Are you dealing with another episode of the 3 p.m. doldrums? Can you feel your energy draining and your eyelids starting to droop as the afternoon wears on?
When fatigue drags you down, don't look to a candy bar, cup of coffee, or energy drink for a solution. The sugar and caffeine might give you an immediate pick-me-up, but after that quick high wears off, you'll crash and feel even more drained and groggy than before.
Want to boost energy in a real and lasting way? Here are a few fatigue fighters that will leave you feeling refreshed, revitalized, and ready to take on your day.
1. Eat your breakfast. There’s a reason it’s called the most important meal of the day. A good, nutritious breakfast gives you the energy you need to stay awake and alert. People who eat breakfast every morning report less fatigue and stress than people who skip breakfast. High-fiber foods, like hot oatmeal, will stick with you longer than a sweet roll or pastry. As the day wears on, they'll prevent you from getting hungry, which can also lead to low energy.
2. Do a downward dog. Yoga has so many different health benefits, it's a wonder everyone isn't twisting themselves into pretzels to take advantage of them. Some studies have found that the practice, which uses various postures and deep breathing for exercise and meditation, can be an excellent fatigue fighter.
3. Belt out your favorite tune. There's a reason why it feels so good to sing in the shower. Singing gives you a kind of emotional high while it reduces levels of stress hormones in your body. So grab a hairbrush, put on your favorite song, and sing away. If you're at work and you don't want to face your co-workers' puzzled stares, you might want to save your vocal stylings for the car.
4. Have a drink of water. Your body needs fluid to function properly. Yet you're constantly losing fluid every time you breathe, sweat, and use the bathroom. If you don't replenish those liquids, you can become dehydrated, which can leave you feeling drained and fatigued. You don't necessarily have to follow the "eight glasses a day" rule, but you do want to drink enough water to keep your body well hydrated. You can tell you're well hydrated when you don't feel thirsty and your urine is light-colored. Try to get to the fridge or water cooler for a refill every few hours. The walk there will also help you wake up.
5. Go nuts. Eat a handful of almonds and peanuts, which are high in magnesium and folate (folic acid). These nutrients are essential for energy and cell production. A shortfall of these nutrients in your system can leave you feeling tired and weary.
6. Suck on a cinnamon stick. Cinnamon isn't just for sprinkling into your apple pie. Research finds that just a whiff of this scented spice can reduce fatigue and make you feel more alert. No cinnamon handy? Grab a mint from your bag. Peppermint's sweet aroma is another fatigue fighter.
7. Take the stairs. Exercise is a natural energy booster because whenever you do it, oxygen-rich blood surges through your body to your heart, muscles, and brain. Regularly squeezing a workout into your day -- even if you can only spare 10 minutes at a time -- will help keep your energy levels at their peak. Get up and move every chance you get, even if it's just to pace around in circles while you're talking on the phone.
8. Let the sunshine in. When you go outside on a sunny day, it’s amazing how quickly your outlook starts to change and your energy level improves. Research confirms that just a few minutes of walking outside on a warm, clear day enhances mood, memory, and the ability to absorb new information. Going outside can even improve your self-esteem. If you absolutely can't get out, open the shades and let some of that bright sunshine in.
9. Have a bite. Your brain needs fuel (otherwise known as glucose) to function at its best. When your blood sugar level drops, your mind will start running on fumes and will feel fuzzy as a result. So if you're getting a little shaky and your head is starting to droop, eat a snack that will give you enough energy to take you through the rest of the afternoon. Snacks that combine protein with slow-burning carbs are best for maintaining your blood sugar levels over the long-term. Good examples of energy boosters are a banana spread with peanut butter or granola with fresh berries.
10. Hang out with upbeat friends. Emotions are surprisingly contagious. People who are constantly negative and down can sap your energy, while those who are always up and excited can give you a real lift. Stay away from energy vampires. Instead, surround yourself with friends who share similar goals and interests.