12 natural energy boosters to try today
Reaching for yet another cup of coffee when you've hit that mid-afternoon slump isn't the best solution. We know, it happens to the best of us! You've had a healthy breakfast, maybe even a lunchtime workout, but somehow, by 3pm, you're just flagging. You need a nap, some chocolate, or perhaps some caffeine. Put that mug down and wait a second; we've got 12 natural energy boosters that won't leave you feeling sluggish or negatively impact your health, and you can try one or try them all today!
#1. Chew some gum
It might sound strange, but did you know that chewing mint gum can make you feel more alert and revitalised? A study carried out in the UK in 2012, people who chewed mint gum for 15 minutes felt more alert and focused than those who didn't (1) – don't believe us? Why don't you try it and see if it works for you? Andy Smith PhD, author of the study, explains, “Chewing gum increases heart rate, which increases blood flow to the brain. It also stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which can increase alertness.” Mint is the flavour shown to make you feel the most alert. We're not suggesting you spend all day chewing, but some mint gum after a heavy meal or whenever you feel tired can help – make sure you choose healthy gum though.
#2. Enjoy dates
No, not the kind where you're wined and dined, the fruit kind! Dates are nature's natural sweetener and can be used in all kinds of sweet and savoury recipes, such as our raw energy bites. Dates are packed with glucose – around 30% of their flesh is glucose – but these are natural sugars that are good for you. Did you know that they're also a great source of antioxidants and fibre, which can help to keep you regular? Don't eat them too often or you may notice they contribute to weight gain, but as part of a healthy, balanced diet, they're the perfect energy booster!
#3. Get gardening
If you're at home and feeling lazy and sluggish, get up off the sofa and get gardening. Not only is gardening great for fighting low mood and depression, but the contact of your skin with soil can leave you feeling energised and fight oxidative stress, leaving you more relaxed. Touching earth is grounding, which can help you to let go of negative energy. Plus being outside on a nice day lets you soak up vitamin D from the sun, which can help regulate your body clock and ensure you get a better night's sleep.
#4. Eat wholegrains
We already know that wholegrains are good for us – they're released slowly into the bloodstream for a prolonged energy boost, unlike refined carbs such as white flour and white bread. Wholegrains give you real energy that will last, without the spike and drop of refined carbs. A study in the Journal 'Appetite' revealed that those who replaced three portions of refined carbs a day with wholegrains saw a marked increase in their energy levels. The best time of day to load-up on wholegrains is at breakfast time, when you could enjoy wholegrain cereal or a slice of wholegrain toast with your favourite nut butter. Yum!
#5. Get some light
Lack of sunlight, particularly in the winter months, can lead not only to the condition SAD, but also to lack of energy and generally low mood for many of us. If you find yourself feeling sleepier when the light fades mid-afternoon, why not invest in a blue bulb for your desk? The Lighting Research Centre in New York carried out a study in 2013 (2) which revealed that blue light makes you more calm and focused, whilst red light makes you edgy and alert. So install a blue bulb in your desk lamp to keep you focused and on track with your work.
#6. Try singing
Yes, you heard us! We know that putting our favourite track on the radio or our iPod can wake us up in the morning and boost our mood, but did you know that singing along can decrease tension and increase energetic arousal, providing you with a burst of energy that lasts all afternoon? It's almost as good as a workout in terms of stress relief. We don't recommend you try this in your business meeting or whilst in a packed office, but if you're in the car on the way home or you work from home, belting out your favourite tracks can help relieve stress and give you a much-needed boost!
#7. Massage your ears
What? Seriously...these ideas are getting stranger and stranger, you might be thinking. Hear us out, because this really works. By applying (gentle) pressure to your ear's outer rim and massaging, you can invigorate your body and boost your energy levels. How? Well, your body's 'accupressure meridians' or 'energy pathways' flow through the outer part of your ear, which means massaging your ear clears blockages and helps energy to flow. So next time you're feeling like all you want to do is take a nap, give yourself an ear massage – or even better get your other half to do it for you!
#8. Have a banana
Bananas are a powerhouse of energy that will help lift you out of your slump – it's up to you whether you want to create a smoothie or protein shake or just enjoy your banana at your desk! Packed with potassium (for heart health), vitamin B (for energy) and phosphorus, bananas are loaded with healthy carbs and they're the best fruit to replenish your energy levels naturally, plus, they're delicious!
#9. Get moving
If sitting at your desk all day has left you feeling seriously tired and de-motivated, then get up and get moving! Even a five minute walk around your office, down the hall or to the photocopier can help boost your alertness, which means you'll be much more productive.
It might sound counter-productive, but stopping doing everything and taking five minutes out of your day to meditate can really improve your energy levels, focus and mental clarity, ideal if you're studying or working on an important project. Mini-meditation sessions fight fatigue and can be squeezed into even the shortest time; even a minute of meditation can help lower stress levels and make you feel more relaxed yet focused.
#11. Surround yourself with positivity
Ever heard of energy vampires? We all have that one friend who moans, constantly. Everytime you talk to them they bring you down with their instantly happiness-sucking vibes that obliterate your happy mood and energy. Whilst we're not suggesting you should ditch your friends, surrounding yourself with positive people can make all the difference to your energy levels, although this may be a bit harder to do if you're working with somebody negative all day. Stress can burn out your adrenals and leave you with no energy, so if your friends make you stressed, that's a key sign that you might want to think about getting some new ones!
One of the first signs that you're dehydrated is fatigue, so it could be that your 3pm slump is due to not drinking enough water. It doesn't have to be pure water you choose (although that's best) – why not enjoy a herbal tea or water with a slice of lemon or lime? Staying hydrated can help fight fatigue and ensure your body is functioning optimally, which will make concentrating easier too.
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