A common struggle for most of my clients has been related to overall feelings of tiredness and a struggle to find enough energy to cook or become more active. There are several different strategies to combat the sensation of exhaustion, and so today we'll be going over what all you can do to boost your energy levels so that you may improve your overall health and wellness.
Sleep is the one of the primary culprits of chronic fatigue. Even if you are in bed for the appropriate amount of time, your sleep may not be restful or you may have an ongoing sleep debt that needs to be recuperated before you will see benefits from improved habits. I discussed this topic including strategies to improve your sleep hygiene on last week's post, All About Sleep.
The next major factor which helps decide your overall energy levels is your nutrition.
Limiting the amount of processed food you eat will help ensure that you are consuming a greater mix of nutrients. Studies show that three-fourths of the average American's diet includes moderately (15.9%) to highly processed (61%) foods and beverages. The amount of convenience food we eat is ever-increasing, and it's affecting our overall health.
Eating foods and consuming beverages low on the glycemic index will help prevent sugar crash or reactive hypoglycemia. High-GI foods contain simple sugars and starches that are quickly processed. After these have been absorbed, you may feel a sense of tiredness, lethargy, irritation or even hangover. Avoid white bread, pasta and rice as well as breakfast cereals, yogurt etc with added sugars; eat whole grains and complex carbohydrates with high fiber (5 or more grams per serving).
Include protein with your carbs to maintain sustained energy throughout the day. Protein helps control blood sugar levels, thus assisting in preventing sugar spikes and crashes. Great energy-boosting snacks are those with both carbohydrates and protein in a balanced mix.
Try making whole fruit-and-veggie smoothies to boost nutrient and fiber consumption -- I recommend trying the 7-Day Green Smoothie Challenge. Bear in mind that these still contain sugar and calories, but these recipes are solid, tasty and packed with vitamins. The challenge (which is FREE) even includes a shopping list for the week and a guidebook to help you along the way.
Use caffeine to your advantage, but don't overdo it as it may cause insomnia (especially if consumed after 2 PM) and lead to dehydration as it is a diuretic. Caffeine provides an energy boost, but too much and you may get the jitters. Avoid energy drinks as they are often laden with sugar -- sometimes as much as 10 teaspoons per serving.
Limit your alcohol consumption as it is a sedative that is particularly strong at midday. When you drink, do so in moderation at a time when you don't mind winding down.
I've mentioned foods you should avoid above, but here are some things that you should eat:
I talked all about hydration in a prior post. Believe it or not, this plays a role in your energy levels! Review A Hydration How-To for more information.
Exercise helps you sleep more soundly at night, and also gives your cells more energy to burn while also circulating oxygen throughout your body. When you work out, your body produces epinephrine and norepinephrine, stress hormones which in modest amounts can make you feel energized. You don't need to join a gym to reap the benefits, though: even a brisk walk around the neighborhood is a good starting place for boosting your energy.
STRESS AND OVERWORK
Stress-induced emotions consume vast amounts of energy. If you cannot reduce your level of stress, consider the following suggestions for management:
Working too much is one of the primary culprits of fatigue. You can overwork yourself not just professionally, but also via family and social obligations. Try to work on streamlining your "must do" activities; set your priorities in terms of the most important tasks and pare down those which are less important. You may need to ask for extra help at work, or from your domestic partner or roommate at home. It is important to note that you cannot give 100% of yourself to each of these areas of your life consistently without eventually burning out; something has to give. When considering your priorities, it may be a good idea to discuss with your domestic partner or a good friend.