Here are 10 tips to help you recharge your batteries. The tips range from quick pick-me-ups that beat the occasional bouts with fatigue to major lifestyle overhauls that just might get rid of fatigue for good.
1. GET ACTIVE
The reason you seem to have very little energy from dawn to dusk might not be all that you’re doing, but rather all that you’re not doing such as exercising. When you feel bushed, taking it easy is often your natural response, but it may be the last thing you should do. It’s true that exercise takes great energy, but it gives back even more. Unlike fossil fuels, human energy increases as it is used. Save it only if you want to become a fossil yourself.
Still unconvinced? Consider these scientific facts: A sedentary body must work harder just to exist because the heart and lungs are less efficient. Poor circulation deprives the tissues of oxygen, and muscles weaken and deteriorate. Regular aerobic exercise pumps up circulation which increases the flow of oxygen to all parts of the body. The result leaves you feeling more alert and alive.
2. FIND A PARTNER
On New Year’s day, you make a resolution to exercise every day, but the workout quickly grows dull and lonely. By April, the resolution may become a distant memory. Exercising with a partner can make all the difference because it can transform your routine from a drag to a boost. People are twice as likely to stick with their exercise routine if their spouse or significant other exercises as well. Having a partner inspires you to keep going when you’d rather throw in the towel. Someone by your side can cheer you on and teach you new moves when the old routine grows stale.
3. QUICK WORKOUTS
When you need a lift, do you grab a candy bar? Taking a brisk 10-minute walk will raise your energy level higher and faster. A sugary snack will give you a quick energy surge, but then your body produces extra insulin to bring your blood sugar level back down. The result? You soon feel more tired, tense, and hungry than you did to begin with. If you can’t get out for a brisk walk, then try some simple stretching exercises.
4. DRINK MORE WATER
Dehydration is often-overlooked, but it is not an uncommon cause of sagging spirits. As you grow older, the thirst mechanism which reminds you to replenish your fluids often loses its sensitivity. So in middle age it pays to be more conscientious about drinking several glasses of water a day. Plus, if you work in a dry or stuffy office, you could be losing a significant amount of water through evaporation.
As for coffee, less can be more. Best to stick to just one cup in the morning which will keep you alert for five to six hours. Hold off on cup #2 until 3 p.m. or so. Downing several cups at breakfast can be a waste. It’s like adding more gas when the tank is already full, and it can invite a mid-afternoon crash.
5. KNOW WHEN YOU PEAK
Your energy level has regular peaks and valleys regulated by the biological clock in your brain. Often you unwillingly fight your body’s natural rhythm in the hope of squeezing more work out of the day. Instead, try synchronizing your activities with your body’s innate clock.
Mental alertness follows your body temperature, and it generally peaks in the late morning around 11 a.m. Mental vigor takes a dip after lunch in the mid-afternoon ,and it rebounds in the early evening. Simple repetitive tasks, such as opening the mail or doing the laundry, are best saved for the late afternoon or mid-evening. Take on projects that require the most intellectual sharpness in the late morning. If you’re reading something you’d like to remember a week or a month later, keep in mind that long-term memory retention is strongest at night.
6. TAKE A NAP IF YOU CAN
Sometimes a nap is the best energy booster, and sometimes it’s a total drain. How can you tell when a nap will pep you up and when it will drag you down? The biggest mistake middle-aged people make is to fall asleep in front of the television after dinner. They wake up a few hours later and then crawl off to bed. You sleep for a few hours, wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep. Convinced you have insomnia, you request a prescription from the doctor. That sets the stage for the vicious cycle of dependence on sleeping pills. In fact, such people get their seven to eight hours of sleep and don’t have insomnia at all. In order to avoid falling asleep after dinner, you should treat yourself to an uncomfortable chair and force yourself to stay awake until it is time to go to bed.
The mid-afternoon snooze is another matter. A nap during the middle of the afternoon is beneficial for many people because the nap is biologically programmed. The body hits a natural energy trough during that time of the day. The key is to limit that nap to an hour or else it will throw your routine off and make it tough to get a good night’s sleep.
7. START GRAZING
The hearty, wholesome three square meals a day that your mother used to insist upon may shift you into idle instead of high gear. Consider grazing for a change: nibbling on a larger number of light, nutritious mini-meals over the course of the day. This helps keep blood sugar levels steady which eliminates energy highs and lows. Grazing can also help you resist the temptation to overeat at lunch which is a major cause of the mid-afternoon slump.
Smaller meals do a better job of complementing your body’s metabolism. The time-honored three square meals a day can leave you listless during the long wait between meals. After you eat, you still feel sluggish because your body is overwhelmed by the incoming food. Preoccupied with digestion, your body out of necessity tries to keep you from being very active.
8. EAT ENERGY FOODS
As marathoners know, the best energy food isn’t sweets, cola or coffee. It’s complex carbohydrates like potatoes, rice, pasta, and whole-grain breads. The glucose derived from complex carbohydrates is absorbed more slowly by the digestive tract which produces a longer and more even energy boost.
Don’t fall for the claim that eating less red meat automatically gives you more zip. When people eat red meat, it’s usually very fatty cuts of beef, pork, or lamb. It’s not the meat per se but the fat that makes you tired. The level of chilomicrons (fat droplets) in the bloodstream skyrockets, hampering oxygen delivery to the brain and other tissues.
9. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
When was the last time you woke up in the morning eagerly anticipating the day? Was it just a matter of weeks, or was it months, maybe years? Diligently keeping your nose to the grindstone may be draining away an essential energy source. Even small changes in your daily routine can have a powerful, invigorating effect. You can feel younger and happier by injecting small bits of novelty and intellectual challenge into your routine. It can also improve your health and lengthen your life.
Consider these remedies in order to change your routine: On the next beautiful Saturday afternoon, cancel the trip to the supermarket and head for the park instead. If you always read House & Garden, try National Geographic or Business Week. The next time a friend calls at the last minute and says, “Let’s go,” go. Learn a new language. Ride the bus to the end of the line and explore an unknown neighborhood. Have your palm read. Turn your radio dial to a different station and expose yourself to another world.
10. MANAGE YOUR STRESS
A stress-free life is impossible, and it wouldn’t be desirable either. Under the best conditions, stress motivates and even exhilarates. However, when you feel you have no options or control, stress becomes exhausting.
Originally, stress was part of our species’ “fight-or-flight” response which was designed to help us react in tight situations by getting our adrenaline pumping, our hearts pounding, our muscles poised for action, our minds focused. Hormones flood the bloodstream with glucose and fat, our body’s two fuels. But this all-systems-go reaction isn’t as useful in today’s world. Yes, it’s still a jungle out there, but our problems aren’t easily solved by either fight or flight. As a result, our stress response wreaks wear and tear on the body.
Perception is critical here. When you view life as a challenge instead of a threat, your fight-or-flight response diminishes and your body recuperates. What can you do to feel like a victor instead of a victim? Learn to say no. Worry about just one thing at a time. Stop trying to control things you can’t control. Vent your emotions. Schedule some play time into every day. Always keep your goals and expectations realistic. Stay positive and enjoy life!!