Sure, caffeine is a tried-and-true way to get yourself out of a funk, but carrying around an IV drip full of coffee all day is inconvenient. Look no further if you’re seeking for a new method to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed—we’ve got 25 of them.
Put down your phone.
Candy Crush can provide you a momentary surge of pleasure, but it won’t genuinely make you feel better. Tiffany Herlands, PsyD, assistant professor of medical psychology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, adds, “There is no evidence that using games and puzzles enhances energy levels.” “However, evidence suggests that as we spend more time tethered to electronics and the internet—and the frequent distractions associated with managing multiple emails, text messages, and simultaneous information sources—we’re losing our ability to use selective attention, which is the ability to screen out distracting information while focusing deeply on a single task.” Want to keep your mind sharp? Don’t go online.
Log off well before going to bed.
“Using devices before going to bed has been proved to impair sleep, leaving you fatigued and less cognitively alert,” Herlands continues. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston discovered that those who read on light-emitting e-readers before bed had a harder time falling asleep, had lower levels of sleep-promoting hormones, and had shorter and delayed REM sleep, all of which decreased their alertness the next day.
Raise your head and spread your limbs.
On a crowded subway car, for example, taking up as much room as possible isn’t a wise strategy. However, studies have shown that one-minute “power postures” (such as standing up straight with arms braced in front of you or reclining back with legs fully extended) can boost testosterone and lower cortisol levels in both men and women. As a result, feelings of authority and risk tolerance improve. To put it another way, if you want to feel like a superhero, just pose like one.
Allow the sun to shine in.
If getting out of bed is too difficult, try leaving your blinds or drapes open. For decades, scientists have known that exposure to the natural sunrise—that is, light that gradually increases in intensity—can help persons with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Its mood- and energy-boosting properties also apply to those of us who cling to our blankets. “The primary benefit of morning light is that it resets your biological clock,” explains Carl Bazil, MD, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the sleep division of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. “Your body becomes set to awaken later and has problems returning to sleep at night, especially if you travel frequently or suffer from’social jet lag’ (that is, sleeping much longer on weekends and then trying to get back in sync for the week).”
…or use a device to create your own sunrise.
The Philips Wake-up Light ($170; amazon.com) brightens over the course of 30 minutes and fills your home with golden light and a natural sound of your choice. “Wake-up alarms [set your biological clock like the sun], but have the added benefit of not lighting up the room at 5 a.m. during certain times of the year!” explains Dr. Bazil.
Taking a breath of rosemary
According to study presented at the British Psychological Society’s annual conference in 2013, biochemists from the University of Northumbria in the UK claim that the herb’s essential oil could increase brainpower. Researchers discovered that study participants in a rosemary-scented room had higher levels of 1,8-cineole, an organic chemical previously associated to cognitive ability, and they did better on word puzzles and memory tests than those in an unscented room. More research into rosemary’s potential as a pharmacological agent is needed, but in the meantime, it’s a popular choice for good old-fashioned aromatherapy.
Breakfast should be high in protein.
A healthy breakfast has been shown to have a direct impact on how children perform in school, and it is similarly important for the rest of us. Our brains thrive on stable blood glucose levels, and eating protein first thing in the morning helps us retain that control.
Allow yourself to relax.
If you’re having trouble sleeping in the afternoon, consider moving closer to the air conditioner or dropping the thermostat a few degrees. “When it’s warm, it’s typical to feel drowsy, especially if you’re still,” adds Dr. Bazil. “However, don’t make it so frigid that you feel uneasy.”
Sing a favorite tune.
Subjects who were instructed to sing indicated that their musical assignment “substantially boosted energy arousal and decreased weariness arousal,” according to a study published in the Journal of Music Therapy. It doesn’t have to be a fantastic drum solo; “rhythm tapping” has been demonstrated to have the similar effect.
Breath of Fire, a kundalini yoga practise that involves taking short, quick breaths through your nose while contracting your diaphragm and belly, is supposed to boost energy and reduce stress by purifying and flushing your system with oxygen. Will it enhance your unseen life force? Possibly. Will it increase your heart rate? Definitely.
Take a little power sleep.
If you get the chance to catch some Zs, take advantage of it; the National Sleep Foundation claims that napping can boost mood, attentiveness, and performance. According to Dr. Bazil, “most [studies] suggest that 20 to 40 minutes is the best time.” “That’s long enough to obtain some restorative sleep (not simply the light sleep you get from a quick nap), but not so long that you develop sleep inertia, which causes lethargy and difficulties regaining attention.”
Have a good time.
Gelotologists, or people who study the physical and psychological aspects of laughter (seriously), refer to it as eustress, or pleasant stress, because it lowers hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and has bodily effects akin to light exercise. They’re right: laughter stretches your muscles, raises your heart rate and blood pressure, and encourages you to breathe faster, all of which can help you get out of a funk.
gulp down a glass of water
Dehydration is an especially cunning energy thief. According to two studies from the University of Connecticut, even a 1.5 percent drop in normal water volume might cause weariness, inability to concentrate, and mood problems. Women are especially vulnerable to the detrimental effects of low-level dehydration, according to the authors of the study, and everyone should monitor their water intake to ensure they’re receiving enough.
Replace refined carbohydrates with nutritious grains.
Because whole grains are digested more slowly than quick-acting carbs like sugar and white flour and are high in protein and fibre, they give consistent energy throughout the day.
Take a puff of gum.
Researchers in Wales put participants through stress tests, monitored their heart rates, and measured cortisol in their saliva to see if chewing gum could improve mood and cognitive function. Subjects who chewed gum throughout the study—both fruit and mint gum was used, though the flavours were not compared—were more alert and had more pleasant emotions than those who didn’t. Take a bite.
Consider getting a massage.
You don’t have time for a full-fledged spa getaway? “Research has shown that even a 15-minute seated massage at work can change your brain wave pattern to increase alertness, improve focus, and boost performance on quantitative tasks,” says Marilyn Kier, founder of Wellness At Work in Northfield, Illinois, a member of the American Massage Therapy Association.
Concentrate on your “kiss point”
“This is the simplest strategy I know for instantly increasing alertness and vitality, regardless of where you are,” Kier explains. “The ‘kiss point,’ also known as GV-26 in acupressure, is a third of the way down from the bottom centre of your nose, between your top lip and nose. Apply pressure for one minute using a fingertip.”
Take a stroll
“It may sound counterintuitive, but increased physical activity, such as taking a brisk walk, can boost energy and mood,” Herlands explains. As one might assume, the American Council on Exercise agrees wholeheartedly, citing a University of Georgia research in which inactive volunteers who engaged in regular, low-intensity exercise experienced a 20% gain in energy and a 65% reduction in weariness.
Please contact your mother.
Researchers at Johnson & Johnson looked at “microbursts,” or brief bursts of activity that can affect our energy levels, and discovered that purely physical activities are only the tip of the iceberg. They discovered that having a discussion with a loved one was related with the high end of the energy scale in their investigation on individuals’ energy levels at their workplaces throughout the day. “Microbursts don’t have to be physical,” they pointed out. “Microbursts of mental, spiritual, or emotional activities can also deplete energy levels.” You know mum would love to hear from you, right?
Take a whiff of a cinnamon stick or a handful of mint leaves.
People who inhaled aerated cinnamon and peppermint oil were more awake and better able to perform in interactive driving simulations, according to a short study published in the North American Journal of Psychology. They completed their duties more quickly and showed less annoyance and exhaustion, according to mood profiles and a task-load grading system designed for NASA. Commuters who find themselves drooping during long rides can benefit from all-natural air fresheners, according to this research.
Try a little meditation.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the first step to speeding up might be to slow down. According to new research published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, doing so may actually reduce inflammation markers. “Mindfulness activities can help to alleviate stress, which can deplete our energy and focus,” says Herlands. “For that reason, stress reduction through mindfulness can feel rejuvenating.”
Don’t make yourself sick with a hefty meal.
To feel fuelled, you don’t need to eat dozens of hummingbird-sized meals throughout the day, but overdoing it in one sitting—even on healthy options like whole grains—can mess with your blood glucose levels and leave you feeling sluggish. Smaller meals and frequent snacks will help you maintain a more steady keel (and some research has suggested that spreading food intake out over four occasions as opposed to two can improve your mood, too).
Make sure you’re getting enough B12.
A lack of vitamin B12 impairs one’s capacity to turn food into energy, resulting in weariness (and takes a serious toll on the nervous system). According to the National Institutes of Health, most adults require 2.4 micrograms of B12 per day; a vegetarian or vegan diet, digestive disorders that impair your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and being over 50 are all risk factors. If you think you could be deficient in B12, consult your doctor, and in the meanwhile, eat B12-rich foods.
Massage your ears.
Auriculotherapy, or ear reflexology, according to integrative health practitioners, can raise our energy levels and help our entire bodies. According to a study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, dementia patients in Spain who received regular ear massage and acupuncture improved their behaviour, sleep patterns, and rehabilitation participation. Want to see if it makes you feel better? Massage your earlobes in small circles with your thumbs and index fingers to stimulate them.
Immerse yourself in frigid water.
Giving your body a rapid, cold shock encourages deep breathing (which increases oxygen in our bodies) and jump-starts circulation, which is why people who do “polar plunges” in the winter months emerge with stupid grins on their cheeks. A cold shower can suffice, and if you’re brave enough to sit in a cold bath (think 50 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit) for 20 minutes or so after strenuous activity, your muscles may recover faster.
Read more: 25 Ways to Live Life to the Fullest