Everyone knows that a healthy diet and regular exercise are the ingredients for tip-top energy levels. But there’s a whole host of other tricks to try, too…
1. Do things you love – often
Whatever makes you tick, make an effort to do more of it. Whether that’s stroking a favourite pet, admiring the sunset or hunting down bargains at a boot fair – doing things you love will supercharge your energy levels. According to Confucius, the Chinese philosopher, ‘choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’. So, the luckiest people pinpoint their passions and have made a career out of them. Take Emily Rotter, 37, a singer and Rockabye Music teacher from Kent. ‘Hauling myself out of bed in the morning, feeling uncomfortable as I’m currently pregnant with my fourth child, and then getting my daughters to school can be a challenge,’ she says. ‘But I adore my job running music classes for babies. The gummy smiles I get always mean I’m in a good mood – and re-energised – within minutes.’
2. Laugh out loud more
Another way to move you out of sluggish mode? Try to see the funny side of things. ‘The effects of laughter on the body are very similar to those of exercise,’ says Margot. ‘When you laugh, you release happy hormones called endorphins. Your heart rate goes up, your blood starts pumping and you get more oxygen to your brain – which makes you more alert. The psychology of laughing makes you feel the world’s OK around you – and when you feel that, you’re much more motivated to get out there and do more.’ So, whatever gives you a giggle-fix – cute dancing cat videos online, a favourite comedy TV show or just swapping some juicy gossip with a friend – search it out, get on with it and become re-energised instantly.
3. Take a deep breath
Obviously everyone breathes automatically, but do you breathe properly? Stress can make you take short, shallow breaths – which means you’re not taking in enough oxygen. And that, in turn, will zap you of energy. Get into the habit of practising some proper breathing. This tip from life coach, Margot Bloom, of expert advice website www.greatvine.com takes a few minutes a day. ‘Breathe in through your nose, push your stomach out and very slowly blow out through your mouth. This specific technique will allow oxygen to flow into your muscles. Plus, because you’re bringing the oxygen down into your stomach, you activate your lymphatic system (part of the circulatory system that removes and destroys waste) – which strengthens your immune system.’ Margot recommends doing this exercise at least six times a day.
4. Talk to an energetic friend
Chances are, you’ve got a friend or family member whose downbeat personality drains the energy from you. So try to balance them out with some energetic people, too. You’ll find their enthusiasm catching – it’s called emotional contagion. Jacqueline Hunter, a 41-year old supermarket assistant from north Lanarkshire, knows this. ‘My friend, Mark, doesn’t live near me, but talking to him via webcam always lifts my spirits. He’s got such a positive outlook on life, and I find our chats really motivating, especially when I’m feeling down for whatever reason. In fact, he’s made me feel so good, he’s now my boyfriend!’
5. Wear bright colours
‘Next time you feel sluggish, ditch your usual drab outfits for something more zingy – ideally, orange,’ says Margot Bloom, of expert advice website www.greatvine.com Experts say it’s the colour most likely to spark up your sense of excitement and passion. People tend to reflect energy back at others, so you may also find that your interactions are more energised, too. Think of the reactions you get when you’re dressed in something drab and sombre like black, then compare it to an orange outfit day.
6. Crank up a favourite music track
Ever noticed the invigorating effect of a much-loved song blasting out of the radio? This is because music causes your brain to release more dopamine, a chemical that can set your mood. A 2003 study at Penn State University, US, backs this up. For a fortnight, students were asked to note their moods before and after listening to music. ‘Not only did our sample of students report more positive emotions after listening to music, but their already positive emotions were hugely intensified by listening to music,’ said university researcher, Valerie Stratton. And when it comes to songs, the cheesier – and pop-ier – the better. ‘For instant energising, nothing beats a high-volume blast of rock band Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now after a long, crazy day at work,’ confides secondary school teacher, Sarah Wilde, 32, from Manchester. ‘Even though I’m shattered, some silly dancing really does the trick.’
7. Up your iron intake
If you feel tired a lot, can’t concentrate and your energy levels have slumped, it could be that you’re not getting enough iron in your diet. The Department of Health (www.dh.gov.uk) estimates that 91% of women between the ages of 19 and 64 are consuming less than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iron (18mg). It’s an essential mineral that helps produce red blood cells, which transport oxygen around the body. Iron-rich foods include liver, meat, nuts, beans and lentils, dried fruit, dark green leafy vegetables and wholegrains such as brown rice. If you find it hard to get enough iron in your everyday diet, there are good quality supplements on the market that can also help. Spatone (www.spatone.com), for example, is a unique, 100% natural iron liquid supplement, containing spa water from Snowdonia National Park. Just one sachet a day will do the trick. Women who have heavy periods need to be particularly aware of eating more iron-rich foods (such as spinach and broccoli) – even more so if they’re vegetarians or vegans, as they won’t be getting iron intake from meat. Pregnant women also need a higher RDA of iron – 27mg.
8. Surround yourself with scents
Being in the midst of the right scents can be a real pick-me-up. Studies show that lavender can uplift moods, while rosemary, jasmine and the scents from citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes can sharpen alertness. Grapefruit’s often used in natural medicine to improve moods, too, and eucalyptus oil’s been reported to boost brain wave activity when it’s breathed in. Get a speedy brain boost – and make your home smell amazing – with aromatherapy oils, which are concentrated plant essences or essential oils. Ashleigh & Burwood (www.ashleigh-burwood.co.uk) offers the ultimate in relaxation products. The essential oil lamps and reed diffusers provide a sense of wellbeing. If you’re applying aromatherapy oils to yourself, it’s a good idea to dilute them first with a carrier oil or drop of lukewarm water.
9. Take a soak
Feeling a little lonely of recent? A long, hot bath can wash away your worries as well as keep you clean, according to studies. It comes down to temperature: ‘The “coldness” of loneliness or rejection can be treated somewhat successfully through application of physical warmth,’ say researchers at Yale University, America. Love and support from friends and family causes a ‘warm’ physical sensation, and the warmth of a bath can emulate that social feeling. For an added dose of relaxation, pour some Radox Bath Smoothies Soul Soother into your tub (available in the Radox Smoothies Three Piece Collection, £3.50,
10. Look over old photos
Next time you’re feeling a little blue, swap the glass of chilled wine for family photo albums. When it comes to mood-boosters, the Open University (www.open.ac.uk) discovered that viewing pictures of loved ones was the ultimate pick-me-up. People who flipped through old pictures felt 11% better – compared to those who watched TV or supped alcohol, who experienced only a 1% lift in their mood. Keep a photo or two of friends and family on your desk at work – ideal for a much-needed boost during a stressful day.
11. Lock lips
Don’t wait until National Kissing Day (which falls on 6 July) to pucker up, regular kissing has manifold benefits for your body and mindset alike. Not only does smooching release lots of dopamine into the bloodstream – the chemical responsible for your brain’s pleasure centre – but research has shown that kissing regularly reduces cholesterol in both men and women. And there may be more truth to English poet Rupert Brooke’s remark: ‘A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years’ than once thought. You use a remarkable 30 muscles while kissing, say researchers, which helps keep your cheeks tight, firm and more youthful-looking.
12. Balance your body
Getting your body in alignment and balanced, doesn’t mean being able to stand on one leg, it refers to your spiritual equilibrium. Muscle pain, sleeping disorders and anxiety can all cause stress for your body – so it’s important to work out the cause of such conditions rather than looking at the symptoms. Spiritual practices such as yoga and Pilates, for instance, have been shown to change your brain structure, and consequently promote a sense of wellbeing. ‘No matter how frazzled I feel when I arrive at Pilates, I know that an hour later I’ll feel calm yet energised,’ says Terri Doyle, 52, a journalist from Barnet. ‘It’s amazing. The moves are tiny but they’re truly challenging and I’ve noticed a real improvement in my core strength even in the short time I’ve been attending the weekly classes.’ While these spiritual practices can help you achieve more stress-free lives, a therapy known as TimeWaver Frequency – available at the Orassy Quantum Spa & Research Centre (www.orassyquantumspa.com) and known as the newest healthcare innovation in the UK – can also access your body’s internal regulatory mechanisms. Working on a cellular level, the micro current frequencies it sends out are able to analyse blockages on physical – as well as psychological and emotional – levels and, as a result, can stimulate regeneration to the cells that are the cause of the problems.
‘I lift my mood by doing lots of exercise. I go for long walks, cycle or do some gardening and I believe it has all improved my metabolism. I also take a multivitamin every day and eat as much fruit and veg as I can.’