25 Natural Energy Boosters That Just Might Change Your Life
Chase fatigue out of your day with these natural ways to jump-start your energy.
Nurse a coffee throughout the day
If you need a quadruple shot of espresso just to bring your eyelids to half-mast in the morning, you may be driving yourself deeper and deeper into a low-energy rut. Compelling research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and other institutions finds that frequent low doses of caffeine—the amount in a quarter-cup of coffee—were more effective than a few larger doses of caffeine in keeping people alert. Here are new ways to get energy for life.
Lighten your glycemic load
Foods with a low glycemic load—like beans, bran cereal, brown rice, whole wheat bread, and nuts—have less impact on your blood sugar than foods with a high glycemic load—like white rice, spaghetti, potatoes, cornflakes, and sugary juices and drinks. Eating more low-glycemic-load foods will help you keep your blood sugar steady and avoid the lightheadedness and “shakes” associated with blood sugar drops, which usually follow spikes.
Once a day, go for a 10-minute “thank you” walk
As you walk, focus your thoughts on what you feel most thankful for. After the walk, make a mental note of how you feel. “This simple technique combines the power of gratefulness with the positive effects of walking and exercise, flooding your brain with happy neurotransmitters and endorphins. It’s a simple yet powerful exercise that energizes the mind and body and builds mental and physical muscle,” says Jon Gordon, a professional speaker, energy coach, and author of Become an Energy Addict.
When you find yourself thinking a negative thought, picture a stop sign
Then either push the thought out of your mind or replace it with a positive one. “Negative feelings take a lot of mental energy,” says Kathleen W. Wilson, MD, an internal medicine specialist and author of When You Think You Are Falling Apart. “Whenever possible, avoid unnecessary self-criticism. Stop blaming yourself for past events that you cannot change, and know that you deserve the same level of consideration and mercy as others.” Also try eating these high-energy foods to beat the afternoon slump.
Drink two glasses of icy water
Fatigue is often one of the first symptoms of dehydration, and if all you’ve sipped all day is coffee and soft drinks, it’s quite likely you’re dehydrated. Plus, the refreshing coldness will serve as a virtual slap in the face.
Soak a washcloth in icy water and place it over your face
The icy coolness of the washcloth will quickly rejuvenate your facial muscles and eyes. It likely will lift your spirits as well. This is what dietitians eat for more energy.
Get enough iron
Constantly dragging yourself around? You could have iron-deficiency anemia, a common cause of fatigue. Iron is essential for producing hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your body’s cells, where it is used to produce energy. Good food sources of iron are red meat, iron-fortified cereal, green leafy vegetables, and dried beans. You may also need a supplement; check with your doctor.
When someone asks you to do something, say, ‘Let me check my schedule and I’ll get back to you.’
This gives you time to think about the request and decide if it’s something you really want to do, or simply an energy-sucking waste of your time. These are the energizing tricks you need to try if you are always tired.
Have your thyroid checked
If it’s not producing enough thyroid hormone, it could be making you feel tired and run-down. A simple blood test will tell. Other symptoms of low thyroid are dry skin, weight gain, constipation, and feeling cold.
List all the people you’re angry with and write each a letter of forgiveness
Stewing over past events only drains your energy. “Try to accept others for who they are and don’t expend a lot of effort on changing them,” says Dr. Wilson. Oh, and you don’t have to send the letter. Simply writing it is enough.
Soak up a little sun in winter
Have all the energy of a hibernating bear in the winter? Make a point of getting outside for 30 minutes to an hour during the day. The natural light can improve your energy level and help fight seasonal affective disorder—also known as the winter blahs. These are the everyday things that drain your energy.
In the hour before bedtime, turn off the TV and put away your work
Relax with a good book, some needlepoint, a crossword puzzle, or a coloring book. Take a warm bath and listen to soothing music. This ritual will help you fall asleep more quickly and experience a more restful slumber, resulting in more energy the following day.
Turn off the news for one week
Depressing television news of politics, murders, fires, and terrorism can quickly drain your mental reserves. If you’re a news junkie, try this experiment for one week: Stop reading your newspaper and watch only one television news program a day (or none if you can stand it). Notice how you feel at the end of the week. If you feel more energetic and peaceful, stick to your new habit.
Create a mail-sorting center
Clutter is not only distracting, it’s frustrating and energy-wasting. (How many times have you scoured the house for lost keys or bills that were right in front of you?) To keep track of your bills and other mail, buy an open file box or hanging files from an office supply store. Place it in your kitchen and use it to sort your mail into categories such as “bills,” “receipts,” and “letters.” “When you know where your bills are, you can pay them on time, thus reducing frustration and stress,” says Audrey Thomas, an organizational consultant and author of The Road Called Chaos.
Breathe in new energy
iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund
Sit in a chair with a straight back. Place your hands over your stomach and breathe into your tummy so that your hands rise and fall with your breath. Imagine you are inhaling a white light that fills your body with vital energy. Do this for five full breaths. Then, as you inhale, tighten the muscles that connect your shoulders and neck, pulling your shoulders up toward your ears. “When you have inhaled all you can and your shoulders are snug around your ears, hold your breath for just a second,” says Karl D. La Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker and mental health investigator in OR. “Then exhale as you release the tension and your breath in one big whoosh — as if you were releasing the weight of the world from your shoulders. Repeat until you feel clear, refreshed, and revitalized.” These mini meditations can banish stress and anxiety.
Make a list of everything you’re looking forward to in the next month
Do this every month when you pay your rent or mortgage. Simply building more anticipation into your life helps stoke your energy.
Get your energy vitamins
Research at the University of California at Berkeley found that the amino acid L-carnitine and the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid can boost both memory and energy, possibly by improving the way body cells produce energy. Bruce Ames, PhD, one of the study authors and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Berkeley, says you can consume the right amount of both nutrients by taking a daily multivitamin and eating a well-balanced diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables.
Eat something crunchy
Pretzels, carrots, and other crunchy foods make your jaw work hard, which can wake up your facial muscles, helping you feel more alert. These are the daily habits of people who are naturally energetic.
Chew a piece of peppermint or spearmint gum
iStock/Eva Katalin Kondoros
You’ll get a burst of energy from the invigorating flavor and scent, not to mention the physical act of chewing (it’s hard to chew if you’re asleep).
Eat every four hours
It’s much better to continually refuel your body before it hits empty than to wait until you’re in the danger zone and then overdo it. So every four hours (except, of course, when you’re sleeping), have a mini-meal or snack. A mini-meal might be a handful of roasted peanuts, a hard-boiled egg or slice of lean luncheon meat, and a sliced apple. Nonfat yogurt sprinkled with flaxseeds makes a great snack.
You wouldn’t think stillness would lead to energy, but often, that’s just what you need to create your second wind. Simply sit for 10 minutes in a comfortable chair and stare out the window. Let your mind drift wherever it wants to go. Some might call this meditation. We just call it “being,” something we’re often too frenzied to remember to do.
Stand up, get on your toes, and lift your fingertips as close as you can to the ceiling. Keep the stretch expanding for several seconds, feeling it in your calves, your abdomen, your shoulders, your arms, your fingers. After a few seconds, relax, take a few deep breaths, and do it again. By doing this, you activate almost every muscle you have, sending oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. These energizing stretches you can even do in your bed.
Eat a bowl of all-bran cereal
iStock/Eva Katalin Kondoros
It contains more than 300 milligrams of phosphorous, an important mineral that the body needs to metabolize carbohydrates, fat, and protein so they can be used as energy, Heck, it will do you a lot more good than those greasy chips from the vending machine!
Make a list of every important relationship in your life
Rank how those relationships make you feel, from 1 (terrible) to 5 (fabulous). Bad relationships are known energy sappers. Take note of the relationships that don’t add any positive energy, and develop plans to adroitly remove yourself from them. Next, check out these proven tricks to naturally boost energy.
- ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. “The Hydration Equation: Update on Water Balance and Cognitive Performance.”
- Harvard Health Publishing. “The Lowdown on Thyroid Slowdown.”
- Mayo Clinic. “Iron Deficiency Anemia.”
- National Institute of Mental Health. Seasonal Affective Disorder.
- Nutrition Journal. “Metabolic Effects of Low Glycaemic Index Diets.”
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. “Feeding Acetyl-l-carnitine and Lipoic Acid to Old Rats Significantly Improves Metabolic Function While Decreasing Oxidative Stress.”
- Scientia Pharmaceutica. “Effects of Inhaled Rosemary Oil on Subjective Feelings and Activities of the Nervous System.”
- SELF Nutrition Data. “Cereals Ready-to-Eat, Kellogg, Kellogg’s All-Bran Original Nutrition Facts & Calories.”
- Sleep. “Low-dose Repeated Caffeine Administration for Circadian-phase-dependent Performance Degradation During Extended Wakefulness.”