9 ways to feel more energized every day
Many of us fight fatigue on a daily basis. Sometimes without even realizing it.
We are overwhelmed by stress and lack of sleep. And even after taking a break, we quickly burn out again. We struggle to keep our eyes open after lunch. And by the time we get back from work all we want to do is veg out on the couch.
What if we told you, life didn’t have to be like this? Have you ever taken a really nice holiday and come back feeling completely refreshed and full of energy? This is how we should all be feeling every day.
We can increase our daily energy levels by making a few tweaks to our lifestyles. Simple activities like drinking the right amount of water, exercising every day, and lowering your daily stress levels can have a huge impact on how you feel.
In this guide, you will find 9 changes that you can make to your life to see an increase in your energy levels.
Include energy-rich foods in your diet
Our body uses food in the same way that a car burns fuel. Without it, we just can’t go anywhere. If we want to get the best performance out of our bodies and feel our best while doing so then we need to feed it the right fuel.
Before we get into what you should be eating, it is worth taking a look at how much you are eating. If you aren’t eating enough then you are always going to feel exhausted. Food is what our bodies convert into energy. If we don’t eat enough of it we can suffer from extreme fatigue.
Not eating enough can cause serious damage to your health in both the short and long term.
One of the easiest ways to feel more energized is to up the number of carbohydrates that you eat. Many people are scared of carbohydrates because when cooked in an unhealthy way they can be bad for you and make you feel sluggish. They cut them out of their diets to be ‘healthier’, but carbohydrates are actually essential to our diets.
Even if we are trying to lose weight we should be eating carbohydrates – yes potatoes are carbohydrates, but eating a baked potato is much better for you than eating fries (and more filling). What most people don’t know is that whole grains, nuts, and a lot of fruits are also classed as carbohydrates.
Bananas are a great source of healthy energy. They have a little bit of sugar for quick energy release and complex carbohydrates for long-term energy. This is why you will see lots of athletes enjoying a banana after their competition.
Fats are another source of energy that many people try to cut out of their diet. Healthy fats are incredibly easy for our bodies to break down and turn into energy without causing other unwanted side effects.
If you want to introduce healthy fats into your diet there are some easy swaps you can make.
Firstly, swap the sugar in your coffee for honey.
Swap beef mince for turkey mince (the same goes for stakes).
Swap out one of your meat-based meals for a vegetarian one every week.
Oily fish, avocados, and nuts are some of the best sources of healthy fats – and they taste good too!
As well as feeding your body well, it is crucial that you stay hydrated. This means drinking enough water every day. How much water you will need to drink will depend on your height, weight, how much activity you do, and how hot it is where you live.
This sounds counterintuitive, but if you want to get more energy you need to exercise.
How using energy gives us more energy
Our body works on a system of supply and demand.
Our body knows how much energy we constantly need and only makes that much. If we start exercising, we suddenly need more energy. So, our body learns to produce more energy regularly.
Studies have shown that taking part in LIIT (low-intensity interval training) exercise 5 times a week can reduce fatigue by up to 65% and raise energy levels by 20%.
LIIT activities include fast walking, yoga, and gentle swimming.
This study shows that the smallest amount of exercise can completely reboot our energy levels. What is interesting is that this effect seems to be exponential – meaning that the more exercise we do, the more energy we will get.
Exercising also causes our bodies to release endorphins. Not only do endorphins make us feel happier, but they also help our body to use our energy more efficiently.
Other benefits of exercise
There are two other ways that regular exercise can give us more energy.
Firstly, exercising makes us sleep better. We get more REM sleep when we exercise. REM sleep is the type of sleep that is most critical and leaves us feeling renewed.
Secondly, exercising regularly reduces our stress levels. This is something we will also cover in more detail later. When we are stressed, our bodies are drained of a vast amount of energy; this is why we always feel exhausted when we are under stress.
Making it a habit
If you want this tip to work for you, then you need to build an exercise habit. To make this as easy as possible, you should find an exercise that you enjoy. If you hate the workout that you are doing, you are less likely to keep it up in the long run.
If you don’t like running or lifting weights there are many other types of exercise that you can do including:
- Rock climbing
- Sword Fighting
- Martial Arts
Exercise and food
There is such a thing as over-exercising. Earlier, we said that the more you exercise the more energy you will have. This is true, but only if you eat enough to support your body.
If you do not eat enough, your body will take the energy it needs away from other parts of your body to help you exercise. Over-exercising can cause dangerous weight loss, hair loss, fogginess, and aching joints, to name but a few side effects.
Try to get enough sleep
This sounds obvious, but many people spend their time looking for any way to increase their energy levels, apart from getting more sleep.
We understand that for some people (particularly parents with young children) how much sleep you get is completely out of your control. If this sounds like you then you may want to move on to the next section.
Lack of sleep
Not getting enough sleep (7-8 hours) over a long period of time is classed as Sleep Deprivation. 1 in 3 adults suffers from this condition.
Not getting enough sleep has a negative effect on every part of your body. When we are tired our brain, nervous system, and every other system in our body don’t function as well as they do when we are rested.
Some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation include:
- Increased likelihood of early death
- Memory loss
- Weaken immune system
- Low blood sugar levels
- Higher blood pressure
- Increased likelihood of strokes
How to sleep better
It is all well and good for us to say that you need to sleep more. But it means nothing if we don’t tell you how to do that. We’re here to help, so below you will find 5 mini tips that will improve the quality of your sleep.
As we mentioned above, exercising is a great way to increase your energy levels, but it also helps you to sleep better.
Exercising regularly helps your body to fall into REM sleep more quickly. Without REM sleep your body can’t store memories or learn new things. REM sleep is also essential for energy production in our bodies.
Exercise also helps us to burn off the adrenaline. When we overthink before bed our body tries to release adrenaline, this can prevent us from sleeping. If we have exercised then our adrenaline reserves are low and this won’t happen.
Journal and Meditate
Another way you can improve your sleep is by practicing mindfulness techniques.
Activities such as journaling and meditation are a great way to slow your mind down before heading to bed. If you have taken the time to settle your mind you will find it easier to drift off.
Avoid blue light
Blue light releases the same chemicals in our brain that sunlight does. So, using your phone before bed makes your brain think that the sun is still up and it doesn’t need to go to sleep yet.
Swap out your phone and the TV for a book, journal, or sketchpad around an hour before you need to be asleep.
Wear socks to bed
This may seem like a silly idea, but studies have shown that wearing socks to bed will make you fall asleep 10% faster.
Reduce your stress levels
Stress is unavoidable. This is something we all have to accept.
However, we can change how we deal with the consequences of stress and in some cases, we can remove the causes of stress from our lives.
Anything can cause stress and it is sadly a self-perpetuating cycle. Once we get stressed we find everything else more stressful, which makes us more stressed.
Why stress makes us tired
Stress makes us tired for many reasons, however, the main way stress drains our energy is by releasing Cortisol.
Cortisol is what scientists call the stress hormone in our body. It is made in the same place as adrenaline and they are often released together.
10,000 years ago these two chemicals kept us alive. They provided us with enough energy to run away from things that were trying to eat us. Now, most of us have no way to burn off this energy.
When Cortisol builds up in our body, it damages every single area of it and our body uses a lot of energy to counteract its effects.
How to reduce stress
Here are 4 proven ways to reduce stress in our lives:
As we have mentioned above, exercise helps to deplete our adrenaline resources, therefore when we get stressed the physical and mental symptoms are less overwhelming.
Exercise is also a quick and easy way to release endorphins which make us feel happier and more in control of our lives.
There is a reason why Doctors recommend mindfulness exercises alongside anti-anxiety medication.
Mindfulness exercises can help us rewire our brains to be less susceptible to stress. Which in turn reduces the negative effects stress has on our bodies.
Mindfulness encourages us to take a step back from our emotions, accept them, and work with them rather than fight against them.
Mindfulness activities to try:
- Go for a walk
- Mindful Eating
- Gratitude list
Here is a great resource for beginning your mindfulness journey.
Our minds are incredibly powerful and allow us to change our perception of reality.
There are many things that cause us to stress that we cannot control. If we accept that these things are outside of our control then our brain will stop seeing them as a danger.
For example, once you have walked out of an exam hall you cannot change your test results. You can choose to accept this and just wait calmly for these results or you can stress until they arrive. Your test results will be the same no matter which option you chose.
There is an old saying that goes, a man who worries about a bad thing goes through it twice.
Change what you can
In the tip above, we mentioned that there are some elements of stress that you can’t control. If you accept that the stress will affect your body less. However, there are sometimes changes that you can make to reduce your stress levels.
This could be as simple as starting work earlier to avoid the rush hour traffic on the way home to not agreeing to too many social events during the busy weeks at work.
Another habit that might be sapping you of your much needed energy is smoking. Whether you smoke 40 cigarettes a day or 5, it’s time to consider breaking this habit.
Why does smoking make us tired?
You will be shocked to learn that the reason smoking makes you tired is because nicotine stops you from realizing that you are exhausted.
Nicotine works in a similar way to caffeine and is also a stimulant. It keeps you awake at night and it can cause cravings that are strong enough to pull you out of sleep.
If you are smoking throughout the day then the nicotine doesn’t wear off, and it is difficult to tell how tired you actually are.
Another reason you may feel tired as a smoker is that your body is being deprived of oxygen. The lung capacity of the average smoker is seriously depleted and many smokers struggle to ingest enough for their body to function properly.
Tips for quitting smoking
Smoking has a reputation for being difficult to quit, however, advancements in technology and psychology over the last decade have made it easier to quit smoking than ever before.
Tip 1 – make the most of nicotine replacements. It is now possible to get nicotine patches, capsules, gum, sprays, and much more. These will be your best friends when you first quit.
Tip 2 – Replace your bad habit with a good one. Every time you are tempted to smoke, do something that will improve your life. It could be making yourself a cup of green tea, sending a kind text to a friend, or doing 10 push ups. As you remove smoking from your life, replace it with something positive.
Other benefits of quitting smoking
More energy isn’t the only benefit you will get if you quit smoking. Here are a few more:
- Increase lung capacity
- Reduces chances of developing lung, mouth, throat, and skin cancer
- Save yourself a lot of money
Reduce alcohol intake
Ever wondered why you feel so tired and low after a night of heavy drinking. While some of the lowness will definitely be a result of your hangover. However, drinking alcohol excessively actually has a large number of other negative effects on our bodies.
If you want to feel more energized then you should consider reducing the amount of alcohol you drink each week.
What does heavy drinking do to our bodies?
Alcohol has an effect on both our physical and mental health. Both of which affect our energy levels.
It changes our brains
Alcohol is a depressant. It raises stress and anxiety levels while you are drinking and in the days following. Drinking alcohol literally changes our brain chemistry. Those who already suffer from depression and anxiety are highly likely to experience panic attacks and fatigue after drinking. While alcohol makes both of those symptoms more likely in those who do not suffer from anxiety.
It is a toxin
The main reason that alcohol makes us so tired is that it is a toxin.
When we drink, our bodies have to work a lot harder than they normally would to filter it out of our system. Alcohol dehydrates us, affects our blood sugar levels, makes us sensitive to light, and can damage our nervous system.
All of these symptoms make it harder for our body to function properly. So, it burns through more of its energy reserves. Which in turn, results in us being more tired.
Drink a cup of coffee in the morning
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that you should avoid nicotine because it is a stimulant. So, you may be wondering why we are recommending coffee which is full of caffeine – another stimulant.
There are many reasons why caffeine is a safer stimulant than nicotine, and drinking coffee is much better for you than smoking. But we are recommending it in this article because studies have shown that 1-2 cups of coffee a day is actually good for your health.
Coffee in the morning
The main difference between caffeine and nicotine is that caffeine has some medical applications. All of which revolve around improving alertness and brain response times. For example, caffeine is included in medication that treats the common cold, migraines, and fatigue.
The important thing to remember with caffeine is that it is best used in moderation. For two reasons.
Firstly, like all ‘toxins’ (which caffeine technically is)our bodies start to build up a resistance to it, the more we consume it. To keep reaping the benefits of caffeine, we either have to ingest it in small doses or go through fasting periods to build up its potency again.
Secondly, caffeine has a severe crash when its effects run out. The average effect of a cup of coffee lasts for 5 hours. If you drink a cup of coffee when you feel tired, you will feel less tired until the effects wear off. However, after they are gone you will be hit by all that tiredness at once.
This is what is often referred to as a caffeine hangover or crash.
3 ways to avoid a caffeine hangover:
Here are three tips for avoiding a caffeine hangover so you can enjoy the benefits of a cup of coffee and avoid feeling less tired.
- Drink coffee to add energy, not to make up for missing energy. What we mean by this is don’t drink coffee after a night of bad sleep, instead drink it on a day that you know you will need extra energy to get through
- Timing is everything. A cup of coffee will keep you awake for 5 hours, so make sure not to drink any for the 5 hours before you want to sleep.
- Only drink what you need. Some of us drink coffee because we like the taste, but if we drink too much we are only compounding the negative side effects and eliminating the good ones.
How much coffee is too much coffee?
If you are looking to get all the benefits of drinking coffee with the least amount of side effects possible – how much coffee should you be drinking?
Try to avoid drinking more than two cups of coffee a day. If possible, have them both in the morning, but you could also have a cup of coffee with your lunch if you felt you needed it.
Other benefits of drinking caffeine
- Helps to develop regular bowel movements
- Improves exercise performance
- Improves brain function
- Can improve heart health
- Can lower blood pressure
If you’re curious about the differences between Red Bull and coffee, check out my other article where I cover everything you need to know.
Choose an energy drink or supplement
Energy drinks and supplements can give you more energy when used in the right way. The clue is in the name. If you have an energy emergency then you are going to want to have an energy drink to hand.
Like coffee, sometimes energy drinks and supplements get a bad reputation. There are some people who think they make you more tired. Having too many energy drinks can have a negative effect and cause a caffeine crash (see the section above for tips on how to avoid these). If taken at the right time they can give you enough energy to make it through even the most exhausting day – especially when other energy sources can’t.
What are energy drinks and how do they work?
Energy drinks are any type of beverage that has been formulated to stimulate energy in the drinker.
Traditional energy drinks contain caffeine as their main energy source, however, some brands are experimenting with using different ingredients.
Guarana and Ginseng are two ingredients that are very common in energy drinks. Guarana (like coffee, tea, and mate) is a plant that naturally contains caffeine, it is also very sweet. Ginseng is used to help stimulate the nervous system.
Energy drinks also typically contain sugar. Companies also add B Vitamins as they help the body to convert food and drink to energy more efficiently.
There are two main types of energy supplements – vitamins and what we will refer to as ‘pre-workouts’.
There are many supplements on the market that contain the vitamins necessary for our body to convert food into energy.
A good example of this is Vitamin B12. You may want to consider taking a B12 vitamin if you are a vegan, vegetarian, or do not eat much meat.
Other supplements like Iron, Ginseng, and turmeric have all shown promising signs of improving energy levels.
Pre-workouts are a form of energy supplement (typically a powder that dissolves in water) that are designed to give an energy boost before strenuous exercise or activity.
These drinks are incredibly high in caffeine and are designed to give the user short but intense bursts of energy. If their energy is not burnt off the drinker can be left feeling a little jittery.
How to use energy drinks and supplements
Energy supplements (vitamins) tend to be designed to help your body produce energy more efficiently rather than give you an instant boost – so these can be taken at any time of the day.
However, if you are taking an energy supplement (pre-workout style) then you will only want to take these 30 minutes before you need the energy and you should not take them after lunch unless you intend to burn all that energy off.
Energy drinks should be consumed in a similar fashion to coffee. You should have no more than 2 a day (1 is preferable) and you should not consume them after you have eaten your lunch.
A note on sugar and sweeteners
When reading this section, please remember that not all energy drinks are made equally. Some, just like some pre-made coffee drinks, are full of sugar, chemical sweeteners, and other stimulants that can be dangerous when consumed in too high doses. Again, we recommend energy drinks for boosting your energy levels when consumed in moderation. The same goes for energy supplements.
Our final tip, for when you are feeling really tired is to go outside.
Experts have been telling us for years that we should all be spending more time outside. This is often mistaken for the idea that we need to do more exercise. However, spending time outside has more benefits than just increasing the amount of exercise we do.
Spending time in nature has been shown to lower blood pressure, elevate depression, and reduce stress levels. The change in scenery wakes our brains up and increases their levels of alertness. The change in temperature also helps to stimulate blood flow around the body.
What you can do outside
You don’t just have to head outside to go on a hike. You could take a book and read under a tree. You could go swimming in your local lake (if it is safe and legal). You could meditate in the park. Or you could just lie down on some grass and do some cloud gazing.
To add more outside time to your day, suggest to a friend you take your coffee to go when you meet up or take the long but scenic walk home from work.
It is possible for all of us to wake up every morning feeling refreshed. And not having enough time to sleep for 8 hours a night doesn’t mean you have to spend every day exhausted.
While sleeping for the recommended amount of time is the easiest way to feel refreshed. There are other things you can do to improve your alertness and increase your energy levels.
These include the obvious tricks like drinking energy drinks and coffee. But you can also use some more outside the box methods – like sleeping with your socks on to help yourself fall asleep faster or working out at the gym.
So, what are you waiting for, you don’t have to settle for being tired all the time anymore!