Many people get more done in the first few hours of the morning than they do the rest of their entire day. If that’s the case with you, it’s critical for your energy to be humming well before lunchtime. But thanks to drowsiness, distractions, or a draining commute, too often we get to lunch already feeling exhausted and ready to call it a day. So if you find that your energy is flagging earlier than you would like, there are plenty of tactics for overcoming this ennui. Here are 30 helpful ones to consider. And for more on giving yourself more zeal everyday, here are the 25 Non-Coffee Ways to Boost Your Energy.
“For the love of criminy, put some music on in the morning,” says Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics. “And preferably have it be something which moves you emotionally or physically in a positive way. Dance, sway, and move as you fight your two-year-old who is frantically kicking and screaming while you are trying to get socks onto his feet.” And for more on great work music, Bill Murray’s Secret Spotify Playlist Will Boost Your Productivity.
“I know: Alarms, kids, work, traffic—all of that is waiting out there, so why would I get up earlier or leave later?” Backe asks. “A fine question. However, there is another thing I know, which is: morning is a time of expansion and rejuvenation. In order for your mind and body to function properly during the day, you need this in your life. After a while, you won’t know how you got along without it.” Bonus: Being more mindful is one of the 50 Genius Weight-Loss Motivation Techniques, as well.
Backe also suggests that a “good morning quickie” might be a great way to “leave your home with a smile.” Sex has been found to have all kinds of health benefits, including making you feel more energized. So if your partner is a morning person, add them to your morning to-do list. For more on setting the mood the right way, here are the 30 Best Bedroom Games Every Couple Should Play.
“Just sit down, close your eyes, keep your spine straight and begin focusing on your breath. Inhale deeply to the count of five,” explains Veronica Parker, a meditation coach and yoga teacher. “Hold your breath in for five and then exhale for five. Continue with this rhythm for a few minutes. Anytime your mind wonders, just bring it back to the breath. Let your breath breathe you into being and generate uplifting energy for your day.” Meditation is also one of the 20 Simple Ways to Improve Your Memory.
If you don’t have time for a full meditation, just take some time, either in the morning when you wake up or any time throughout the day to stop and take some deep breaths. Even one single deep breath can send a rush of energy to your head and throughout your body.
Warm showers can feel amazing on a cold morning, but they also have a tendency to get you wanting to relax and feel cozy. For a more energizing morning routine, Parker suggests turning down the temperature.
“The instant the cold water hits a particular part of the body, it opens up the blood flow of the capillaries to move to the area. It enhances the levels of oxygen,” she says. “It detoxifies the circulatory system, enhances skin strength, radiance and helps the body release oxytocin (a feel good hormone).”
You probably are tempted to reach for your phone first thing in the morning, whether to check your email or see what news has developed in the few hours you were asleep. Don’t. Staring at a screen drains your energy and distracts you from the energy-building effort of focusing on the day ahead of you. Skip the screens until you get to your office. If that’s not convincing enough, know that un-plugging is also one of the 70 Genius Tricks to Get Instantly Happy.
Get your mind into a positive place by repeating healthy affirmations to yourself—particularly ones that explicitly tell your brain that you are energized and happy. You’ll be surprised how susceptible your mind is to such suggestion.
Natural light is a natural energy-booster, so get as much of it as you can early in the morning. The Vitamin D it provides has plenty of health benefits and your alertness will rise as you feel the sun on your face. Even on dreary days, getting outside can have plenty of impact on your mental sharpness and health.
Speaking of vitamins, a daily regimen of vitamins is a wise idea, whether you are downing targeted B vitamins (which does wonders for your energy levels) or an all-in-one multivitamin, it’s a supplement to your breakfast well worth adding.
This might be better done the night before, but a bit of tidying, washing dishes, or some other mundane organizing task can get you both feeling like you are getting things done and make you feel better about your surroundings either before you walk out the door to work, or settle in at your home office to get the workday started.
The scents you smell can make a big impact on your energy level. Stock your bathroom with refreshing, eye-opening smells like mint or citrus and consider switching the products you currently use to something that will give you a sense of novelty and surprise as you start the day.
Nothing is more energizing than the feeling of getting things done, which makes it disheartening when a whole morning slips away checking emails or putting out fires. Instead, prioritize the must-do tasks ahead of you for the day, give each your fully focused energy, and don’t let the outside world intrude until the time you designate for yourself to switch gears.
While the jury is out about whether it really is the most important meal of the day, a healthy breakfast certainly gives you a helpful energy boost as you get you day going. Becky Kerkenbush, a registered dietitian at Wisconsin’s Watertown Regional Medical Center urges that those seeking an energy infusion consider foods like whole-grain bagels, cereal with fruit and nonfat milk, oatmeal with raisins, and scrambled eggs.
“Research shows breakfast improves alertness and concentration, and helps shed pounds by preventing overeating during the day,” she says. “In the morning, energy stores are depleted by as much as 80% from the night before. Without food, your body begins to conserve energy and burn fewer calories.”
Breakfast is just the beginning. You are more likely to enjoy consistent energy throughout your morning by having healthy snacks on hand—chomping on a handful of almonds or an apple around 10:30 or so. Not only does it keep hunger from growing (leading you to eat too much at lunch—with the inevitable crash), according to Kerkenbush, eating every three to four hours “can fuel a healthy metabolism, maintain muscle mass and prevent hunger between meals. It also maintains blood sugar and regulates the release of cortisol (a hormone associated with increased appetite and storage of fat).”
Another way to think about how you’re eating throughout the morning to ensure you are staying in the center of the “hunger scale.”
“If a meal carries you 5–6 hours without feelings of hunger, the portions are likely too large,” says Kerkenbush. “On a hunger scale of 1–10, 1 is feeling starving, weak and light headed. 5 is satisfied. 10 is stuffed and/or nauseous.”
The first thing you do in the morning should be to drink a few gulps of water. Water aids in your digestion and metabolism and keeps everything functioning properly. More importantly, since you’ve been sleeping, you’ve gone without this vital fluid for hours. You’re dehydrated and likely don’t even notice it as you’re wiping sleep from your eyes.
Consider setting a glass of water out the night before, not only so it’s there as a reminder when you wake up, but to sip on should you get up in the middle of the night.
Seriously, do not underestimate the energy-building power of H20.
“Decline in physical, psychomotor, and cognitive performance can occur when 2% or more of body weight is lost due to fluid loss,” says Kerkenbush. “The Institute of Medicine recommend that women drink about 11 cups of water (from food and beverages) daily and men get about 16 cups.”
You can give a kick to your energy in the morning by actively choosing to be energized. Think through how you want your morning and the rest of the day to play out, visualize how you will be getting done what you need to, and imagine yourself as energized and excited. You will likely notice that your body is responding to these energetic thoughts by making you feel physically energetic.
Coffee is a necessity for many, and while a moderate amount has been found to have its share of health (and energy) benefits, there are smart ways and not-so-smart ways to handle a caffeine addiction. One could way to drink coffee better? Delay it.
“Consider waiting to drink that cup of coffee until one to two hours after you wake to really maximize your body’s utilization of the cortisol and the caffeine,” says fitness coach Kylene Terhune (aka The Tiny Fit Diva). “When you wake up, your cortisol levels are at their highest for approximately the first hour of the day. Cortisol gives you that energy to wake up and roll out of bed.”
Waking up feeling great almost always has to do with not just when but how you went to bed. Think through what your morning will look like as you go to bed—maybe setting out clothes or prepping materials you will need to take to work—but also preparing your mindset.
“I’m programming my mind to be clear and ready for the day the night before. I’ve found this to be the single most powerful exercise, and many people have been following suit,” says Natalia Levey, author of Cravings Boss and founder of Healthy Intent. She offers this matra that she thinks before heading to bed: “This is going to be the best night sleep ever. Over the course of the night every cell in my body is going to go through a full process of regeneration. I’m going to wake up renewed, refreshed, and full of energy.”
Gratitude has been found to create all variety of positive effects on a person’s mental well-being, and increasing energy is among them. Making a gratitude exercise part of your morning is an excellent way to boost how you are feeling.
“Instead of waking up stressed out (which is totally energy draining), think of two to three most important things that you are grateful for the opportunity to accomplish today,” says Levey. “How will you change someone’s day, or life? How will you grow?”
There are many advantages to getting your daily workout in on the early side. Chief among them is the skyrocketing energy you will feel after that post-workout shower, dressed and ready for the day. Whether you are working on muscle mass or cardio, getting some exercise in before the day starts can transform how you feel the entire day.
If a full workout is not in the cards, due to lack of time or logistical challenges, squeeze in a seven-minute workout. Backed up by science as the one of the most effective, efficient ways to get in a full-body, high-impact workout, it also requires no special equipment—removing pretty much any excuse you might have for not getting a bit of exercising into your morning.
If you don’t have time for a full-blown workout, a good full-body stretch is the next-best thing. That’s the advice of Robert Herbst, a wellness coach and 19-time world champion powerlifter (so he knows something about accessing stores of energy).
He describes his morning stretch routine, which takes him about 20 minutes: “I concentrate on my lower back, hamstrings, shoulders, and anything else that may be bothering me. The stretching warms the muscles, loosens the joints, gets the blood flowing, and helps me get centered and mentally prepared for the challenges and stresses of the day ahead.”
Sitting is one of the biggest energy killers we encounter in the morning. So outsmart sedentary temptations by upgrading to a standing desk. There are all kinds of fancy ones available, or you can simply scout a spot in your home or office where a laptop can comfortably rest and you can stand upright. You’ll notice the difference in your energy level immediately.
If you want to get really fancy, take your standing desk to the next level with a stepping device.
“Stepping devices can easily slide underneath your desk and out of sight when not in use,” explains Rebecca Lee, a registered nurse and founder of Remedies for Me. “It is inexpensive, near-silent, and can be used while sitting or standing. The movements of the device replicate similar movements to walking.” She points to a study that found that a stepping device can lead to a weight loss of up to 44 pounds per year if sitting is replaced for just two hours of time on the stepping device each day.
“It also found that office-place stepping and cycling increases worker’s energy levels more than walking,” she adds.
Another convenient at-work exercise that Lee recommends are leg lifts. “At the edge of your chair, sit up nice and tall with both feet flat on the floor,” she explains. Raise one leg up in front of you until it is parallel to the floor. Tighten your leg muscles and flex your toes. Hold your tightened leg up for 10 seconds and slowly lower it to the ground. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat 12 times every other hour.”
You can turn your morning commute into a mini cardio workout by walking or biking to work. Research has found these methods are most likely to boost your happiness and give you an energy infusion to boot—while saving you the misery of a packed subway car or traffic-filled freeway.
If you live too far to make biking or walking workable, add a mid-morning stroll to your day by walking around your office or over to a nearby park before lunch (or better yet, do that during lunch, just enjoying a light snack as you go).
“Take a walk around the block for 21 minutes during your lunch break,” suggests Lee. “You can recharge your energy levels while reaping benefits of the sunlight’s Vitamin D.” For more on maintaining your focus levels at work, check out the 20 Biggest Everyday Energy Killers–And How to Avoid Them.
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