Do you ever wake up feeling like you’ve hardly slept, or you find your energy levels plummet during the day? Perhaps you feel you should be exercising more but at the end of a long day you just feel too tired.
Most of us would love to have more energy and there are so many products on the market that offer quick fixes, but often a few lifestyle changes can actually make a big difference – and they don’t have to cost the earth either!
Often, when you are feeling low on energy the last thing you want to do is exercise, but although it might seem counterintuitive, trying to incorporate some movement into your day can actually boost your energy and make you feel more alert. Can you find time during your day for a brief walk on the way to work or at lunch time. Perhaps you could wake up 10 minutes earlier in the morning to do some some gentle yoga, or maybe some stretching at your office desk or even at home while you are making dinner? If you are struggling to find motivation, some people find it helpful to change into activewear as soon as you get home from work and aim to do 10 minutes of light exercise – you might find that once you get started you can manage longer than 10 minutes.
Choose Healthy snacks
When we are tired it’s very easy to reach for high energy foods, such as cakes, cereal bars, chocolate, pastries and sweets, to give us a boost, but you’ll probably find that it will give you an initial boost and then an energy crash afterwards.
Instead of sugary snacks, why not try a few of these healthier snack alternatives:
- A small handful of nuts
- A few cubes of cheese and some sliced apple
- A small pot of plain natural yogurt & berries
- A piece of whole fruit like an apple or pear
- Some chopped vegetable and a tablespoon of hummus
- A slice of wholegrain toast with almond butter
And if you really, really need a sugar fix then you might find a piece of good quality dark chocolate satisfies your sugar cravings – remember not to have too much as chocolate also contains caffeine!
Tighten up your diet
Experiment with foods
There are so many magazine articles and influencers recommending we eat this or that for optimum health. However, a lot of what we eat actually comes down to our individual dietary and energy requirements, which will vary with age and activity levels.
Rather than following a diet plan. experiment with how different foods impact your own energy levels. Do bread, pasta and rice-based lunches leave you feeling sluggish in the afternoon? Perhaps you might find a large salad with some lean protein might satisfy you more without the energy slumps. Or perhaps you need a carb-heavy lunch to fuel your active job or lifestyle. Take control into your own hands and experiment with how different foods make you feel.
Reduce Caffeine & Alcohol
I think most of us are guilty of reaching for the caffeine when we are low on energy, but too much caffeine can actually negatively impact your energy levels. Caffiene can be found in the following foods and drinks:
- Tea (including green tea)
- Soft drinks
- Energy drinks & bars
Try to reduce the amount you drink and look for caffeine-free alternatives instead such as water and fruit/herbal teas.
Get a good sleep routine
The quality of your sleep can have a dramatic effect on your energy and mood and it’s well worth looking at your current routine to see if you can make any changes. We’ve put together a feature on improving your sleep during menopause but the sleep hygiene recommendations are the same whether you are going through menopause or not.
Drink more water
Most of us aren’t drinking enough water, and increasing your intake can have a positive impact on your energy levels.
Simple ways to increase your water intake:
- Keep a large glass next to your bed to drink as soon as you wake up in the morning.
- Make a habit of drinking a glass of water each time you are in the kitchen preparing food
- Have a large glass of water as soon as you get back home from work.
- If you are out for a meal, always request water, especially if you are drinking alcohol.
- Carry a reusable bottle with you
Get more light during the day
Whether you work from home or commute for work, it’s important to get enough natural light during day if you want improved energy levels. Experts recommend that you expose yourself to natural daylight for at least 30 minutes a day, particularly in the early part of the day. So try to make time to get outside, particularly if you find yourself based at home for much of the day.
While lifestyle changes can make a difference to your energy levels, if you are really struggling it’s best to talk to your healthcare professional so they can rule out any medical issues that might be impacting your day-to-day well-being.
For further information on eating for energy, see this helpful guide on the NHS website.