December 15, 2016
I struggle sometimes with my energy levels. I seem to be one of those people who just naturally needs a lot of sleep - If I get much less than 8 & a half hours or so, I'm exhausted (literally!). I do think that everyone has a 'magic sleep number' - for some people it's 6 hours, for others it's 9 - and some of us are more able to function on a lack of sleep than others. But as important (and lovely) as sleep is, sometimes it's just not possible to get the amount we need every night - so I've intentionally left 'get more sleep!' out of this article. If that's just not possible for you right now, here are some other, alternative ways to increase your energy levels - quickly and naturally. Let me know how you go with them!
1) Cut down on processed foods & refined carbohydrates
Refined carbohydrates include white bread, white pasta, and anything that’s made with lots of white sugar (including most store-bought cookies and cakes). Because they don’t contain much fibre to regulate blood sugar levels, refined carbohydrates (as opposed to wholemeal) tend to cause ‘spikes’ in blood sugar levels, rather than a long-term boost – so you feel great for 30 minutes or so, then you feel even worse than you did before.
Instead, eat plenty of whole foods, including vegetables, wholegrains & protein – and if you have to have sweet treats, make them yourself using wholemeal flour (or almond/coconut flour) and a low-GI sweetener like honey or agave.
2) Inhale, exhale
The simple act of purposefully deepening your breathing can instantly increase your energy levels. It also relaxes the mind and the muscles in the body, reducing tension (and in turn, cutting down on the energy expenditure involved in keeping muscles tensed). To make it even more effective, incorporate aromatherapy into the exercise with an energy-boosting blend - try Tata Harper's Aromatic Energy Treatment.
3) Incorporate adaptogenic herbs into your routine
Adaptogens help to regulate the adrenal system, which is crucial for maintaining optimum energy levels and easing stress. The adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone – and adaptogenic herbs help to buffer this effect, exerting a calming influence and increasing energy and wellbeing. Some popular (& widely available) adaptogens include ashwaghanda (which I use & love), ginseng & licorice root. While we’re on the subject of supplements, make sure you also include vitamin B in your diet. B vitamins help to maintain thyroid function & keep blood cells healthy, and low energy levels are often one of the first signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. You can find B vitamin complexes in tablet form, or in milk, cheese, yoghurt, eggs, salmon & trout, and beef. If you’re a vegan, look for meat-free products fortified with vitamin B12 (or take supplements).
4) Tap your 'energy points'
Could increased energy levels be as simple as ‘tapping’ certain parts of your body? According to EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) practitioners – yes! The four energy points are:
- on the cheekbones directly below the eyes
- on the collarbones
- on the thymus (between the breasts then up a bit)
- below the breasts (one on each side, above the belly button).
Experts recommend tapping energetically around 10 times on each area for an instant energy boost.
5) Drink more water
A great deal of fatigue is caused by dehydration – and it’s so easy to fix! If you find it hard to get your 2 litres (8 glasses) a day, try adding something to make it more palatable – like fresh fruit or vegetables (strawberries, lemons & cucumber all add a fresh summer taste to plain water. Simply wash, chop & add – then keep refrigerated). Or, if you’re more into hot drinks, switch your coffee for decaffeinated tea, & get your fluid intake that way.
A real picture of me after 7.9 hours sleep.