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10 Practical Ways to Boost Your Energy Level

10 Practical Ways to Boost Your Energy Level

Admit it: you’re tired of being tired. Whether hitting your snooze button 34,521 times or spending your day combating brain fog, your energy level is in serious limbo. You’ve often wondered if caffeine’s available in an IV drip (or if you’re anything like me, you’ve Googled it!).

You’re done with chronic fatigue and quick fixes. Your Scarlett O’Hara moment is here, and you’re not going to take it anymore! But where to begin? Glad you asked! Here are 10 practical ways to boost your energy level and get more out of your day-to-day life.

1. Take a Nap

If you’re having trouble focusing, clock out for a 20-minute power nap. Find a quiet place to lie down so you can fall asleep easily, and set an alarm so your nap doesn’t turn into a coma. Make sure to take your nap early in the afternoon – any later and you’ll have trouble falling asleep when it’s time to go to bed.

Have enough sleep already? Try the next one.

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2. Exercise

I know, I can already hear the groans. Exercise when you’re tired? Say wha?! But it’s true: in fact, studies have shown that a 10-minute walk can rev you up for up to two hours! Exercise increases blood flow to all parts of your body, increasing your energy. Just make sure to avoid exercise up to three hours before bed, or you could be in for a restless night.

You’ve been doing a lot of exercises and look for more ways? Keep reading.

3. Drink More Fluids

Dehydration can make you feel tired, so make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. You’re not limited to water; you can also drink milk, tea and liquid foods to hydrate, such as soups.

Wondering what to do while drinking? Read the next point.

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4. Listen to Music

Throwing on upbeat songs during energy lulls is a great way to not only boost your energy level, but distract you from feeling blasé during not-so-fun tasks. Music engages the body’s sympathetic nervous system, which readies you for action when you’re facing a challenge.

Music alone can’t vent your anger? Try the next suggestion.

5. Roll With the Punches

Studies have reported our minds spin through about 60,000 thoughts a day, and 50,000 of those are negative. If you find your thoughts become very Shakespearean tragedy every time you’re placed in a hectic situation, be mindful of that and get into the habit of handling them in a more positive way. Doing so will lower your cortisol level (the stress hormone), and you’ll be able to perceive productive outcomes over dreadful ones.

Feel like it’s more of a time to calm down? The next 2 ways can help!

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6. Focus on Your Breathing

When we’re going through a stressful period, our breathing can become shallow. This causes fatigue and physical stress because of the lack of oxygen in our cells. By focusing on mindful breathing, you’ll keep your body running smoothly. Check out these breathing exercises for guidance.

If you can breathe well, why not go up another level and try to meditate?

7. Meditate

One of the most popular ways to boost your energy level: meditation. It lowers your heart rate, eases tension, and gives you an endorphin burst, which increases your alertness. Do your best to take a few minutes every hour to step away from technology and simply focus on your breath.

Good breathing helps to tune up the body, so does your diet. Check out the next 2 points.

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8. Cut Back on Caffeine/Sugar

It’s obvious why we go for that afternoon coffee or dessert: it spikes our blood sugar, giving us a sudden burst of energy to get through the rest of our workday. However, your energy will crash just as quickly once your blood sugar level drops back down, leaving you feeling like you’ve been hit by a freight train. Focus on snacks that contain fruit (their natural sugars take longer to metabolize), protein, good fats (such as in almonds and walnuts), and complex carbohydrates (such as those found in whole grains).

Read on to find out what your body needs actually!

9. Take B-Vitamins

Your grogginess may have to do with not getting enough B-vitamins. Thiamin, B6, B12, and riboflavin are all part of your body’s energy production. Take a daily supplement to help offset your fatigue.

Now you know how to have control of all your internal factors, but the external world has impact on you as well. Make sure you don’t miss the last point!

10. Avoid Whiny McAlwaysComplains

There’s no bigger energy suck than people who are just exhausting to spend time with. Either they only get in touch when they want something from you, show up at your door and expect you to drop everything, or make Eeyore look like a ray of sunshine. Either cut back on communication with them, or cut them out of your life entirely.

How do you boost your energy level?

More by this author

Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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