In a previous post I talked about the big factors that ensure we have good energy—how we should make sure we sleep enough and exercise (preferably in nature), take short and long breaks, and, in general, try to both relax and pamper our body a little. Now I’d like to share some small tips that can nevertheless have a great impact on our energy levels.
Here they are:
1. Dance, Dance, Dance
You may not be much into dancing, but believe me, once you try some moves, your body will turn you into a dancer. You will become more attuned to dancing in movies and music videos and it will all become a grand experience for you. Dancing is so much more than just an aerobic workout; it actually has tons of health benefits. It helps boost your brain’s processing power, long-term memory, spatial recognition and, of course, improves motor skills such as balance and coordination. It helps prevent Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. But dancing is also about dancing to music (and possibly with one or more persons), and the combination gives you a mood and energy boost right away.
Besides being great exercise, dancing connects one’s mind and body in myriad ways, and as such reenergizes your whole being while also making you feel really good. And the best part is that you don’t need a certain fitness level to begin to dance. Once you get dancing, you’ll fall into its grooves really easily. When Covid hit in the spring of 2020, my confined body practically begged me to dance a little every day. Now I dance while cooking, while watching comedy shows, or when I wait for my tea water to boil. Dancing and making and drinking tea are my go-to ways to get energized during my working hours.
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2. Learn to make quick comfort food with healthy ingredients
These days my favorite snack is baked apples with nuts, raisins, and a tiny bit of butter, served with a bit of whipped cream. I also like to eat quick lentils on baked broccoli and leeks, with some grated cheese on top. Okay, so these meals are not completely healthy, but these are meant to be quick, nutritious comfort foods.
I also make a yummy chocolate avocado pudding with amaranth and cranberries.
Whatever you do, try to eat better than processed sugary food, and try to stay away from the combination of simple, refined carbs (sugar, white bread, white pasta) and saturated fats: they may help you feel energized in the short term, but you’ll feel quite a slump afterwards. Try reaching for more fruit and vegetables, and remember you can prepare them in delicious ways.
Also, embrace smoothies! They can be a great vehicle for various super healthy forest fruits: blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.
As you plan your meals, don’t forget about omega-3 fats from fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. If you can’t get at least two servings of such fish a week, consider taking an omega-3 supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your brain, heart, and blood vessels, your vision and general health, and, in particular, they can help with fatigue by improving the quality of your sleep and helping regulate your mood.
Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega-D3, Lemon Flavor – 1280 mg Omega-3 + 1000 IU Vitamin D3-90 Soft Gels – Omega-3 Fish Oil – EPA & DHA – Promotes Brain, Heart, Joint, & Immune Health – 45 Servings (affiliate link)
3. Eat nuts and seeds every day (in small amounts)
Since the tough spring of 2020 I decided to have nuts and seeds daily, and I somehow managed to weather many difficulties that way: by incorporating ground seeds in gluten-free pizza doughs and snacking on walnuts, sweet almonds, and other nuts and raisins once a day. Beware of bitter almonds, as they contain amygdalin, which causes cyanide poisoning. Also beware of nut allergies. But even if you’re fine to eat almonds and walnuts, it’s best if you eat only about 5–6 almonds a day (too many can cause allergies, kidney stones, or other serious problems) or a small handful of walnuts, for instance, along with about two tablespoons of mixed seeds every now and then in doughs or smoothies, or with oatmeal, etc.
Make sure you grind flaxseed (I also grind sesame seeds), as they can get stuck in your intestinal wall (this varies among people). Also, ground flaxseed is easier to digest.
Nuts and seeds boost your energy and help your immune system. Besides snacking on them or sneaking them into various concoctions, a great way to enjoy them is, of course, in granola bars, which you can buy or make yourself.
Note that if you take an omega-3 supplement that also contains vitamin E, you may be getting too much vitamin E if you also eat too many nuts. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant, but it’s also an anticoagulant—and it can interfere with more than just blood-thinning medications.
4. Try to eat gluten-free if you can
This part is not easy, but a gluten-free diet can greatly help with both your energy and your journey toward better nutrition and better health. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this article, my energy went up significantly when I started eating gluten-free. Of course, it’s not all about gluten or the lack of it—much of it has to do with being forced to take out things like mostly-white bread and white-flour pastries and make better nutritional choices instead.
5. When you talk on the phone, don’t multitask; instead, pace the room
I started pacing while talking on the phone during lockdown last spring in order to get enough exercise, and I haven’t stopped since! I’m able to focus well on the conversation while also doing a much-needed workout.
6. Tread in place while reading a long article online
I have a herniated back, so long hours of sitting down to read and write and do graphic design are not good for me. If I’m not careful to break up long stretches of sitting down I eventually throw out my back to the point where it’s so stuck that I have to work standing up for a few days. And when I do work standing up I realize that some of my computer work can, indeed, be done very well that way—typing emails and reading long articles and studies, in particular. So now I read parts of extensive writing standing up, then sit down to write something, stand up to read some more, and so on.
I’ve also noticed and read that it’s good to get my exercise in short, intensive bursts, so I do that, and I feel quite energized afterward.
7. Dance while watching something on YouTube or on TV
I like to watch things like TED talks on YouTube but I don’t have the patience—and feel I don’t have the time—to watch them sitting down. So then I try to dance, even if the video I’m watching doesn’t have any music. I also move dance-like while watching comedy reruns on TV in the evening after I close my laptop. This dancing, coupled with an interesting video or a funny show, helps a great deal with my mental, emotional, and physical energy.
8. Find someone with whom to share the comings and goings of your days, along with your thoughts and emotions
Sharing small and big things with a close friend will help rebalance your energy levels, particularly if your friend can offer inspiring advice. But this exercise also allows you to clear your mind and put your thoughts in order and into perspective. I do it daily with a friend of mine and it helps tremendously—for instance, I find that once I’ve taken stock of a difficult situation via sharing it with my friend, I find a solution easily and I don’t waste (too much) energy on arguments or activities that deplete me emotionally.
9. Start to write down any thoughts about what you need to do . . .
. . . the next day or in the future, not only in your planner during the day but also on a piece of paper as you fall asleep and as remnants of the day’s thoughts whirl in your head. It will help you de-stress, fall asleep faster, and drift to sleep thinking positively of new things you want to tackle the next day rather than tasks you haven’t finished or done yet, which can snag your brain at bedtime.
10. Do some breathing exercises when you’re stressed out . . .
. . . especially if you’ve noticed that your blood pressure tends to spike in certain stressful circumstances.
Four breaths in through your nose, four breaths out through your mouth. That’s all you need to know to begin. Of course, you could benefit from more meditation techniques, but if you can’t find time for them, make sure you at least calm your body when it needs it by focusing only on your breath for a few minutes.
11. Dedicate time to one or more hobbies every week, even if it’s only two hours a week
If you enjoy photography and hiking, you could go to a park or hike an easy trail. If you enjoy mosaics, you could make a mirror frame or decorate a flowerpot. If you like to make collages or write poetry, as I do, you can spend your hobby time on that. Whatever you do, make sure you get in a state of flow every week, where you forget about time and get recharged and inspired doing something you enjoy.
It may seem like superfluous advice, but with the current addictions to internet technologies, we all need to remind ourselves to disconnect regularly.
12. Spend some time every weekend learning more about things you’re passionate about
This includes your hobby time, of course, but it also goes beyond that to learning more about the craft or crafts you’re interested in, for instance.
I reserve some of my weekend to go through articles promoted in newsletters I signed up for, and this kind of unstructured learning feels as great as unstructured playtime. My inbox is filled with Words of the Day in English and Spanish and with daily poems, along with newsletters on books and the arts, as well as posts from blogs I subscribe to. So when the time comes to choose, I have plenty of materials to pick from, and, no, I don’t get spoiled for choice (and overwhelmed). I just decide whether I want to make that time frame about poetry, or Spanish, or literary or arts news, and then sort the emails in my inbox accordingly and start reading.
Bonus tip #1: Maybe take one magnesium tablet and one vitamin C effervescent tablet every day
Both magnesium and vitamin C help the mind and body deal with mental and physical fatigue, and they also play very important roles in regulating your mood. So if you’re struggling with a lack of energy, anxiety, depression, or simply a lower mood, maybe give these supplements a try.
Like magnesium, vitamin C is also depleted by stress, so if you’re going through a rough patch it may be a good idea to take a supplement, even if you do enjoy good food choices for it such as oranges and kiwifruit. Incidentally, as it has a major role in the synthesis of collagen, vitamin C also helps with bone, ligament, and tendon health and can help reduce inflammation along your spine, for instance—so if you’re struggling with back pain, it’s a natural supplement you may want to consider, especially in these challenging times.
Bonus tip #2: Sing a little . . .
. . . especially if you have a singing voice, but even if you don’t.
I hope you found some of these tips for better energy helpful. If you did, I’d really appreciate a pin/share. Thank you! 🙂
To a happier, healthier life,
Love this blast from the past. I never was able to cook anything, but after learning a few easy stir-fries and oven recipes, I can say that my intake is much more nutritious than what it used to be when I used to rely on street food and hawkers. Anyway, thanks for this post!
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Yes, Stuart, I agree. Even a few kitchen techniques help a lot because of the variety of vegetables, spices, and other foods out there.