23 Natural Ways to Boost Energy and Fight Fatigue
It's a tired story: Americans are overworked, overscheduled, and sleeping less than they should. YouGov reports that 4 in 10 Americans wake up feeling tired at least once a week, and nearly as many say they wake up tired at least four days a week. A full eight hours of sleep is an obvious way to bust fatigue, but getting the recommended amount of rest isn't always the solution or even possible -- nor is shelling out for over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids. If you're fighting fatigue, here are 23 cheap and easy ways to feel more refreshed and upbeat without hitting the snooze button.
Related: 14 Sleep Myths That Could Explain Why You're So Tired
Like walking, riding a bike for a short 10 minutes can really get the heart pumping and energy levels up. Again, as little as three 10-minute sessions can do the trick. Biking (or walking) is also a great way to soak up some sunlight and increase the body's level of vitamin D, which also can boost energy levels.
While many people squeeze in a workout first thing in the morning, a better time to boost energy is in the early afternoon, when fatigue really sinks in. A lunchtime trip to the gym could be just the thing to get back on track.
Researchers in London have found that technology can be a drag. It makes us feel stressed and fatigued, especially when multitasking. People who often stop what they're doing to respond to emails or text messages have as much brain fatigue as those who have missed a night of sleep. Rather than suffer from what the study calls "infomania," set aside blocks of time during the day to turn everything off.
Holding a hunched-over pose in front of the computer can cause blood vessels to close off and blood flow to slow. Stand up or even sit up straight to loosen the neck and shoulders and bring circulation into those narrowed blood vessels.
Studies have shown that overcommitment in the workplace and beyond can cause serious exhaustion -- not just fatigue but total exhaustion, which also may contribute to cardiovascular disease. For both mental and physical health, it's in your best interest to learn how much you can and cannot undertake. Learn to say no more often.
Breathing patterns used in yoga relax the mind and boost energy. This exercise can be done seated at a desk: When fatigue strikes, sit up straight, close your eyes, and inhale deeply. Place your hand on your belly and, as you exhale, push on your belly nine or 10 times to help release all the air from your chest. Repeat several times to get oxygen flowing.
Sugar and white flour are deceiving. When consumed, they give a quick energy burst, followed by a lower low. The spike and drop of blood sugar levels does nothing but zap more energy. Avoid snacks and meals loaded with these energy saboteurs.
Instead of sugar and white flour, eat meals and snacks consisting of various plant-based antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc, which can boost energy levels and keep blood sugar spikes to a minimum.
Related: 13 Foods to Keep Your Wallet and Waistline in Check
It sounds silly, but instead of staring at a screen without blinking for hours on end, try blinking 10 to 20 times a minute while getting your screen time. It allows the brain to take mini breaks and stay engaged.
Dehydration is a huge culprit in fatigue. Even if you don't realize it, your flagging may be due to a lack of water. Aim to drink enough that your urine is pale yellow.
While coffee is the main go-to for many, green tea can have the same or even better benefits, especially when sipped in the afternoon. Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, found in green tea is associated with weight loss, while the small amounts of caffeine in green tea provide an energy boost without interrupting sleep patterns at night.
Pair that green tea with an apple to get lots of energy. Apples are an excellent source of plant-based antioxidants, vitamin C, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. All work together to keep blood sugar in check. Berries are a good choice too. They pack a big dose of anthocyanins, which naturally boost energy.
This is especially important for men. A University of Wisconsin study found that 60 percent of Americans 18 to 39 have high blood pressure but no clue about how to control it. High blood pressure is a major source of fatigue and a health condition that needs attention and treatment.
Suffer from allergies? It could be stealing your energy. Sinus issues can contribute to a lower level of oxygen circulating through your body, plus greater effort with every breath. Try an over-the-counter sinus pill to combat sinus allergies and boost energy. Savings tip: Generic allergy pills are just as effective as brand name and sell at a fraction of the cost.
Have friends who are always full of energy and motivation? Hang out with them more often. Their enthusiasm will rub off, improving your mood and energy levels.
Laughter is good for the soul -- and, as it turns out, the body, too. Laughing boosts your heart rate and blood pressure enough to add energy when you're dragging.
A mind-body condition that some professionals refer to as adrenal fatigue may come from toxic relationships and constant relationship conflict. Even without scientific evidence, it seems reasonable that interpersonal tensions cause stress that can affect your mental state and your body and make you feel very fatigued. The best strategy is to exit noxious relationships and resolve social conflicts before they drag on and drag you down.
Being overweight by even 5 pounds takes a toll on your energy. The closer you are to your ideal weight, the more energy you'll have.
A practitioner of emotional freedom techniques, a form of acupressure therapy commonly known as tapping, tells Shape that the thymus can play a role in energy levels. This gland is located on the chest below the collarbone. Tapping this area for 20 seconds while taking some deep breaths stimulates the immune system, relieves stress, and boosts energy.
Find out what you need to feel rejuvenated. It could be a combination of the suggestions listed here or something totally different -- a massage every other week, perhaps; time with friends or a weekly date night. Whatever you decide on, make a plan, put it into practice, and stick with it on a regular basis.