Do you start off your day ready to tackle the world and then slowly deflate like a tire with a slow leak? Or maybe you are one of those people who all of the sudden experiences a major crash that seems to hit you out of nowhere like a ton of bricks? Or perhaps you are the type who starts feeling tired before you have even gotten out of bed, and thinking of all that awaits you in the day ahead makes you just want to pull the covers over your head and go right back to sleep.
No matter your particular energy woes, the end result is the same…you feel listless and lethargic, and every task seems Herculean. You can’t concentrate. Your work suffers. There is no joy and lightness. You can’t even bring yourself to do things that make you feel better and are good for you, like your favorite hobbies or exercise. It affects your parenting, which triggers guilt. The list could go on and on. When our energy is stuck and stagnant, not flowing along like it is meant to be, it affects our being on all levels. It damages our mental, physical and emotional health. Hey, we all get tired sometimes…that’s a given. But, when you’re experiencing a chronic lack of energy something’s got to give.
Here are just a few tips.
TAKE MINI BREAKS
While your mind is convincing you that you need to power through no matter what in order to accomplish everything on your plate, this approach is actually making it harder and draining your energy in droves. By taking short breaks of five to ten minutes and doing nothing — and that really means nothing — you can give yourself a nice boost and improve your focus significantly.
This doesn’t mean taking a smoke break, checking Facebook to see how many likes your new profile picture got, or putzing around on your phone. Taking a real break from outside stimulation will refresh and renew you. Committing to these breaks throughout the day will have a cumulative effect, and you can steadily increase your energy reserves. Let yourself walk away.
Meditation has been getting more and more attention in recent years, as Western researchers are starting to uncover the benefits that Eastern spiritual masters and enthusiastic meditators have known for years. It is simply an awesome tool for improving mental and physical well-being on all fronts. And it seems that meditation is an awesome fatigue fighter as well. It might seem that a practice meant to induce relaxation would just contribute to feelings of low energy and tiredness, but that is not so.
The fact that you can engage in the practice without expending a large amount of energy is probably a major contributor to its benefit. Meditation fights stress, which produces chemical processes in the body that lead to feelings of lethargy. A study by researchers at UCLA found that people who meditate regularly report less fatigue. They also seem to sleep better, which is a huge boon to energy levels.
DRINK A BIG GLASS OF WATER
It is easy to forget to drink enough water throughout the day, and many people are not sufficiently hydrated. A small study that appeared in the Journal of Nutrition in 2012 studied the effects of hydration on 25 women. Some were given enough fluid to achieve optimal hydration levels, while others were induced into a state of mild dehydration through exercise alone or exercise and diuretics that increased urination. Cognitive abilities and mood were tested while exercising and at rest. While the results of most mental tests showed no difference in performance based on the level of hydration, those who had less fluid intake reported headaches, inability to focus, fatigue and low mood in both scenarios.
The most interesting thing about this finding was that the dehydration was very mild, a mere 1% lower than normal. To check your own hydration level, peek at the color of your urine: it should be the color of lemonade. If it’s darker than that, you need more water. While the old maxim about drinking eight glasses of water a day has been widely debunked as a myth, this and other research suggests that maintaining good hydration (if not quite that much!) is healthy. Flagging energy levels can be overcome. But, in order to fight fatigue, you have to make a deliberate effort to engage in strategies that combat it. You can’t just wish for more energy; you have to find a way to create it.