Having an abundance of energy and vitality is one of the main keys to achieving better health.
Think about it, if you’re feeling fatigued and sluggish, you’re more likely to pick the sugary drink or treat over a healthy one, comfort eating sounds like a great idea; hitting the gym not so much – and, it’s been shown that even willpower is lower when our energy is.
Raising energy is, therefore, one of the ways you can help cement your healthy habits like eating well and exercising – and, in a nice healthy ‘circle of life’ kind of fashion, those healthy habits will then help raise your energy over the long term.
Next thing you know you look like her!
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So How Do You Raise Energy?
Well, there are lots of ways, but as you may know, we like to find the more surprising solutions to problems here on The Wellness Nerd – so here are 25 energy boosters you might not have tried before.
Nutritional Ways to Raise Energy
We run on the calories and nutrients in the foods and drinks we eat so it’s not news that what you eat and drink can affect how energised you feel.
1. Know Your Carb Response
Your body’s primary source of fuel is carbohydrates – so if you’re tired, you might be tempted to reach for more of them – but hold on.
If you’re sensitive to carbs, too many of the wrong carbohydrates can lead to sudden peaks and troughs in energy that leave you feeling sluggish rather than raring to go.
If this sounds like you, try reducing (or even eliminating) starchy carb portions at breakfast or lunch. That means things like rice, bread, pasta and potatoes – not fresh vegetables and fruit and swap to wholegrains rather than white carbs when you do eat them.
If you need to find some new ideas for how to do this, visit our post on 33 ways to swap carbs for fruit and veggies.
Eat carbs at night though – this can help you sleep better.
2. Try an Anti-inflammatory Diet
These have made news for their abilities to potentially reduce painful problems like arthritis, but, they’ve also been shown to reduce some forms of fatigue.
General rules include eating more fruits and vegetables, more oily fish and other sources of omega-3 fats like nuts, seeds and olive oil and plenty of herbs and spices like turmeric and ginger.
A great book to get you started on an anti-flam plan is Health Revolution by Maria Borelius which tells how she used the diet to get over her own health slump, ‘it revolutionised my health,’ she told me when I interviewed her for Australian Women’s Health magazine. ‘Muffin top melted down, back ache gone, minor depression lifted.’
3. Don’t Rely on Energy Drinks
Yes, the science shows that they pep you up briefly but research from the UK’s Loughborough University also found that within an hour after drinking them, people actually had worse concentration and reflexes than before.
4. Look in the Loo
I know, I know – but it’s the fastest way to tell if you’re dehydrated – and dehydration lowers energy.
If your pee is anything darker than a light straw colour you need a drink.
5. Turn Back Your Eyelid
Another useful test.
Here you’re looking see what colour the skin is.
If it’s very pale pink or white, this can be a sign that you’re low in iron – and one of the most common side effects of this is lowered energy.
This can happen if you don’t eat enough iron, or if you have issues like heavy periods that lower your reserves.
Start first by increasing iron-rich foods in your diet. These include red meat and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale and its less bitter cousin kalettes.
Combine these with sources of vitamin C (red peppers, citrus fruit, blueberries, kiwis – or kiwi berries) as this helps your body absorb iron more effectively.
If things don’t improve, consider a multivitamin, or speak to your doctor about whether you need to test your iron levels. Don’t take individual iron supplements without speaking to your GP. first
If you have other symptoms like shortness of breath, cold hands and feet and thinning hair, then maybe see your GP sooner rather than later as these can be signs of a more severe iron deficiency that might need special supplements.
6. Try Ashwagandha
Talking of supplements – if you’re looking for supplements that raise energy, those in the adaptogen family can help.
There are over 70 different adaptogenic herbs out there but ashwagandha is a favourite. It’s one of the most widely used herbs in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional herbal medicine of India. It’s known as a ‘tonic’ herb and is said to have an overall rejuvenating effect – helping to protect and support the nervous system and immune system as well as improving energy.
The other benefit of ashwagandha is that it doesn’t leave you feeling jangly like some other energising herbs can do.
The way you think and act can drain you or energise you – so try these tips to get a more energised mindset.
7. Listen to Your Gut
If someone asks you to do something and you don’t want to, it’s just going to hang over your head draining you mentally and physically.
Listen to your instincts and don’t be afraid to say no when they’re telling you you should.
8. Energy Audit
If you’re not sure what makes you feel good and what doesn’t, energy expert Sean Hall from Energx suggests keeping an energy diary so you can see patterns in what increases your vitality and what drains it.
“In every moment we have a choice. We can choose to make energy vampire decisions that deplete us and the people around us. Or we can choose to be an Energist by making decisions which expand our energy and the energy of others,” he explains.
Once you’ve spotted your energisers and drainers he says to bookend draining tasks with energising ones to keep your reserves high. ‘It’s also a good idea to start your day with an energising task to set your mood for the day,’ he told us.
9. Tick Something Off Your To Do List
But not just any old thing – that thing that’s been on it for ages that you keep putting off.
A psychological effect called the Zeigarnik effect means your brain can’t forget about these and they chip away at your mental energy.
Once it’s gone you’ll feel like a weight is lifted.
10. Do Things You Love
How many ings are in your day today? Cycl-ing, walk-ing, sing-ing. Do-ing things you enjoy will make you happier and more vibrant.
Make time every day to do something that makes you heart sing and your energy will soar.
11. Gaze at the Sky
When we do absolutely nothing a part of our brain called the Default Mode Network switches on.
This is like the brain’s filing system and, switching it on during the day lets the brain gets jobs done. If you don’t switch it on, the network does its job at night which its believed leads to less restful sleep – and lowered energy.
The problem is, we rarely do absolutely nothing any more as we tend to fill downtime time on our phones – and while that might seem mindless, it isn’t.
Switch off totally for 1-2 minutes every couple of hours by just staring out the window, at the sky or even at the ceiling to let your brain do its filing – you’ll feel far more refreshed for it – and you could find you sleep more deeply too.
12. Start Off With a Power Song
People who wake up to a tune that makes them feel happy or motivated start their day more energised. Pick a favourite , or try one of these tunes.
13. Clear Up Clutter
Seeing clutter has numerous negative effects on our health – including raising stress and slowing brain function both of which can make us feel drained and sluggish.
It’s also been shown that people sleep less effectively if they are surrounded with clutter.
If you haven’t already joined the Marie Kondo club, now could be the time to start.
If you’re tidying up your home, try her original book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
If you want to rearrange your workplace, or your digital life, then try the second book.
It’s called Joy at Work: Organising Your Professional Life
After reading that I now clean my office every Monday morning and it changes everything about how positive and energised I feel about the week ahead.
14. Use Your Power Hours
We all have times when we’re naturally more alert, they’re governed by our biological clock that keeps time within us.
Timing your day so you do your most difficult tasks when your energy is high and less demanding jobs when its low helps you work with your rhythm not against it leaving your feel more energised and positive.
If you aren’t sure when your power hour is, this quiz by leading sleep specialist Dr Michael Breus can help you determine things.
If you already know it’s the morning, you might find that getting a morning routine helps you out. Check out this post on how to create one without compromising on your sleep.
Exercise and Energy
There’s no doubt that exercise wakes us up – but if you’re fatigued, it’s usually the last thing you want to do. Here’s a few rules to help get the balance right…
15. Slow Things Down
Vigorous exercise can leave you feeling energised – but, it’s not the best approach if you’re already tired.
According to a study by The University of Georgia, if you’re tired, low-intensity exercise like walking raises energy more effectively than going all out. It restores you without fatiguing you further.
If you want some fun ways to liven up your walk, you’ll find 23 suggestions here.
16. Exercise in the Daylight
The more natural light you get in your day, the more balanced your circadian rhythm and the more your energy level and sleep patterns balance.
Even sitting by the window at home or work helps, but doing your exercise first thing, or at lunchtime, outside in natural light therefore creates a double whammy.
17. Try a Gratitude Walk
Low mood will drag down energy but one way to generally improve your outlook on life is to try thinking about things you’re grateful for.
You can do this sitting at your desk – but a gratitude walk powers up the process.
If walking is your thing, you might also want to try a colour walk where you try and spot different colours – picking one like yellow could also help improve your mood.
18. Leave Your Tracker at Home
Dr Alex Soojung Kim Pang, author of the book Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less once told me that trackers can add stress to our workouts that can reduce its restorative powers.
Every now and again, do your workout with no tracker. Do what your body wants to do and let it restore your energy.
Instant Energy Boosts
If you need a quick energy fix you might reach for sugar or coffee but of which pep you up briefly, but then cause energy to crash. Instead of reaching for these, try one of these instant energisers.
Spend a couple of minutes skipping around the room raising your opposite arm and leg super high (like this).
Sounds daft but experts at San Franciso University found it does raise energy – and changes moods – fast.
Just 2-3 minutes was enough to get results in their study.
20. Play Some Music
Up-tempo music played at a higher volume, creates a similar wake-up effect as a cup of coffee say music researchers.
Another study showed that music of 120-140 bpm with energising lyrics can improve your exercise energy enough to keep you going for 15 per cent longer than normal.
It’s like a superpower in your headphones.
21. Try Superbrain Yoga
It claims to clear a foggy head in as little as two minutes and neurobiologists have actually seen brain activity fire up on MRI scans in people doing the move.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab your right earlobe with the thumb and forefinger of your left hand. Place your arm against your chest and now grab the left earlobe with your right hand in the same way. Lay your right arm on your left.
Do a squat move and as you do, breathe in.
Stand up while you breathe out.
Continue this motion synchronizing your breathing with the squats for 1-3 minutes.
IF you’re more into, moving yoga, have a look at this post on using yoga to boost weight loss which gives some ideas of my energising and metabolism raising moves to try.
22. Watch Videos of People Yawning
It’ll start you yawning too and it’s believed that the act of opening the jaw wide as you yawn actually triggers cool blood to get to your brain energizing you and boosting attention.
23. Try an Energising Breath
According to breathwork expert Alan Dolan, ‘Most people with low energy do not inhale enough air in one go to fully oxygenate their system.’
To breathe more deeply – try expanding your lungs so your stomach pops out as you inhale and pushing it back when you exhale (the opposite to what most of us do) will help – but, to quickly raise energy Dolan suggests doing a specific type of breath.
‘I call it the We Will Rock You Breath as it sounds like the drumbeat on the Queen track,’ he says.
To do it, take two inhalations in succession, then emit a ‘one beat sigh’ exhale. Keep repeating for 3 minutes. Make sure you are comfortable and that you feel relaxed as you breathe. The main thing with this one is to breathe continuously ie with no pauses between the inhales and exhales.
For more breath guidance check out Alan’s Breath Guru app here.
24. Sniff a Power Scent
Peppermint, rosemary and citrus scents have all been shown to pep up your energy levels or mental clarity.
You can buy individual aromatherapy oils for these, but I also swear by all the products in the Aromatherapy Associates range.
They do specific energy blends for the time of day so if you want to rev yourself up first thing in the morning pick up their Aromatherapy Associates Revive Morning Bath & Shower Oil
If it’s more an evening thing, you’re going out for dinner and need a lift, but don’t want to stay up all night try Aromatherapy Associates Revive Evening Bath and Shower Oil
25. Tap The Top of Your Head
Tapping acupressure points associated with energy helped wake up sleepy students in a trial at the University of Michigan.
One of the easiest to reach is the crown of your head. Just tap it for a minute or two and feel your energy rise.
So there you have it 25 ways to help raise energy that maybe you haven’t heard about before. Next time you’re in an energy slump give one of them a try to lift yourself out it.
So there you have it, some great ways to raise your energy. If you like this post, you’ll probably like some of the others in our how to series – you’ll find them all here.
Or, if you think your low energy is related to poor sleep, why not go straight to our post on how to fall asleep faster.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.