Around the time of year, summer makes its final departure and turns into full-force fall. You start hearing a lot of sniffles, groans, and sleepy yawns. Colds spread like the latest celebrity trend. My son told me he went through a box of tissues at school. I pray that the hand-washing lessons are being heeded.
The days grow shorter and darker, and we start wondering if it’s time to turn on the SAD light.
We could all use an energy boost.
But aside from guzzling a nuclear-yellow-colored can of carbonated energy soda, are there any quick ways to give yourself a serious lift? Turns out, the answer is Yes! Multiple studies confirm that there are lots of interesting tweaks you can make to your daily routine that result in a noticeable, measurable energy and attentiveness boost.
Here are five energy-boosting tips that I love, and they’re all quick, inexpensive. And better energy means your immune system is primed for protection too.
1. Add grass-fed butter or coconut oil to your morning cup of coffee.
This new health trend has a lot of people thinking, “Huh? Buttery coffee? Gross!” but it’s actually a pretty interesting idea. Whisking a teaspoon or two of high-quality fat into your coffee changes the way that your body metabolizes the beverage, which means you’ll have a steadier caffeine ride without the abrupt crash. The fat also acts like superfuel for your brain, improving your decision-making, mood, memory, and perhaps helping to prevent neurodegenerative diseases. After blending, it tastes creamy, not oily. Weird, but worth a try!
2. Sniff some peppermint.
Pop a stick of minty gum into your mouth, or sniff a bundle of fresh minty herbs, and you’ll feel refreshed, right? But is that energy boost “real” or just in your imagination?
Turns out, it’s real. Researchers have found that inhaling a whiff of peppermint helps people to concentrate better, complete tasks faster, stay more alert, and even helps athletes to perform better on the field.
Try making your own all-natural mint soap for an extra energy boost in the shower, or anytime you wash your hands.
If you’re a gum lover, switch to a brand that doesn’t include tons of aspartame and other chemicals. Look for xylitol, a sugar-free wonder that improves your dental health.
Or just keep a small pot with fresh mint on your windowsill or desk—extra credit for that one, because keeping plants in your workspace can lower anxiety levels, improve your reaction times and attentiveness, and just help you to feel happier overall.
3. Turn off the TV at least one night a week.
There are so many exciting shows out there, not to mention hundreds of TED Talks, documentaries, and other videos with world-changing ideas, all free, online, right at your fingertips! It can be tempting to curl up and float away on a TV-cloud for hours every night.
Unfortunately, that habit isn’t great for your body and it’s probably making you feel very fatigued. Studies show that the glow from your TV or computer screen over-stimulates your hypothalamus and slows down the release of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Without enough melatonin, your body won’t fall asleep when it ought to, which leads to sluggish energy levels the next day.
I recommend giving yourself a completely TV-free, screen-free night as often as possible, but get started with one night a week. You’ll fall asleep more quickly and sleep far more deeply on those nights, waking up feeling refreshed!
4. Wear a sleep mask to block out artificial light.
As I mentioned a moment ago, artificial lights from your TV set, from your tablet, from your smartphone, and so on—confuse your body and interrupt your natural sleep cycles. The disruption continues even after you have fallen asleep, leading to low-quality sleep where you wake up feeling tired even if you got 8-9 hours of rest.
The best solution is to remove all blinking, glowing devices from your bedroom, use black out shades, and to cover the exposed lights with black masking tape. While you work on that, here’s a quicker solution: Just put on a sleep mask! It’s not a perfect solution, since your skin has photoreceptors too, but it’s a great way to get started. Poor sleep is a serious health issue with consequences that might really surprise you. So if you’re going to spend $10 on a new “fall accessory” this season… make it a sleep mask.
5. Crank up your favorite music.
Did you know that for certain competitive sports, it is illegal to listen to music while competing because it gives athletes an unfair advantage? (Just like steroids and stimulant drugs!) That’s the power of music!
Energizing music activates your body’s sympathetic nervous system. Your heart rate quickens, delivering more oxygen all throughout your body, and your entire system becomes energized and ready for action.
If you’re doing a repetitive, tedious task, music can also distract you from experiencing feelings of boredom and fatigue and can help you to perform better (that’s why runners who run to the beat of a fast song tend to run faster, and feel happier, than runners who are slogging along in silence.)
Need some new energy-pumping tunes? Try this dance-party playlist from Spotify or one of these 102 energizing playlists from 8tracks. Or pick a song from your past that’s sentimental and exciting for you. You’ll be transported right back to your first road trip, your first school dance, or freshman year at college.
If you want steady, strong, consistent energy throughout your day, you already know the basics that you need to cover: deep sleep, proper nutrition, plenty of water, and a positive mindset.
But sometime, you just need a little extra boost and I hope the 5 tips I just laid out give you a few ideas.
With that, I’m going to spritz a little peppermint oil onto a Kleenex and give it a big sniff to give myself an energy boost for the rest of the day. If anyone around the office thinks I’ve gone nuts, I’ll just say, “Don’t worry. It’s science.”
~ Dr. Sue