How to Increase Your Energy Levels
Scent your shower. Pick products with citrus, eucalyptus, or mint. “When you smell these scents, a surge of energy flows through the body, which clears the mind of clutter and gives you a quick lift,” says Ann Marie Chiasson, a Tucson-based integrative-medicine physician. (During med-school exam season, Chiasson would put a few drops of peppermint oil on a Kleenex to sniff for an energy boost.)
Edit your closet. If you think just picking an outfit is exhausting, there’s now research to confirm it: In a 2008 study led by the University of Minnesota, students faced with multiple choices had less physical stamina and were more likely to procrastinate. When it comes to choosing what to wear (not to mention making other life decisions), try to limit yourself to fewer than 10 options, says Barry Schwartz, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. (See Define Your Signature Style to learn how to put together a can’t-fail closet.)
Eat a colorful breakfast. If it takes all your mental firepower just to get the coffee going, then you’re probably in no shape to recall the optimal nutritional breakdown for your morning meal. Kim Walls, a clinical nutritionist in Los Angeles, suggests this easy-to-remember “color code”: Pile your plate with 80 percent colorful, unprocessed foods. The rest of the dish should contain a combination of lean protein and complex, fiber-rich carbohydrates, which are slowly digested and keep the blood sugar steady. There’s a colorful (and energizing) dish for every breakfast personality.
If you’re a sweets person:
- Whole-grain French toast (the egg is the protein) with strawberries and maple syrup (limit it to 1 tablespoon).
- A smoothie with blueberries, orange juice, and a scoop of protein powder.
If you’re a savory person:
- Whole-grain tortillas with scrambled eggs or black beans, sliced avocado, sliced tomato, salsa, and fresh cilantro.
- Sliced turkey breast on whole-wheat toast with lettuce, cucumber, and olive-oil mayonnaise.
If you’re not a breakfast person:
- A banana and some raw almonds (about 22).
- A bottle of drinkable fruit yogurt or kefir. Add 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed for a fiber boost.
Take your vitamins. They’re not magic energy pills, but “a lack of vitamins can cause fatigue—especially B vitamins, which convert energy from food into energy your body can use,” says Sara Ryba Matty, a registered dietitian in Scarsdale, New York. If you’re not getting enough nutrient power in your diet, a multivitamin pill could help. Be sure to take it with a meal, says Matty: “Food in the stomach triggers digestive juices that will help break down the vitamins."