Must. Stay. Awake. Yes, it’s the 3 o’clock mantra. And who hasn’t mumbled it while fighting off midday yawns and drooping eyes?
Fatigue and flagging energy seem to be epidemics, especially among women who burn the candle at both ends (and who doesn’t?). Instead of moping, pump up your mojo with these 10 strategies from experts in sleep, fitness, nutrition, psychology, and alternative medicine.
1. See the light
Get the right light, and you’ll have lots more energy. But that can be a challenge, given the poorly lit offices we sit in and the scant doses of daily sunlight (which contains brain-activating short-wavelength blue light) we get. “Our circadian rhythms are more sensitive to blue light than any other kind,” says Mariana Figueiro, assistant professor at the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
To take advantage of that energizing blue boost, lift your shades the minute you get up or take a 30-minute walk first thing in the morning. And go outside as often as you can during the day (especially right before you need to be extra-alert), says Scott Campbell, Ph.D., director of the Human Chronobiology Laboratory at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Westchester, New York. To up your blue light at work, use lamps with “natural” lightbulbs — try Sylvania’s Daylight Extra bulbs, an Ott-Lite, or a light box that uses blue-light technology.
2. Get pumped with protein
Unless you plan to run a marathon, carbo-loading for energy is out. Instead, eat protein to increase mental alertness and energy, says Debra Hollon, M.S., R.D., a clinical nutritionist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Protein contains tyrosine, an amino acid that elevates the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. It increases satiety, too. And when you feel fuller, you’re not apt to overdo the breads and sweets that induce rollercoaster highs and lows.
Eat plant- and animal-based protein throughout the day — an egg or high-protein cereal for breakfast, 10 almonds midmorning, a cup of low-sugar yogurt in the afternoon — and your stamina should stabilize. Health.com: Get pumped with protein — reconsider the egg
3. Lend a hand
Research shows that you get a “helper’s high,” a rush of endorphins that lasts for hours, when you volunteer, says Kimberly Kingsley, author of “The Energy Cure: How to Recharge Your Life 30 Seconds at a Time.” You don’t have to look far to help out, she says. “There may be a single mom in your family who needs a babysitter or a lonely neighbor who’d love to chat.”
4. Breathe hard — more often
That post-workout rush of energy you feel is well-documented: Movement sends oxygen through the bloodstream to invigorate cells. That’s why Gerald K. Endress, fitness director at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, suggests that you break up your workouts to maximize your oxygen intake. Health.com: Best new ways to boost your metabolism
Lift weights, roll out the exercise ball, or do five minutes of yoga in the morning. Climb a few flights of stairs at lunch and jog after dinner. To add an extra kick to your workout, breathe deeply for your first one or two minutes of cardio, Endress says: Inhale from your belly; then breathe out slowly, imagining you’re pulling your navel toward your spine. Health.com: The fast new way to walk off weight
5. Bag a new brew
Boost your energy with white tea, which has a delicate flavor that requires little sweetening. “Of all the teas, white tea goes through the least processing,” says Iman Hakim, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona in Tucson and a leading researcher on the benefits of tea. As a result, white tea has the highest concentration of L-theanine, an amino acid that, according to recent research, stimulates alpha brain waves to boost alertness while producing a calming effect. And because a cup of white tea contains less caffeine (15 milligrams) than other teas (up to 50 mg) and coffee (120 mg), it’s more hydrating, another key for sustaining energy.
Source: CNN Health