This is based on one of Kathleen’s articles published in Natural Awakenings magazine.
Most of us complain of lack of energy on occasion and some of us experience it on a daily basis. The good news: There are natural ways to boost your energy without resorting to endless cups of coffee.
Low energy can have a number of underlying factors, but poor diet and stress are probably the most common causes.
A solid healthy diet may be the key ingredient to high energy in the long term and even for short-term energy dips. A diet rich in antioxidant-rich vegetables, healthy carbs, low-fat proteins and healthy fats will not only keep energy levels high, it’s a key to long-term health, according to Christine Gerbstadt, M.D., R.D. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“If you think of getting energy from a cup of coffee or a candy bar, it’s just a quick boost that doesn’t last very long,” says Dr. Gerbstadt, author of The Doctor’s Detox Diet. “The kind of energy you get from complex carbs and whole grains will really stay with you.”
Adding a little protein, like a piece of low-fat cheese or a dollop of peanut butter on a whole grain cracker will keep energy steady for even longer.
That mid-afternoon energy drop may be due to a blood sugar dip, says Dr. Gerbstadt. The carb/protein plan works well at these times as well or a cup of green tea might just hit the spot
“Green tea does have some caffeine, but it has literally hundreds of antioxidants, like epigallocathechin gallate (EGCG) that boost metabolism and stoke the metabolic fires,” adds Dr. Gerbstadt.
Stress is almost always an underlying cause of fatigue and who doesn’t experience some stress these days?
“Stress is one of the biggest energy zappers of physical, emotional and spiritual energy,” says Jon Gordon, of Jacksonville, Florida, author of The Energy Bus and consultant to a wide array of Fortune 500 companies, sports teams, hospitals and schools.
All of our experts are strong proponents of exercise as an energy booster—and for stress management, since the two so often go hand in hand.
Gordon’s prime recommendation for stress management and boosting energy? It’s a combination of exercise and emotional balancing: “You can’t be under stress and thankful at the same time,” he says. “So take a ‘thank you’ walk every day and get the benefits of the physical exercise as well as shifting my emotions to a more positive state.”
Judith Orloff, M.D., author of Positive Energy agrees on the exercise component of energy boosting. “Walking mediations are joyous exercises in mindfulness, putting one foot in front of the other, being in the Now, setting your figuring out mind aside to be replenished by the energy of the air, greenery and nature.”
The 3-Minute Meditation
from Judith Orloff, M.D., author of Positive Energy
“I practice this short meditation throughout the day to calm myself, become more energized and clear. For just three minutes I close my eyes, focus on my breath, then focus on a positive image. I focus on the night sky reflected in a body of water. These mini tune-ups will get you back to yourself so you are centered and clear to continue your day.”
Take a break
A small break from the workday can help increase energy and re-focus attention to the tasks at hand. Getting away from the computer screen to weed the garden for ten minutes or to take a quick turn around the block can turn reverse low energy quickly.
Dr. Orloff adds another tip: “Also laughter gives a big energy boost. Do not take everything so seriously. Take a laughter break. Be silly. Have fun.”
Supplements for energy
Since most of us have less-than-perfect diets, certain supplements may also help with energy levels and overall health. Dr. Gerbstadt recommends vitamin D for those who don’t spend much time in the sun to enhance immune function, fish oil for non-fish eaters to for heart and brain health and all B vitamins to support natural energy production.
Choose your friends wisely
Most of us have encountered someone who drains our energy. In her book, Positive Energy, Dr. Orloff offers a simple ways to recognize what she calls “Emotional Vampires:” “Your eye lids get heavy, you feel like taking a nap. Draw boundaries by learning that “no” is a complete sentence.
She also identifies “Drama Queens” who always have a crisis: “Do not encourage a drama queen by asking him/her how they are.”
And to deal with chatterboxes, Dr. Orloff suggests, “With a chronic talker you must politely interrupt, as hard as that skill may be to learn.”