Life is becoming increasingly fast-paced. Our reliance on technology means we are able to be contacted around the clock. We’re also working more, with many Australians and New Zealanders putting in more than 50 hours a week – among the longest working hours in the developed world. Add to that anxiety about job security, increased commuting times and everyday stress, and it means life is often lived with half-charged batteries.
If you need a boost, here are nine top tips to help you increase your energy levels.
1. Understand your fatigue
Before you can start improving your energy levels, you need to understand why you’re feeling fatigued. Common causes include:
- Lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep
- Anxiety, stress, depression and boredom
- Thyroid disorders
- Iron, B12 or folate deficiency
- Lack of exercise
- Poor working environment with lack of oxygen and poor lighting
- Too much caffeine, alcohol and sugar
- Hormonal change such as perimenopause or menopause
2. Get moving
If you’re feeling tired and lethargic, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. However, regular aerobic exercise several times a week will quickly boost your energy levels and increase feelings of well-being. If you’re very tired and unfit, start slowly and gently, with nothing more taxing than a 15-minute walk around the block. Gradually build up intensity and duration to a brisk, arm-swinging 30-45 minute walker, four to six times a week. The increased blood circulation to your brain and muscles will increase your cellular oxygenation and give a much-needed boost to your energy levels.
3. Take a blood test
When was the last time you had a thorough physical? If ongoing fatigue is an issue, see your doctor and ask for some blood test. Check thyroid function, iron, folate, B12 and vitamin D levels. Low and high blood pressure can also cause fatigue.
4. Consider a supplement
Sometimes eating a healthy diet is still not enough to cover your nutritional requirements. If you live a stressful lifestyle, are on the contraceptive pill, regularly drink coffee or alcohol, or eat a lot of sugar, chances are you’ll need to supplement your diet. If you’re constantly tired, taking a balanced multivitamin and mineral formula daily, with a generous amount of B-complex vitamins, should help increase your energy levels. Other nutritional energy boosters are fish and flaxseed oils, magnesium and co-enzyme Q10.
5. Eat for energy
What you put in your mouth determines the vitality of your life. Eating a processed, refined and nutrient-deficient diet is like putting diesel in a petrol car and expecting it to perform properly. You can supercharge your diet in the following ways:
- Start the day with a breakfast of complex carbohydrates and protein, such as eggs on toast, a protein smoothie, porridge or unsweetened muesli and fresh fruit and yoghurt
- Eat little and often through the day. Avoid going more than four hours between eating
- Avoid sugars, refined grains, caffeine and alcohol
- Eat a small amount of protein 2-3 times a day. Choose from meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, lentils, beans, or rice, nuts and seeds
- Eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily, including a generous serving of dark green vegetables like spinach
6. Stay hydrated
Dehydration is a common cause of fatigue, daytime sleepiness and a ‘fuzzy’ brain. If you’re relying on coffee and tea for your fluids, chances are you are in a state of constant dehydration as both are natural diuretics, and also increase your extraction of vital nutrients including B vitamins and magnesium. Aim for a minimum of six glasses of water daily. Discover four simple ways to stay hydrated at work here.
7. Monitor your breathing patterns
With the pressures of a fast lifestyle, coupled with many hours sitting in front of a computer or television screen, disordered breathing has become a common problem, yet many people are unaware of it. Check with your breathing regularly. A healthy breather takes about 12-14 deep, slow breaths a minute. If you are breathing noticeably more often than this, it’s likely you are a shallow, upper-chested breather. Deep breathing helps dissipate the fight-or-flight reaction so many of us experience when we’re stressed Hyperventilation can cause headaches and dizziness as well asl eave you feeling fatigued, anxious and generally out of sorts.
8. Address underlying emotional issues
There is nothing more draining than living an incongruent life. If you are a creative person who has always wanted to be a writer and you’re spending eight hours each day programming computers, you are living an incongruent life. Similarly, living in a relationship with constant friction leads to frustration and exhaustion. By addressing the unexpressed issues that you usually try to ignore, your mental and physical health will improve
9. Improve your sleep quality
Optimum health requires a minimum of seven and preferably eight hours of quality sleep each night. To improve the quality of your sleep, try the following:
- Go to bed and get up at the same time each day to establish good sleeping habits
- Make sure the room where you sleep is dark, cool and well-ventilated
- Limit your alcohol and caffeine consumption and avoid eating large, heavy meals in the evening
- Introduce half an hour of quiet, relaxing time before you go to bed. Read a book, listen to music or have a warm bath with relaxing oils
- Break the habit of falling asleep on the couch. Go to bed as soon as your eyes feel heavy