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How To Have More Energy: 13 Steps You Can Take Today
This article has been written by experts and fact-checked by experts, including licensed nutritionists, dietitians or medical professionals. The information in the article is based on scientific studies and research.
It is designed to be honest, unbiased and objective, and opinions from both sides of an argument are presented wherever there is disagreement.
The scientific references in this article (marked by 1, 2, 3, etc.) are clickable links to peer-reviewed research material on the subject being discussed.
Two very different circumstances might cause you to search for ways to have more energy.
One is if you’re generally feeling rundown; there are many possible causes for that. They include age, medical conditions or illnesses, depression, hormone imbalances, and nutritional deficiencies.
A long-term decline in normal energy levels almost always calls for a visit to a healthcare and/or mental health professional before taking other steps.
The other type of energy deficiency? Most of us are familiar with that one.
It’s the problem we have to deal with in the morning, when we were drinking alcohol the night before and haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep. It’s the problem when the boss tells us we have to work late for the third night in a week. It’s the problem that leads to exhaustion after a few days of juggling complicated work and family issues.
Those situations don’t call for medical advice. They call for a quick energy boost that helps you fight fatigue.
We’ll discuss long-term energy in a bit, but let’s talk first about how to have more energy in a hurry.
9 Quick Ways to Have More Energy
We’ll start with the method that more than one-third of all Americans between the ages of 18 and 49 rely on. That’s right, energy drinks.
1. Energy Drinks
The primary reason why energy drinks are able to provide a quick energy boost is no secret: it’s caffeine.
The most popular energy drinks contain between 115 and 300 milligrams of caffeine, which is anywhere between three and ten times the amount of caffeine that there is in a can of soda.
Caffeine provides an immediate pick-me-up that peaks in an hour and can last several more. A lot of caffeine provides an even more powerful boost – but it’s important to not overdo it. Once you get more than 400mg of caffeine a day you’re risking caffeine toxicity, which typically causes jitters and insomnia, and possibly even headache, anxiety, increased heart rate and chest pain.
There are other supplements in energy drinks, of course. Collagen and ginseng can contribute to alertness, focus, muscle recovery and mood, and B vitamins may help the body best utilize the glucose it gets from dietary carbs.
One other ingredient you’ll find in almost all energy drinks is sugar – and lots of it. That’s a double-edged sword, though.
Sugar doesn’t really increase available energy. It elevates mood, which is why you get the well-known “sugar boost” after half an hour or so. Within an hour, however, sugar actually slows the body’s energy production, which causes the equally well-known “sugar crash.”
Put all of that together, and you’ll understand why the energy drinks that give you quick, effective energy contain caffeine but not sugar. We happen to like Super Energy from the people who produce Super Coffee; they use monk fruit extract and stevia instead of sugar, for a longer-lasting supply of energy.
What about energy shots? They do basically the same thing as energy drinks but in a much smaller drink, making the danger of overdoing the caffeine even greater.
Most people who don’t reach for an energy drink when they’re fighting a lack of energy reach instead for a cup of coffee.
An eight-ounce cup contains about 90 milligrams of caffeine, much less than a powerful can of Monster, Bang or Rockstar. However, coffee’s temporary ability to ease tiredness and boost focus is familiar to tens of millions of us, whether we’re trying to shake off sleepiness in the morning or combat mid-afternoon low energy levels.
If you prefer tea, it’s a poor second choice. Tea is just as good for your health as coffee (both have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, for example) but it contains less than half the amount of caffeine. Its energy boost will last for a much shorter period.
3. A Glass of Water – or Two
This won’t get everyone energized, but you’d be surprised how many peoples’ lack of energy is caused by not drinking enough water.
Drinking water every hour or two can prevent dehydration from cropping up and bringing you down. But downing a couple of glasses can quickly relieve the decrease in energy caused by poor hydration. Even walking to the fridge or water fountain can help wake you up a little.
Speaking of which…
If you need more energy during the workday, the boss probably isn’t going to let you head to the gym for a workout whenever you’re feeling tired.
That’s OK. Taking a ten-minute break for a brisk walk outside can work wonders. A few minutes of yoga or just pacing around the office while thinking about a thorny problem will usually help as well.
That’s because any type of exercise delivers oxygen-rich blood and nutrients to the heart, brain, muscles and other parts of the body. Extra oxygen helps the cardiovascular system and lungs work more efficiently, providing extra energy.
And needless to say, physical activity is also great for overall health.
5. Have a Snack – But Not Just Any Snack
Grabbing a candy bar from the machine might perk you up, but not for long.
We’ve already mentioned why anything loaded with sugar will give you the illusion of extra energy for a little while but will quickly lead to a sugar crash.
Instead, snack on a combination of carbohydrates and protein. It could be crackers and cheese, peanut butter on a slice of bread (whole grains are best), a few handfuls of pistachio or macadamia nuts (they contain lots of both macronutrients) or a protein bar.
Why carbs and protein? Hunger makes a problem with low energy worse, so protein helps keep you full. Carbs provide your body with additional energy.
(And to prevent hunger from tiring you out during the day, the best gift you can give yourself is a good breakfast that includes protein, fiber, and fruit.)
6. Scents Make Sense
There’s a good reason why experts suggest aromatherapy for enhanced energy. Peppermint, spearmint, lemon, eucalyptus and rosemary are among the essential oils that have been shown to relieve fatigue and improve focus.
You may not be somewhere where you can easily fire up an essential oil diffuser, but even sniffing a stick of cinnamon or chewing some peppermint gum can work as energy boosters, reviving flagging attention and providing a brief energy surge.
7. Breathing Exercises
Mindfulness and meditation are great, but those aren’t the only ways that controlled breathing can make you feel better. Just one minute’s worth of deep breathing increases the amount of oxygen in your blood, reduces your heart rate, allows your body to work more efficiently, and relieves stress – giving you the extra energy you need to stay alert and focus.
Here’s a one-minute breathing exercise that can do the trick. Slowly take five deep breaths, with each inhale lasting two seconds. Each time you breathe out, increase the length of the exhale by one second. The first exhale will last two seconds, the second will last three seconds, and so on.
A minute later, you’ll feel more rejuvenated and energetic.
8. Open the Shades
Studies have shown that the amount of light exposure people receive is directly related to their vitality. If you customarily work (or live) in a dark room, that environment can negatively impact your energy level.
Open the shades or blinds, or if that’s not possible, turn on more lights. Even better, go outside for a few minutes if the sun is shining. It could vastly improve your mood and productivity.
9. Take a Nap
We know that most people aren’t fortunate enough to be able to lie down for a power nap whenever they feel their energy flagging. If you’re one of the lucky ones, though, a 20-minute nap is enough to recharge your batteries.
Don’t nap for much longer than that, however. Once you get into a deep sleep you’ll feel drowsy or sluggish when you wake up.
How to Have More Long-Term Energy
We mentioned at the start that a constant problem with energy may indicate a medical or mental health issue that should be discussed with a professional.
If those issues have been ruled out and you’re searching for ways to rediscover lost energy, here are a few suggestions.
1. Adjust Your Sleep Schedule
You may not be getting enough sleep – or you may be getting too much.
You read that right. Many people don’t need eight hours of sleep each night, and the extra shuteye may be poor-quality sleep time that drains their energy.
Here’s how to re-calibrate. Start by going to bed a few hours later than usual and sleeping for just five hours. The next day, evaluate how you slept and how you feel. If you slept well and feel rested, you may only need five hours per night. If you slept soundly but are still tired, add another 30 minutes the next night.
Keep doing that until you find the amount of sleep that lets you stay asleep through the night and feel refreshed in the morning. Then reset your circadian rhythm, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
Most people find that adjusting their sleep schedule boosts their energy level dramatically.
2. Alter Your Diet
Try focusing on low-carb foods with a high glycemic index (GI). Their sugar is absorbed slowly by the body, which spreads the energy boost they provide more evenly throughout the day.
Some of the foods to substitute for sweets and junk food: whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds. That doesn’t mean avoiding all the “yummy stuff,” just eating a lot less of it.
There are added health benefits to eating a healthy diet that includes lots of high GI foods, of course. They include lower insulin and blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, and best of all, weight loss.
As with any drastic change in diet, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor or a nutritionist first.
3. You Know the Drill on Smoking and Alcohol
If you smoke or drink a lot of alcohol, you don’t need someone else nagging you about it, so we won’t. Both can impact your long-term energy levels, though.
Nicotine is a stimulant, so it increases blood pressure and heart rate and speeds up brain activity. Those all cause you to use up your stores of energy more quickly. Alcohol’s sedative effects, by contrast, can be a problem if you imbibe before you need to be full of pep. If energy’s become an issue, restrict drinking to the hours after you’re done for the day.
4. Lower Stress Levels
It’s not surprising that many peoples’ low energy is caused by high stress. For some, it’s a byproduct of anxiety issues that may call for the help of a therapist. But juggling multiple jobs or responsibilities can quickly drain anyone’s energy unless they’re superhuman.
Easing that sort of stress isn’t easy, needless to say. It’s a necessity, however, for those who are being dragged down by the demands of work, family and everyday life. Speak with family members, friends, or supervisors to see how you might be able to reduce the demands that are stressing you out.
Lowering stress levels isn’t just a way to have more energy. It could be essential for your long-term health.