Most people living in the modern world are after more energy. We work too hard, make more commitments than we can handle, and—at least for most people—getting enough sleep is a laughably unrealistic dream. Add aging to the mix, and we’re done for.
But even post-40, there are plenty of strategies you can use up your drive for both work and play. From mental tricks to key nutrients to add to your diet to scheduling smarter, here’s how to boost your energy so you can make your 40s your best decade yet. And if you find yourself in need of an energy boost right this second, try one of these 50 Ways To Be a Higher-Energy Person Immediately.
Schedule your downtime
The urge to do everything and take advantage of all opportunities may be strong, but the reality is that when you’re in your 40s, you can’t constantly bounce from one thing to the next without taking a break. Schedule in rest time in between social and family obligations, and you’ll find yourself feeling more excited about everything on your plate rather than overwhelmed and run down.
Think about your significant other
File this under: Weird energy tricks that actually work. According to a study in Psychophysiology, thinking about a romantic partner can boost blood glucose and “eustress” (aka the good kind of stress) levels, which provides a boost of energy over time. Whether you’ve been with your partner for ages or are seeing someone new, it looks like thinking about them often could work wonders for your perkiness. And if you don’t have a partner yet, be sure you know The Secret to Making a Great First Impression.
Eat every four hours
To feel your best, you need fuel in the tank, which means not leaving long gaps between meals and snacks. Instead of of having just three square meals a day, make sure you’re not going longer than four hours without food.
Sleep less to sleep more
Yes, really. As we age, it becomes more and more tempting to spend time in bed without actually sleeping. This can make it harder for you to get good quality sleep, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Here’s the solution they suggest: Don’t nap during the day, and start out with just four hours of sleep per night.
For as long as you feel you’re getting good quality sleep during the time you’re in bed, keep adding 15 to 30 minutes of sleep per night. This method encourages more restful sleep in the long-term, even though it might seem counterintuitive at first. These 70 Tips For Your Best Sleep Ever should lead you in the right direction.
Up your potassium intake
Potassium is a nutrient you don’t hear about as often as others, but it’s important to your energy levels and overall health, especially as you get older. One of the biggest benefits of the nutrient is improved heart health and lower blood pressure, and being deficient in it can seriously zap your desire to do anything or go anywhere. Adults need around 4,700 milligrams of the stuff per day, which is actually quite a lot. Incorporate foods like avocado, spinach, dried apricots, and sweet potato to ensure you’re getting enough of the stuff. These are all some of the 30 Best Foods for Maximizing Your Energy Levels.
Get that annual physical
The truth is, when you hit your 40s, there are some physiological reasons you might be feeling low energy, from thyroid imbalances to perimenopause to lower testosterone levels. If you’re feeling low on fuel all the time, it’s worth checking in with your doctor about what’s going on; it could be a quick and easy fix. Also, it will help you to know the 10 Secrets for Maximizing Any Doctor’s Visit.
Keep some peppermint oil handy
You might think essential oils are BS, but some of them are actually research-backed. “Peppermint is that essential oil that you need on the nightstand,” says Isaac Jones, DC, a functional nutrition expert and chiropractor. “Whether you were out too late with friends or you were up rocking a teething baby, peppermint will do the trick when you need to wake up and get going. It will also boost your performance throughout the day. A study in the Journal of Phytomedicine showed significant improvement in athletic performance when subjects were given peppermint oil.”
Have more sex
Particularly in the morning. It might be hard to get in “the mood” when you’re low on energy, but testosterone levels are highest when you rise, which means it’s the ideal time to get busy. Aside from a healthier relationship (which is definitely always a plus), you can expect a decent oxytocin boost—a hormone that reduces stress, leaving you with the ability to feel more energized. For more, check out the 40 Ways to Have a Healthy Sex Life After 40.
Hack your mitochondria
Longevity is the new anti-aging, and keeping your mitochondria—the energy producers in your cells—in good shape is one of the keys to feeling young and energized in your 40s.
One of the best ways to do this, according to research, is exercise, although you’ll need to be strategic about what kind. Instead of just focusing on low or high intensity exercise, you’ll need to do both. Research presented at the American College of Sports Medicine 2016 meeting suggested that average people need just two out of every ten workouts to be high intensity to reap mitochondrial benefits. And for more exercise advice, check out the 40 Great Exercises for Adding Muscle Over 40.
Try a next-gen vitamin B supplement
While we’re talking about cellular structure, there’s also brand new research showing that a compound called NAD+ is more important for reducing signs of aging than previously thought.
“There’s a compound called NAD+ found in every cell of our bodies. It helps our cells do their jobs, and is linked to our energy levels and healthier aging,” explains Alyssa Dweck, M.D., a practicing gynecologist in Westchester County, New York. “But our NAD+ levels decline substantially as we age, and poor lifestyle habits also deplete our NAD+ levels, so our cells may not perform their jobs as well as they once did. Several clinical studies have now shown that supplementing with a cutting-edge form of vitamin B3 called Tru Niagen (also called NR) helps to replenish NAD+ levels.” And for advice on what supplements you should definitely pass on, here are 20 Facts About the Supplement Industry That Will Horrify You.
Take the right vitamins
If you haven’t already started taking a vitamin, now is the time. “In this age group, it is especially important to get additional vitamin D, B vitamins, and often iron and magnesium,” says Arielle Levitan M.D., Co-founder Vous Vitamin. “We all have individual needs based on our own diets, lifestyles, and health concerns. Getting the right nutrients can make a huge difference in how you sleep, exercise, focus and your level of energy.”
Deal with debt
Research suggests that stress about debt—credit card debt in particular—is detrimental to your health. Stress is one of the biggest stamina zappers, so by coming up with a plan to pay off debt, you’ll lighten your emotional load. And, hey, if you’re one of those who likes to play the lottery, here are the Most Common Powerball Winning Numbers.
Get your flow on
While all exercise is a good idea if you need a refresh, yoga has been shown to have an especially energizing effect in people of all ages—even those ages 65 to 85!
Try some mental gymnastics
It’s easy to get stressed about everything going on in your life, especially when you start dealing with issues that often arise in your 40s: health crises, financial strains, and work challenges.
Instead of focusing on everything going wrong, shift your perspective by imagining your life without all the good stuff you currently have going on. Sometimes, this mental exercise can help people adjust their perspective and feel rejuvenated after realizing how lucky they are to have certain positive aspects of their lives in place.
Maintain a healthy weight
Keeping your weight in check is common health advice and the reason is simple: Carrying around an extra load can be draining on energy stores. This becomes even more crucial when you hit your 40s, since it becomes harder to lose weight as you age.
According to research done by the CDC, around 42 percent of women in the U.S. in their 40s and 50s are obese, along with 38 percent of men in the same age group. If you’re at a healthy weight, one of the best things you can do for your energy is to maintain it. If you’re not, check in with a healthcare professional about what you can do to get to a healthier place.
Load up on lycopene
Lycopene, a phytonutrient that gives tomatoes their red color, is a powerful antioxidant that can enhance brain function and mental focus. Get yours by eating more fruits and veggies like tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit, or opt for a standalone supplement. As an added bonus, lycopene is amazing for your eye health, which can begin to decline around age 40.
Eat fat first, carbs later
We’re talking about healthy fats of course, like avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and more. “Eating fat as your first meal can regulate your metabolism and keep you satiated throughout the day,” explains Naomi Whittel, author of New York Times best-selling book, Glow15. “This will help your body process fat as fuel, and by saving carbs for your last meal, you’ll positively impact your serotonin levels, allowing for optimal rest and repair time for your body leaving you rested and ready to tackle the next day.”
Doing things you don’t want to do because you feel like you have to is simply something you’ll have to give up in your 40s if you want to feel energized. “There’s a strong link between overwork and fatigue, and fatigue absolutely drains energy, both physically and emotionally,” explains Kristina Hallett, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and executive coach. “Good boundaries and learning to say no go a long way to reviving energy, which also leads to happiness when you make the time to do what fulfills and enlivens you.
Vary your protein sources
Eating enough protein is essential for keeping up with your to-do list, but it’s also important to switch up where you’re getting it from, according to a review published in Osteoporosis International. Retaining muscle mass, which naturally starts to decline with each year that passes, is crucial for maintaining vitality, but this review suggests that getting all of your protein from animal sources can actually cause muscle loss to happen at a faster rate. Mix things up with some plant-based protein sources like lentils, quinoa, and tofu to promote muscle retention.
Keep lively friends close
Who you surround yourself with matters, especially when you have limited social time to spare. Research shows that your social circle really does have the power to influence you, from how you go about making choices to how much self-control you have. Energy is part of the equation, too, so make an effort to spend time with those who are are “up” more than they’re “down” and reap the benefits.
Snacking can really come through with an energy boost when you need it, but in your 40s, you’ll need to be a little more strategic about what you put into your body to achieve the desired result. The magic combination? Protein, a little fat, and fiber. The protein will provide an energy boost, the fiber keeps you full, and the fat helps the effect last longer.
Skip the afternoon java
Caffeine is an energy booster—duh. And while you might have slugged the stuff all day in your 20s and 30s, chances are that method isn’t working for you anymore. That’s because drinking caffeine past 2PM can cause more harm than good for your energy levels (especially the next day) by inhibiting your ability to sleep soundly. Limit caffeine consumption to the AM and early PM hours for optimal energy levels.
Throw some maca in your smoothie
Adaptogens, or naturally-occuring substances that help your body deal with stress, are trending at the moment. Maca, a plant that natively grows in Peru, is especially known for its energy-enhancing benefits. It most often comes in powder form, so toss a scoop in your daily smoothie for a much-needed pick-me-up.
Take a mental health day
Because you deserve it.
Forget juice cleanses; the body has a natural way of cleansing itself, also known as autophagy, which literally means “self-eating.” It might sound freaky, but it’s totally natural and even good for your body to get rid of cell parts it no longer needs and use them to create new ones. You can encourage this process with exercise, fasting, a low carb diet, but Whittel also suggests “AutophaTea,” which can be made at home from whole citrus bergamot Earl Grey tea, green tea, cinnamon, and coconut oil. “Each ingredient is proven to boost energy, burn fat faster, increase immunity, and fight the diseases of aging,” she says.
…And intermittent fasting
Speaking of fasting, the trendy intermittent fasting approach may help some people in their 40s achieve better energy levels. “Intermittent fasting (periods of unrestricted and restricted eating) along with protein cycling (periods of normal or high protein consumption and low protein consumption) create ‘good’ stress in your body as the body starts to sense that no nutrients are coming in; your autophagy is activated thus helping your cells initiate the recycling process,” Whittel explains.
Skip the energy bar
Opt for real food instead. Lots of people think protein or energy bars will provide a quick energy boost, and that’s true—they might—but it’s usually because of their high sugar content, which means you have a pretty decent chance of crashing later in the day. Instead, opt for something less processed for longer-burning fuel.
Make time for whatever makes you happy
“When we are happy, we are better able to focus, concentrate, and have greater motivation to tackle challenging tasks,’ Dr. Hallett explains. In other words, you’ll have more energy if you simply set aside time for hobbies and activities you love. By the time you reach your 40s, you should have a pretty good idea of what those are.
Watch something funny
Not only will this provide a mood boost, but research also shows that laughing can help you stay alert and awake when you’re feeling depleted. Who knew? And while a walk or quick workout might not be possible when you’re dealing with kids, work, dinner, whatever—pulling up a funny video on your phone or computer is a cinch. And if you’re having movie night, here are the 30 Funniest Movies of All Time.
Get familiar with your personal body clock
The most common energy advice involves waking up early in the morning and going to bed early at night. That might work for some people, but research suggests that how your own personal circadian rhythm works is highly individual and genetically determined. By your 40s, you know yourself pretty well, and it’s safe to say you have a handle on when you naturally feel most energized during the day. If the “early to rise, early to bed” advice doesn’t hold true for you, do your own thing and find a sleep/waking schedule that makes sense for your own personal biology.
Improve your posture
Low energy can be influenced by poor posture, according to research. If you haven’t gotten this sorted out by the time you hit your 40s, now is the time.
Let it go
If you’re still holding a grudge against someone from your 30s, 20s, or even earlier, now is the time to deal with any lingering anger and move on. Anger literally drains you of energy, so take a cue from that movie your kids have been watching on repeat for the past few years and let it go.
Swap coffee for yerba mate
Coffee is great, but it can be tough on the digestive system as you age. If your daily coffee habit is messing with your GI tract, try a gut-friendly alternative like yerba mate, which has around 30 t0 40 mg of caffeine per cup, making it safe to sip on all AM. Need a bigger boost? Try the powdered version, which can pack up to 220 mg of caffeine, similar to what you’d find in a strong cup of coffee.
Take fish oil
You’ve likely heard about the brain-boosting benefits of fish oil, so why not give it a try? One study published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation showed that volunteers who took fish oil for 35 days exhibited faster mental reaction times and felt more vigorous and less depressed than before.
Give up procrastinating
Nothing pulls the life out of you like worrying about something you have to do that you’d really rather not do, and by your 40s, you really need to learn to skip procrastinating in favor of something a little more realistic.
“The way to give up procrastination is to use postponement instead and be rigorously honest about your intentions,” Randi Gunther Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today. “If you aren’t really going to do something until the last minute, and you’ve given up fooling yourself, just plan on doing it when you know you will. You can only do what is in front of you. Stirring up a major worry attack will not only get the job done, but take away from your enjoyment and competence in what you are doing in the moment.”
Eat more berries
The more plants you can get into your diet, the better, and berries are not only nutritional powerhouses, but they’re also truly natural energy boosters thanks to their anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins help to reduce oxidative stress and may even keep our minds sharp as we get older.
Speed things up
When you’re feeling sluggish, try adding a hit of speed to whatever you’re doing. Research suggests that forcing your brain to read faster, talk more quickly, or jot down notes at a lightning-fast pace may help your body catch up.
Wash your face with cold water
Need a super quick way to perk yourself up? Splash some cold water on your face, and you’ll be good to go, at least temporarily. Cold water stimulates your nervous system, giving you a jolt of awareness when you need it most.
Put on a bright red shirt
Research shows that looking at something bright red can help you feel focused when you need a refresher, and one of the easiest ways to make sure you see the color throughout the day is to simply wear it.
Tell yourself you have enough energy
When all else fails, try simply telling yourself you have sufficient juice in the tank to do whatever it is you need to get done today. By removing the idea that you’re too tired to get anything done, you might just find you have more energy than you thought.
Wake up on the right side of the bed with these 30 Best Ways to Get More Energy Before Noon.
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