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10 easy ways to boost your energy levels
Life these days is exhausting, isn't it?
If you feel like all you want to do is curl up and shut your eyes when you sit down at your desk in the morning, or if the commute home usually involves you nodding away to yourself like a lunatic, then it's probably fair to say that your energy levels are not what they should be.
Lethargy is a common problem; many of us work long hours and find modern life inexplicably stressful. However, it is in fact possible to give your batteries a recharge without using too much of your time and money.
Read on for our top tips that will transform you from sluggish to sprightly in no time.
Overcome your tired mind
How often does your post-work gym session go out the window because you are 'too tired' to exercise? It's a common excuse, but one that probably has more to do with mental tiredness than physical fatigue. Overcome this initial barrier by forcing yourself into your gym kit, and you will feel the lethargy disappear once you start exercising. Honest.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but working out actually gives you more energy than sitting on the sofa at home doing nothing. There is nothing quite like the post-workout buzz, and if you combine this with a healthy, balanced diet, your energy resources will go sky-high. You will also sleep better, leaving you feeling refreshed and ready to go when you get up in the morning.
Exercise will help, but there are other ways to improve your sleep pattern which don't involve going to a sleep clinic or to your GP for drugs, which should be a last resort.
Take a bath before bed to calm you down, try and get into a routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time, make sure your duvet isn't too thick or thin and that the temperature in your room is neither too hot nor too cold, and banish TVs and other distractions from what should be your sleep sanctuary.
Lose a few pounds
If you are carrying lots of extra weight, then this won't be a quick fix (but it's even more important that you make a start now) but losing a few pounds will not only make you feel better about yourself, it will also give you more energy. To do it, you'll need to exercise regularly and eat well, two things which are guaranteed to boost your batteries.
Packing your diet with fresh fruit and vegetables, beans and pulses, fresh fish and lean cuts of meat will give you all the vitamins and minerals you need to fill you with vigour and banish the stupor that used to dominate your day-to-day life. It's the antioxidants, proteins, essential fatty acids, fibre, protein and other nutrients like B vitamins in these foods that work so well at giving us a kick - so make sure you get plenty of them.
Don't eat this
Think of it like this - everything you put into your body has an effect on how you feel, particularly your energy levels. Which means no more junk food and you also need to cut down on refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and rice.
If you've ever wondered why you feel so sleepy after scoffing a sandwich for lunch, it's because you are eating too many carbs and not enough protein. You should also cut down on your alcohol intake - despite what you might think, it won't help you sleep.
Eat a raw meal every day
Not as difficult as it sounds, eating one raw meal out of three every single day will allow your body to make the most of the rich bounty of nutrients provided by the fruit and vegetables on your plate. Cooking these ingredients robs them of a high percentage of their goodness, and you of your energy kick.
We couldn't say this more often, could we? But drinking plenty of water, as well as helping you to feel full up, expelling toxins from your body and preventing fluid retention, has also been shown to help you feel more alert and improve cognitive function. Aim for two-three litres a day, and avoid the artificial buzz that comes from drinking caffeine, as this won't last long and will only make you feel on edge.
Watch less TV
The average Brit now watches three hours of TV a day, and for many of us it's more like four. When sedentary behavior like this becomes a habit, you will soon find your get-up-and-go is nowhere to be seen.
Watching telly is fine, but you should use this time in the evening to exercise or to eat a proper meal with your family. You could also try recording the programmes you actually want to watch, rather than sitting through any old rubbish, and allow yourself one hour a day max.
Avoid the crash
Does your current lethargy quick-fix involve gorging on a chocolate bar when you suddenly feel in danger of nodding off at your desk? Despite the high sugar content, giving in to your cravings will only leave you feeling more tired than when you started.
Chocolate and other sweets will provide you with an initial energy spike, but when your blood sugar comes crashing back down to earth, so will you. Go for fruit instead, and try to eat a high protein breakfast such as eggs or slow-release carbohydrate such as porridge, which will keep you full up for longer and keep cravings at bay.