10 Ways to Increase Your Energy & Fight Fatigue Naturally
When I was in my twenties, I took my energy for granted. I had endless amounts, and I didn’t think twice about it. The only time my batteries would run low was when I partied too hard the night before. Even then, I’d bounce back with relative ease. Pop a few Advil, chug some water and an epic black coffee, and I’d be good to go—ready for more troublemaking.
These days (20+ years later), I have to be super mindful about my energy. When I keep my energy tank full, I’m all set. My health thrives. My relationships thrive. My business thrives. But if I let it run dry, it’s much harder to fill ‘er up. And when that happens, my spark dims and it’s difficult to put my best self forward.
A few years ago, I was totally spent and desperate to feel better. I read every article and book I could get my hands on about how to get my energy back, but most of the information was 10 steps ahead of where I was (subterranean). If I was going to bounce back, I didn’t need the next workout or superfood—I needed help with the pre-basics.
So, I started very simply. I took tiny, nano steps each day, and after a few months (to almost a year), I started to feel better. After a few years, I felt like a powerhouse again. I haven’t written much about that time, partly because I don’t always like sharing experiences I’m still processing, but I can tell you that I learned a ton about energy as a result of my situation.
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If you’re having a rough time with your energy, I highly recommend beginning with the basics. Also, be patient with yourself. Impatience and self-frustration drain our tanks like nothing else. Your body is trying to tell you something, so don’t shoot the messenger.
Sometimes, lack of energy is a physical crisis—we need more sleep, better nutrition and so on. Other times, it’s an emotional or spiritual issue. Perhaps our actions are out of alignment with our natural rhythms and how we want to feel. When I go against my own grain and ignore my soul whispers, it’s only a matter of time before I feel drained and unmotivated (like what’s the point?).
Maybe we’re being pulled in countless directions and feeling scattered and fried. In that case, we may just need to pull back and recharge. Or, maybe it’s just plain unhappiness. If that’s the case, it might be time to take a good hard look at the situation or condition trampling our joy.
Whatever it is, once we make the necessary changes (no matter how hard they may be), it can be surprising how easily the pep returns to our step. So, here are some other gentle ways to awaken your energy. I hope they help you. You deserve to feel tip-top!
How to boost energy when you’re chronically tired, emotionally drained or burned out:
- Listen to your body. Drink soothing teas, rest when you need rest, socialize only when you feel up for it, but don’t force yourself into situations that will deplete you even more.
- Find light activities that bring you joy. Watch Kristen Wiig movies (hilarious), snuggle up with a great book that takes your mind off of how zapped and maybe even depressed you feel, hop on Skype with an old friend (if it’s too much to visit in person).
- Take some deep breaths. Try the 4-7-8 approach. This type of breathing calms your sympathetic nervous system (the one that fuels your stress response). Basically, you inhale through your nose to a mental count of four, hold for seven and exhale through your mouth to a count of eight. Voila!
- Exercise. Now, I know that exercise is probably the last thing you want to do, but even the tiniest bit of movement will help repair your fatigue. I’m talking really gentle and restorative stuff, like light yoga and stretching. Start slowly and don’t overdo it. The point is to wake up your body, not traumatize it further. Also, be aware of your posture and if you spend long hours at the computer, make sure to get up and move around every hour or so. Grab a glass of water while you’re at it—dehydration zaps your energy further.
- Sleep. Tuck yourself in before 11 pm and get 7-8 hours of rest. If you can add a power nap, that would be great. Another tip is to try those goofy orange-lensed glasses. I have friends who swear by them. They basically block the blue light from phones, computers and TV’s. This allows your pineal gland to do its thing and help you get your rest. (You can also just turn that shit off—just sayin’)
- Essential oils. Essential oils, like peppermint and lemon, can be energizing. Add a few drops to a diffuser, dilute a few drops with a carrier oil (such as organic coconut oil, olive oil or grapeseed oil) or just open the bottle and sniff.
- Enjoy a little caffeine, skip starchy carbs as snacks and eat regularly. A touch of caffeine can boost your energy as long as you don’t overdo it. Drink a cup of green or white tea, sip kombucha or enjoy a few squares of dark chocolate, which have a mild to moderate amount of caffeine—just what your body might need to rev its motors and get you through a depleting time. Steer away from starchy carbs, like pretzels, breads and chips, which can actually drain you. Instead, snack on nuts, seeds, hummus, edamame beans and/or veggies, which don’t have the same sleepy effects of carbs. And although this may be a no-brainer, skipping meals and overeating are complete energy zappers.
- Check your vitamin D levels. Even the slightest drop in Vitamin D can zap your energy and make a tough time even harder. Most people need 1,000-2,000 IUs supplemental Vitamin D daily, and if your levels are low (below 40), you may need to supplement more (and for life). Ask your doctor to test your blood levels of Vitamin D at least once a year. You should be in the 40-80 range. If your levels are low, you should start feeling an energy boost about 2 weeks after beginning to supplement.
- Brighten up your day. When you’ve been drained by sadness, stress and emotional challenges, getting more light may be one of the keys to boosting your energy bank. Sunlight actually boosts the oxygen in your bloodstream, which gives you more stamina and a definite energy boost. If you live at a latitude where sunlight isn’t as strong during part of the year, look into getting a light box to mimic sunlight in the off season.
- Let your air circulate and keep it cool. Who doesn’t feel exhausted when it’s stuffy? Keeping your room cool and breezy helps you feel calm and comfortable. Crack a window in the winter for a touch of cool, fresh air and keep a fan running year-round.
Your Turn: What impacts your energy levels the most day-to-day? And if you have any tips, please share them!
Peace & Zip!