If you’re feeling down for the count, there are many ways you can reenergize and get going again, physically and mentally.
Advice on boosting your energy has to start with exercise. Most of your body’s cells contain mitochondria, the cells’ power plant. These cellular components produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a chemical that your body uses for energy.
Basically, as an exercise session starts and builds up, your brain signals for more ATP. Since ATP is stored in mitochrondria, the brain signal increases production of both. More microscopic batteries in your body translate to more energy.
If you’re out of shape, start slowly and gradually build up your tolerance for exercise over time. Be patient. Aerobic walking for at least 20 minutes several times a week is a good way to start. But make sure you’re trying to walk fast enough to achieve aerobic benefits.
At the same time, take an inventory of your diet. Chances are you’re not eating enough of the foods that are known to help boost energy. Make sure you’re eating enough foods from the four main groups: starches (carbs), fruits and vegetables, milk and other dairy foods and non-dairy protein such meat fish and beans.
Also pay attention to the way you eat and drink; include breakfast, consume the right foods at regular intervals, and drink plenty of water.
You may not usually think this way, but you can build up and maintain physical energy if you pay attention to your psychic energy. Take laughter. Many studies have found that the more you laugh, the better you feel. It gives you more energy.
Beyond laughter, improving most any mind-body connection will help you increase energy. “The human brain is in fact a glutton, constantly demanding 20 percent of all the energy the body produces and requiring only 5 to 10 percent more energy than usual when someone solves calculus problems or reads a book,” according to a report in Scientific American.
The antidote to this energy drain caused by the brain is more downtime. "Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets," essayist Tim Kreider wrote in The New York Times.
"The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done."
Such breaks from the “grind,” as you know it, can also include deliberate focus on relaxation and stress reduction through meditation, yoga, and other practices that encourage you to connect your mind and your body.
“All mindfulness meditations can lead you to feel more energized because they help to reduce your worrying thoughts, to accept rather than fight the present-moment’s experience and often ease muscular tension as a side effect,” says the “Mindfulness Workbook for Dummies.”
Other recommendations include letting in some sun, simply going outside, altering your routine, making sure you’re getting enough sleep (conversely, figuring out why you’re not), singing loudly, doing something stimulating, and stretching. The common theme across all these suggestions is change and controlling tension.
“Boredom and agitation are connected to energy states. Boredom is associated with low levels of energy and agitation with high levels of energy,” “For Dummies” says.
If you like coffee, you’ll love this: drink it, but not too much. One cup will do to boost energy, according to a study on long-haul truck drivers.
On the other hand, stay away from so-called energy drinks, some of which have as much as 505 milligrams of caffeine per bottle. That’s just plain ridiculous, if not dangerous. A typical cup of coffee has about 80 milligrams.
Increasing your energy is a matter of applied thoughtfulness, if not work. Downing a potential heart attack in a bottle is not the answer.
August 10, 2015
Janet O’Dell, RN