If you can adapt some natural habits for boosting energy levels this will help and flow into all areas of you life. Low energy and fatigue are not uncommon during the winter months. It’s easy to let the doom and gloom of the cold, long dark days to allow us to feel drained. But I truly believe that by implementing these following tips, you can feel energised and have the spring in your step that you deserve!
1) Establish a routine to also improve natural habits
The body LOVES routine. And this applies to our morning, bedtime & eating routines. It is super important to work with your circadian rhythm, which is essentially your internal timer that tells you when to be awake and when to be asleep.
Working with this will hugely contribute to boosting energy levels throughout the day. This can be done by sticking to your normal bedtime and wake-up time as much as possible, including at weekends. I’d recommend getting a good alarm clock that wakes you gently, rather than relying on your phone.
When it comes to eating, establish and stick to a regular mealtime (ideally fasting in between) so that you’re not mindlessly grazing throughout the day.
2) Prioritise Sleep
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that a good night’s sleep will set us up well for the day. We all know that lack of sleep after a long flight, a big night out or perhaps a night of insomnia will leave us feeling jaded and unable to function to the best of our ability.
Getting a good night’s sleep, where your body enters the ‘deep sleep’ phase, plays the greatest role in energy, as it enhances your ability to make ATP (the body’s energy molecule) whilst enabling the body to renew and repair itself.
Some basic sleep hygiene practices we can implement include sticking to a good routine (see point above!), avoiding caffeine after midday, ensuring your bedroom is a cool temperature, getting some sunlight in the early morning and trying to keep work out of the bedroom.
It’s also wise to avoid looking at technological devices at least an hour before bed. Alongside the blue light they emit, they keep us stimulated and hooked, which delays our natural bedtime, impacting both the quality and quantity of your sleep, and ultimately impacting your energy levels. Try to disconnect and avoid all digital devices for at least an hour before you go to bed.
3) Eat for Energy
Eating well is one of the most influential ways of boosting energy levels. By nourishing your body with a balanced diet jam-packed with the vitamins and minerals your body needs, our energy levels will be at their optimum.
We can achieve this by avoiding refined grains such as white bread, rice and pasta, which are all examples of “lethargic foods”. They might seem like a satisfying option at the time, but unfortunately, they plonk you on a blood sugar rollercoaster, leaving you feeling tired not long afterwards.
Instead, opt for complex carbohydrates (e.g., vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, freekeh, sweet potatoes) and pair them with a source of healthy fat and protein in every meal and snack. This will slow down the release of the carbohydrates into the blood stream.
I’d also recommend cutting back on sugars (both refined and excessive fruit sugars), as this will cause our blood sugar and insulin levels to fluctuate, leaving us feeling exhausted.
4) Avoid relying on caffeine for boosting energy levels
There is no doubt that we are a nation of caffeine addicts. Relying on it for energy is a vicious cycle – we feel fatigued, so we turn to coffee to feel more alert, but when this inevitably wears off, we need even more caffeine to feel normal again. Unfortunately, we can build up a tolerance to caffeine.
If you’re hooked on the java, I’d recommend starting to gradually cut down on your consumption. Try switching to decaffeinated herbal teas or infused water instead. However, if you can’t bear the thought of a life without coffee, have 1 or 2 in the morning, mindfully sipping and savoring the taste and avoid drinking any coffee after midday as this can impact our sleep quality.
5) Hydration is key
This brings me nicely onto my next point – hydration! Being properly hydrated is the number one factor when it comes to fighting fatigue. Roughly 50% to 60% of your body weight is water, and you are constantly losing water though sweating, urinating, and even breathing! This water needs to be replenished. Drink lots of water in between meals to keep properly hydrated.
Not a fan of plain water? Herbal teas and water infused with lemon/lime or cucumber/mint will do the trick! If you’re unsure if you’re hydrated enough, keep an eye on your urine, it should be a pale yellow colour throughout the day.
6) Limit alcohol intake
I’m not telling you to go teetotal, but I really would suggest having over half the week alcohol free because alcohol can negatively affect your energy levels. Not only does alcohol increase dehydration, it also causes blood sugar levels to drop and decreases natural stimulants like dopamine and serotonin – all of which contribute to our energy levels!
There’s an old wive’s tale that suggests that a little nightcap will help you sleep soundly through the night. Although alcohol’s sedative effects can make you drowsy, it also raises the body’s level of adrenaline, a stress hormone that increases the heart rate and generally stimulates the body, which can result in nighttime awakenings. Indeed, alcohol may account for 10% of cases of persistent insomnia.
7) Get some fresh air and movement each day.
Spending time outside in natural light and fresh air invigorates the senses! In fact, exposing your skin to natural sunlight for just 10-15 minutes per day helps your body produce essential Vitamin D which increases serotonin levels (the happy hormone) – a must for increased energy! Instead of heading to the kitchen for a snack during your breaks throughout the day, why not go for a brisk walk or jog – some fresh air will help you stay alert and energised.
Staying active is also one of the best ways of boosting energy levels. Regular movement can help increase metabolism, circulation, and oxygen intake – all essential for keeping your energy levels high. Getting 30 minutes of exercise at least a few days, a week will boost mental clarity.
During the working day, get up and move every hour so your body doesn’t become stagnant, or even better, set a timer on your phone as a reminder.
Take this opportunity to do a few basic stretches such as bending from side-to-side, doing circles with your arms, rolling your shoulders and taking big yawns. Such mild movements will help you stay alert without having to rely on coffee or sugary snacks for a sudden burst of energy.