The holiday season bring many great things, like joy, nostalgia, good will, and more. But let’s be honest – it’s not exactly relaxing! Up late cooking and cleaning, early mornings with family, and days spent rushing around between work, gift shopping, visiting, and on and on. It’s a fun, fantastic, inspiring time of year, but in the end it’s a tiring time, too.
A lot of people make the all-too-common mistake of upping their caffeine consumption in an attempt to offset the extra stress. Don’t do it! You’ll only get caught in an endless cycle of increasing fatigue, as the caffeine taxes your system more and more … and more. You’ll always be chasing that energy boost, never quite getting enough, and wearing away at your immune system in the meantime.
But not this year. This year, leave your caffeine intake at normal levels, and instead rely on these easy, natural, and effective energy boosters.
1. Drink! Dehydration is one of the most common causes of fatigue, so the first thing you should be doing is keeping track of your 64 ounces to ensure that you’re meeting the minimum. A dehydrated body is hindered in its ability to perform metabolic functions. This means guaranteed sluggishness! So start chugging, and chances are you’ll see a difference right away.
2. Eat! Food is essential in the war on energy drain. The right foods will make you, and the wrong ones will break you. Aim to avoid sugars, processed and refined carbohydrates, and monster meals. Recent research shows that replacing 3 servings of refined carbohydrates with 3 servings of whole grains resulted in a significant overall increase in energy. As well, eating less food but more frequently, is easier on your system than simply gorging on two or three giant meals each day.
3. Chew! Gum isn’t only good for your breath – it can also counteract an afternoon energy dip. In fact, a 2012 study showed that folks who chewed for 15 minutes reported feeling more energy over those who didn’t. Chewing gum affects alertness by increasing blood flow to the brain, and stimulating the autonomic nervous system. Mint is extra refreshing, and try to choose a sugar-free option if you can.
4. Move! You know the drill: walk around the building, do jumping jacks at your desk, and all that other silly advice you’ve been hearing for years. But this time you should actually do it – because it really works! And it doesn’t even need to be much. Just a short burst of vigorous movement can completely revive you when you’re in a slump. So get out the old jump rope, and get moving.
5. Learn! Research suggests that actively engaging your brain will actually train it to operate more alertly. Want to boost your brain waves? Try learning something new, practicing a skill, or taking a break to play a game like Sudoku.
6. Listen! Enlivening music will stimulate your brain to fire faster and actually increase your heart rate, allowing your energy to flow more freely. So turn on the up-tempo beats, and if you can, sing along. Loudly!
7. Brighten! Bright light literally sends wake-up signals to your brain, whereas low light and darkness do the opposite. To maximize your alertness, open the shades, turn on all the lights, and consider adding lamps to your workspace. Blue-tinted light is better than red, and full-spectrum light bulbs are best because they replicate real sunlight.
8. And finally, Massage! Your ears, that is. I know it sounds strange but bear with me here: all of your body’s acupuncture meridians connect to, and concentrate in, your ears. Therefore, you can access and invigorate your entire body just by massaging the outer rim of your ear between your thumb and pointer finger, using a downward motion, for 30 seconds or so. Sound crazy? Maybe, but why not give it a shot? It just might save you from another dreaded afternoon slump!