these recommendations over the next few weeks and see how you feel:
- Ditch the Strict Schedule!
If you start to feel anxious and stressed when working on a task, try switching to something else. Do not force yourself to work on something because your predetermined schedule says so; in fact, coming back to that project later when you have a more accepting attitude will yield better results. Loosen the reigns and allow yourself to work on projects that are most appealing to you during the present moment!
- Sleep in the Dark
Light interferes with sleep, at least partly because it inhibits melatonin secretion and thus resets the biological clock. For this reason, it is very important to keep your bedroom as dark as possible to ensure full cycles of sleep. (if your room is not pitch black, I suggest using a sleeping mask)! You will only be at you most industrious when you have a solid night of sleep under your belt.
- Fill Your Diet with Sufficient Brain Food
Roughly 50-60% of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used as insulation for its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell, the faster it sends messages and the speedier your thinking. Therefore eating foods with a healthy mix of fats is essential for energy and productivity. Fish (wild salmon, mackerel, anchovies especially) and dark leafy green vegetables are excellent choices.
Regular stretching does more than keep your muscles and tendons in a healthy state; it also keeps the brain’s arteries open and unclogged. Because the brain accounts for 15% of the body’s blood flow (while being only 2% of its overall weight) maintaining a free flow of oxygenated blood to our most vital organ is an excellent way to create more vigor in your life!
- Plan a Vacation
Consistently having things to look forward to is a great way to increase vitality over the long haul, and planning a really great vacation will motivate you to be all the more productive!
- Spend One Day a Month In Complete Silence
With all that modern culture throws at us, spending one day a month in complete silence (and even solitude) is a wonderful practice to increase productivity and energy levels over the long-haul. Why? Because the little voice in your head never stops, and cultivating the ability to quiet this chatterbox, even for a little while, can do wonders for your perspective and ability to get things done! Try this one time and see how you feel.
- Try Audio Guidance Sound Technology
Audio Guidance CD’s are simple, holistic, and backed by decades of reputable science. The brain emits a frequency like a battery, and audio guidance uses sound patterns to purposefully mold brain waves into desired states. This is an incredible tool for increasing productivity and for more information do a quick search for “Monroe Institute”.
- Eat Bigger Meal in the Middle of the Day
A great way to pamper your body and increase energy is to get in the habit of eating your bigger meal in the middle of the day. Your digestion is much more active during the day, allowing your body to use food for energy more effectively. At night, the body naturally begins to slow down and it is harder to digest.
- Say Thank You 50 Times a Day!
Gratitude yields energy. Every night before you go to bed, spend 5 minutes saying thank you out loud for all the experiences you had during the day: the people you interacted with, the work you accomplished, the food you ate, etc…As you do this, really try and feel the gratitude emanate from within. This is a wonderful practice for increasing productivity!
- Implement At Least 20 minutes of Cardio Exercise 4 Times a Week
Getting a sufficient “cardio” workout increases the body’s ability to get oxygen to the cells efficiently; this lowers blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and decreases body fat. These are absolute necessities for increasing productivity and a staple in the lifestyle of almost every high-energy person.
There are a myriad of things you can do to increase energy and vitality. These recommendations are simple and will yield noticeable results in a short time!
Here are twelve strategies to help you wake up refreshed and recharged, remain alert throughout the day, and wind down just in time for a good night’s sleep. Consider your energy crisis solved.
- Brighten your morning.
Wake up at the same time, and bathe yourself in sunlight. It enables your circadian rhythms, which are governed by your body’s “master clock” in the hypothalamus gland, to stay in sync with the 24-hour day. In the absence of light, your body’s sleep-wake cycle wants to delay by an average of twelve minutes every day and work on a 24.2-hour rhythm. Experts don’t understand why, but think it may relate to the sun’s seasonal shifts. That means your body wants to keep pushing your bedtime to later, but if you let that happen and still have to get up at the same time every day, you’re going to be tired.
To keep your circadian rhythms in time with the 24-hour day, head to the light as soon as you get up, even on a Saturday when you’ve decided to sleep in. Your mind will respond to light and bring you out of sleep.
- Jump-start your body.
They call it breakfast for a reason: You haven’t eaten for at least 8 hours. Your blood-sugar level is at its lowest ebb, so chow down right after you wake up and you’ll trigger an increase in leptin, which will in turn tell your body that the recent fast isn’t a famine.
When leptin goes up, you feel less hungry, and you increase energy expenditure. But be aware, if you want that energy to last until lunch, you need a breakfast that will produce a slow and steady increase in insulin, not a swift spike. Make your morning meal a bowl of instant oatmeal prepared with skim milk. Tufts University researchers recently found that people who ate one packet of instant oatmeal spiked with 1/2 cup of skim milk received a steady glucose infusion, which increased their alertness all morning and improved their ability to process information.
- Postpone your pick-me-up.
If you aren’t already jolting yourself with java, start; a University of Pennsylvania study shows that a dose of caffeine can combat sleep inertia. But have your latte later. That’s when you’ll really need it. Caffeine keeps you operating at a high level by blocking the effects of adenosine, a sleep-inducing brain chemical that accumulates as the day wears on. By the time adenosine builds up to the point where you start feeling sleepy generally, late in the afternoon the effects of your morning caffeine will have worn off.
Researchers from Rush University Medical Center found that you can stay alert by drinking about 2 ounces of coffee (equal to a large shot glass) several times throughout the day. But you don’t have to go through all that trouble. Having 1/2 to 1 cup of coffee or its caffeine equivalent during the late afternoon, when the pressure to sleep is high, will keep you energized. If you’re highly sensitive to caffeine’s effects, you should push your break back to early afternoon so you don’t have difficulty falling asleep at night.
- Squeeze in an A.M. run.
In a recent Taiwanese study of 29 men, researchers found that the men’s production of thyroid hormones shot up after the men ran on a treadmill. And once thyroid hormones are released, they’ll remain in your bloodstream for hours, keeping your metabolism revved well after your workout.
Here’s another reason to hit the treadmill before you hop into the shower: An early cardio workout will boost your mood for the workday ahead. Aerobic exercise increases your brain’s output of serotonin (a hormone associated with happiness) and dopamine (the hormone most closely linked to motivation).
- Combine your eating with a meeting.
You started your day with a full tank of testosterone. Now, 7-hours later your T-level has begun to dip a bit. At the same time, your supply of the hunger hormone ghrelin is slowly rising. What’s the significance of these shifts? They’re both pointing toward an identical objective: a strategic lunch. When testosterone levels are high, your brain is primed for independent, focused work (like writing, filing reports, or generating ideas). On the other hand, your lower noontime level is ideal for acing meetings: You still have a mental edge but not an aggressive one.
When it comes time to order, choose an entrée that contains both protein and fat. Here’s why: As food enters your intestines, it stimulates the production of two hormones that create a feeling of fullness, known as peptide YY and oxyntomodulin. By adding slow-digesting fat and protein to the intestinal equation, you’ll ensure a steady release of peptide YY and oxyntomodulin and no hunger pangs at 2 p.m.
- Step outside during late-day slumps.
Just as it does in the early morning, light later in the day may blunt an afternoon energy dip, which often comes on like clockwork. Normal indoor lighting provides 400 lux of illumination, which doesn’t help much; the sun, however, provides 1 500 to 100 000 lux. If you’ll spend some time outdoors you will be more alert and cheerful during the day.
Step outside into revitalizing sunlight for a short walk. Vary your routine by taking a different path every day, doing a short errand, or catching up with a friend on your cell phone. If you can’t get outside, plant yourself next to a window, open the shades wide, and look out. You can also try using artificial sunlight — Philips Electronics is making a system for offices called Dynamic Lighting that alters the light level throughout the day raising it in the afternoon, for instance, to counteract the post-lunch dip that many workers experience.
- Boost your brainpower.
Here’s a familiar scenario: You have only a few more hours before quitting time, but your brain feels like it’s running on fumes. And in a sense it is, due to a bottoming out of your T-levels. Scientists suggest that when you lose testosterone — your memory worsens, a steady supply of T is critical for the neurons in your brain to properly communicate with each other.
So skip the coffee and take a competition break instead to harness your hormones. Just make sure the contest for instance, trash-can basketball, paper football, or a quick computer game is one that will challenge you. When people are playing a competitive game, the winner will tend to have a higher level of testosterone than the loser. There may be a little bit of a boost for being more dominant. Or you can just compete with yourself. Take 15 minutes to start a crossword or Sudoku puzzle and then return to the task at hand.
- Enjoy every meal by the clock.
Eat your meals at the same time every day. Your body’s caloric needs are closely tied to its other daily rhythms, including when you get up and go to bed and when you expend the most energy (during your late-day brisk walk, for example). What will make you tired is if your body expects a 7 o’clock breakfast and a 12 o’clock lunch and you skip one of those. Chaotic eating leads to greater hunger and overeating.
Prepare your breakfast the night before so you’re sure to start the day with a boost even if you’re running late. Pack a lunch to take to work in case you can’t get away from your desk midday. Make several meals on the weekend that you can quickly heat up so that you and your family eat dinner at the same time every night. That way, you’ll all have enough energy for an after-dinner badminton game.
- Rock yourself awake.
Do not stretch out on the couch or recline in your easy chair — underlying sleepiness becomes more apparent when you put yourself in sleep-conducive positions, such as lying down. So instead of turning on the TV, load your iPod or mix CD with your favorite up-tempo tunes. To increase the perception of energy, listen to a piece of music that is upbeat and familiar, and use that song to get you going.
Even just thinking about it and hearing it in your mind can give you a boost of energy. What you do with this newfound energy is up to you, but if you have a significant other, now actually might be the perfect time to head for bed.
- Safeguard your gains.
A couple of beers? Fine. A couple of beers a few times a week? You may reap a raft of health benefits. The key word, though, is moderation — when two brew-skies turn into six or seven, you may start to undermine many of your earlier efforts. Alcohol consumption decreases testosterone. Over time, decreased testosterone levels lead to an increase in obesity and fat tissue, and a decrease in muscle mass, libido and erectile function. Plus, tipping the bottle a bit too much will make you more apt to double up on dessert.
Cut yourself off. Keep only two beers in the fridge at a time. If you buy a six-pack, keep four in the pantry. The more you can hamper raw convenience, the more likely you are to curb mindless drinking. Out at a bar? Use a cocktail napkin to scribble down everything you imbibe. Scientists at the Alcohol Research Group at the University of California found that people who record every drink consume less alcohol than those who don’t keep track.
- Meditate in short bursts.
Take some time out from the daily grind and spend it on meditation. Even in the span of 3 minutes, meditation can decrease the stress hormones that tense your muscles and constrict your blood vessels, and boost endorphins. Quick time-outs throughout your workday are also easier to fit into a busy schedule than a longer one at the end.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted (in a busy office, that may even mean going into the bathroom). Sit down and close your eyes. Listen to your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale, and when thoughts intrude, imagine that they’re like clouds floating by in the sky. Then visualize something or someone who makes you happy. It could be someplace you’ve been on vacation, someone you love, or something you love doing (like lounging in a fragrant bath).
- Shut it off.
Do you do anything in your bedroom besides sleep? Maybe watch TV, read a book, or play on your laptop? These activities train the brain to associate the bed with excitement. Some people become so sensitive to this that when they go to bed, all of a sudden their brain’s aroused, because normally they’re watching a football game or reading a favorite magazine. Give melatonin an opportunity to kick in by shutting down your computer and turning off your TV about 30 minutes before you go to bed. Sex is fine — it is, after all, nature’s perfect sleep aid.
Try some of the tips that I’ve outlined here and I’m sure that you’ll see a marked improvement in your energy. Most importantly, have fun with your body and give it the energy and nutrients it requires.