*This boost your energy levels blog post is in partnership with BetterYou [ad]
If there's one thing I've learned from my years of travel – it's that finding ways to boost your energy levels can really transform your experience of the world. In the last decade, I've been on a real journey with wellbeing that has led me to entirely change my diet, my lifestyle and even my exercise routine. I certainly won't claim to be perfect – after all, this is a journey and it's one I'll be on for the rest of my life. But I have invested my time and energy into researching and trialling different lifestyle choices to really see how they can improve my quality of life.
During lockdown, it has become more important than ever to me to keep up this new routine. You should be doing everything in your power to boost your energy levels. After all, I'm sure we've all had those horrible low mood days where we feel the anxiety creeping in and we just can't seem to shake that lack of energy. We all suffer those days. But I believe that the ability to shake off these feelings starts with understanding the processes your body goes through, and making them work in your favour.
*Disclaimer: I am not medically trained, I am simply sharing what has worked for me. For any health concerns, please contact a medical professional.
Why choose natural ways?
For years, I've been a big believer in lifestyle medicine and choosing preventative healthcare where possible. Traditional medicine has it's place. But so many of today's health problems could be dramatically reduced if we simply looked after our health and made the right choices before we get sick. So much of the healthcare system in the UK and US seems to involve throwing pill packets at everything to ease the symptoms, instead of tackling the deeper lifestyle issues.
Over the years, I've struggled with various minor health issues such as eczema, skin reactions and hives, tinea versicolour. I went through years of appointments with GPs and skin specialists who never managed to cure the problems. As soon as I stopped the medications and treatments, they always came back. As I got older and spent more time researching, I realised the huge impact lifestyle choices could have. I started to make a combination of lifestyle changes and to really focus on my gut health and diet. Now my skin is the best it has ever been. Making lifestyle changes meant it was easier for me to maintain them with a busy lifestyle and throughout travelling as I wasn't reliant on doctors and medication.
14 natural ways to boost your energy levels
This one is so important and yet is so easily forgotten. If you're ever feeling drained and your brain starts to feel foggy, your first reaction should always be to drink more water. When you live a busy lifestyle, it can be easy to forget. But even if you're just at home in lockdown – your lack of routine might mean you don't remember. Or you might be relying on too many cups of tea and coffee which dehydrate you further. If you travel a lot like I do, between the air conditioning and the hot, humid weather, you can quickly feel the effects of dehydration.
TOP TIP: Get a large reusable water bottle to carry with you so you can track how much you have had to drink. Aim to finish 2-3 litres a day (women) or 3-4 litres a day (men).
Get more sleep – or less
I don't know about you guys, but I remember a time when I could go days without a proper night's sleep. I was great at functioning on the absolute minimum and could maintain it for a week or more. When you're in your teens and twenties, it's so easy to get into bad sleep patterns. Especially with university and living away from home for the first time. But sleep is so vital for your whole body. There are so many of your body's natural processes that only happen when you sleep. So if you're not sleeping, you body can't complete these processes and if it continues over time your body will really struggle.
Travelling can be really draining, as with any busy lifestyle – so it's important to ensure you're allowing yourself time to really rest. That doesn't just mean getting your eight hours in each night – but also reducing the time you spend in bed. By not allowing yourself to watch TV or play video games in your bed, you allow it to remain a relaxing and peaceful place for you.
TOP TIP: Try lavender sleep sprays or a diffuser with essential oils. You can also use magnesium-rich foods like spinach and whole grains, or magnesium products to help relax your body.
Lower your stress levels
Stress comes in many forms and can prevent you from being able to boost your energy levels. Think of stress as a road block to you living your best life. It can leave you feeling anxious and on-edge, or lethargic and lacking any real drive when there are constant road blocks in your way. When you let outside factors affect your stress levels, you lose control and routine, which your body normally thrives on. As humans we love structure, but there is so much in this world that can disrupt us and leave us feeling helpless.
Your stress might come in the form of rush hour traffic making you late, it might be your children screaming in the supermarket, or it might be worries about the future. Key to lowering your stress levels is being able to mentally remove yourself from the situation, even if you can't physically. This can be done through breath work and meditation which are really great for helping you accept that you have control over nothing but your breath.
TOP TIP: Read A beginner's guide to mindfulness and meditation
Don't get overworked
We live in a society that sets productivity at a higher value than mental health. We're all guilty – myself included – of continually giving in to this idea that we need to be busy 24/7. Unfortunately often this can translate into overworking and not allowing our bodies to rest and truly recuperate. Hands up if you've ever worked on a day off – or if you're guilty of cramming your days off full of activities so you start the week exhausted. If either of these apply to you, it's no wonder you're struggling to boost your energy levels. Cut back your work to allotted and paid hours, if you're taking on a lot of extra activities outside of work. Ask yourself whether you can keep this up long-term and whether you actually enjoy it, or whether you just feel you "ought to".
TOP TIP: Read – How to become your most productive self and get shit done
Eat a more plant-based diet
I'm not here to tell you to become a vegetarian or go vegan overnight. But if you're struggling with feeling lethargic and lacklustre – it's worth looking at what you're putting into your body. After all, our energy comes from the food that we eat. If you're filling yourself with sugary treats, it's likely your body is going on a rollercoaster with huge highs and lows.
Also, if you're eating food with high fat content, you'll get that instant release of energy but are more likely to hit an afternoon slump. Instead it's worth focusing on lots of fruits and veggies for natural sugars, complex carbohydrates that will last you much longer, and protein that will give you that full feeling. Going for whole grains and more plant-based food will make it easier to digest and will give you that longer-lasting energy. Dairy and meat products are more likely to cause bloating and that over-full feeling.
TOP TIP: If you have a meat/dairy heavy diet, why not only have these at dinner time. For breakfast and lunch, switch to plant-based options. Or try having one meat/dairy free day a week and see the results.
Get your energy levels checked
If you're concerned and want to boost your energy levels, it's worth seeing a nutritionist or GP so that they have run blood tests. These can tell you where you might be deficient in certain nutrients. Perhaps you might not be getting enough in your diet, or maybe some nutrients are only available in certain foods that you can't eat. For instance – iron deficiency can be a big one for women and can have a huge impact on your energy levels. Lacking magnesium in your diet can affect your sleep which will cause reduced energy levels. There are lots of different nutrients that could be affecting you overall energy and health if you are deficient in them. You can also boost your energy levels with NAD, a natural coenzyme that supports cell health and metabolic function. A NAD drip in Jacksonville can help restore your energy levels and fully rehydrate your body.
TOP TIP: Do your research first – there is so much information available online that could help you. If you think you might be deficient in a nutrient, look at foods you can introduce to your diet to replenish your body.
Introduce BetterYou supplements
If you find it difficult to introduce more of certain nutrients to your body via food – you could consider taking supplements. For example, vegans and vegetarians might find they are particularly low in vitamin B12 which is mostly found in meat, fish, cheese and eggs. However, it is a far more widespread issue with most people being deficient in the nutrient these days. Vitamin B12 helps to reduce fatigue and to increase concentration levels so to boost your energy levels could completely transform your day-to-day life. I switched to a predominantly plant-based lifestyle a few years ago and since have experimented with supplements to find the best ones.
I'm currently loving the Boost B12 Daily Oral Spray from BetterYou. Instead of taking pills each day, it's a vegan-friendly apricot flavoured spray. It's so convenient and perfect for those who live a busy lifestyle, or travel a lot as the one spray contains 48 daily doses. After just a few weeks of using it daily, I'm already noticing how it boosts my energy levels and stops my brain feeling foggy. During lockdown, I had noticed days where I felt so drained and lacking in energy, but since taking this supplement, this has completely changed. I can't believe the transformation I've noticed simply from an oral spray. Vitamin B12 is also vital for supporting your normal psychological functions. During a time when we've all been struggling with our mental health, it's important to support our brain functions in any way we can.
TOP TIP: If you're passionate about cutting back on waste, BetterYou have an amazing Better Planet Project. All of their packaging is manufactured under eco-friendly initiatives, with many of them recycling ocean plastic.
Move your body more – or less
Movement is hugely important – not just physically but for our mental health. But it's important to strike that balance of healthy movement. It's about finding ways to naturally incorporate movement into our day – perhaps by taking the stairs or walking to work. But also finding time in the day to introduce higher intensity workouts that raise the heart rate and help the release of endorphins. I've always found that the more active I am, the more energy I have and I crave those endorphins. Over the years I've gone through phases where I was loving higher impact workouts such as HIIT and running, and other times I've preferred lower impact yoga and walking. What's important is to listen to your body. If you're tired and aching, your body needs rest not a high impact workout. Likewise, if you wake up full of beans, it's good to release that energy somehow.
TOP TIP: If you think you hate working out, it's simply because you haven't found the right exercise for you. Get creative and find fun ways to get your heart rate up! Don't force yourself to do exercise that you hate.
Sugar is one of the biggest demons when it comes to energy levels and fatigue. While you may love that sugar buzz when you're indulging, don't forget what goes up must come down! Your blood sugar soars and then crashes in record time which often leaves you feeling sluggish and lazy. This can be a big one for those who work in offices and are partial to a mid-morning treat. Add that to sugary coffees and lunch, and no wonder you're struggling by the afternoon. Remember, sugar is addictive so it will be hard at first and you will get cravings – you have to stay strong! Make good food choices to help boost your energy levels.
TOP TIP: Try replacing your sweet treats with snacks that will give you longer lasting energy like nuts, fruit or even homemade healthy snacks or bakes.
Cut out caffeine
Just like sugar, caffeine takes you on a wild ride and it also comes with a real addictive quality. If you've ever been someone who craves a coffee, or can't function without it – it's likely you have a dependency on it. Caffeine comes in various forms from coffee and various teas including green and matcha, to fizzy drinks including Diet Coke, lots of chocolate products including some cereals, plus painkillers, yoghurt, Oreos, ice cream – the list goes on!
You could be getting a LOT more caffeine daily than you realise so start looking closer at what you consume and at what time in the day. I know that I can only have one coffee max a day and it must be before 11am or I won't sleep that night. Some people are more sensitive to others than caffeine and this is important to note because it can cause anxiety and jittery feelings in some. This can lead to lack of sleep and exhaustion the next day.
TOP TIP: Try an have a week off from coffee and see how you feel – often it's the routine of "getting a coffee" that makes us develop a dependency but the only way to know how it affects you is to go without.
Similar to caffeine – did you know that nicotine is a stimulant? It can lead to insomnia or disturbed sleep due to cravings. Smoking affects your lungs which causes them to work less efficiently – this means a decreased amount of oxygen reaching your brain. No wonder you're feeling drained or tired. The best thing for your health is to quit smoking – it comes with much worse health problems than less energy.
TOP TIP: If you decide to quit, don't do it alone. See your GP who will be able to offer support to help you achieve your goal.
Drink less alcohol
It can be difficult when you live in a society that advertises alcohol and drinking at every turn. But the amount of alcohol you drink can have a huge impact on the quality and amount you sleep. It can also cause you to feel hungover and tired the next day. While you may think that "nightcap" will help you drift off to sleep, acting as a sedative, alcohol can make you feel more drowsy. But it also works as diuretic which makes you need to get up and pee during the night. If you're drinking a lot at weekends, you'll know that feeling of exhaustion after a night out. This is because your whole body is under strain as your kidneys and liver attempt to filter out the toxins in the alcohol.
TOP TIP: Try cutting back on nights out – drink water in-between each alcoholic drink. Or if at home, try having your "nightcap" as a drink with dinner so your body has time to process before you sleep.
Be more social
If there's one thing we've realised in lockdown – it's that we rely on our social connections more than we ever realised. They make us feel happy, positive, loved and motivated. So when those are taken away, many of us are left feeling lethargic, fatigued and unmotivated. I really struggled to not have contact with friends and family during this time and missed that rush of endorphins I get from seeing a friendly face or hugging. These feelings of isolation from your support network can leave you struggling with tiredness and low mood. If you're feeling like this, try organising to see friends in person or via Zoom to boost your energy levels.
TOP TIP: Try to organise at least one social activity per week that doesn't centre around work. It gives you motivation and something to look forward to, and gives those precious endorphins.
Improve your mindset
Positivity can completely transform your outlook on life and the energy you have. If you want to boost your energy levels, the first thing to look at is your attitude and how you are feeling. I love the saying "be the energy you want to attract". If you're full of negative thoughts they weigh you down and leave you feeling sad, tired and lacklustre which may only attract more negativity. If you refuse to let things affect you and start your day with a positive outlook, you feel energetic and friendly.
TOP TIP: Read – How the power of positivity can change your life
Do your struggle with low energy levels? Have you tried changing any of these factors in your life?