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Do you feel sluggish?

Does the Summer heat have you feeling sluggish? Many popular energy-boosting techniques are unnatural, unhealthy and unsustainable. There are countless advertisements for products telling us how they can help you get work done, achieve your goals and more fully participate in life. But what they don't mention is the number of toxins and unwanted ingredients they contain.

Many aspects of your life could benefit from increased energy - your productivity, your creativity, your personal life, and so on. By increasing your energy you can:

  • Maximize focus and productivity for work-related pursuits

  • Have more time to spend with family and friends

  • Experience higher levels of physical fitness

  • Enjoy heightened mental clarity and cognitive functioning

  • Spend more time on your hobbies and cultivate artistic or creative pursuits

If you struggle to gain a stable balance of energy levels, keep reading. There are many simple and natural lifestyle factors to improve your energy levels.

Drink enough water. Dehydration causes low levels of energy and general fatigue. With less water in your system, your blood volume decreases (meaning your heart has to work harder to pump it around). Your blood vessels also constrict, resulting in dehydration headaches. Besides providing an energy boost and fighting off fatigue, drinking water also produces many other benefits such as increasing metabolism, helping with weight loss and aiding in clearer skin. In this way, many physical symptoms of low energy levels are intertwined, and so increasing water intake can often be the most basic first step towards increasing energy.

Improve your nutrition. The foods which provide the body with the most energy-boosting nutrients are those with a low-glycemic level. Foods like beans, brown rice, whole wheat bread and nuts have less impact on your blood sugar than foods with a high glycemic load (like white rice, spaghetti, potatoes and sugary juices and drinks.) Even though we’ve been taught to associate starchy foods with energy-providing principles, refined carbs can play havoc on blood sugar levels, and the long-term effects of consuming them have negative impacts on your energy levels.

Boost your metabolism. Foods good for your metabolism (the force that converts the nutrients in our food to energy) will provide you with a higher level of energy. Optimal metabolism requires an abundance of vitamins and minerals, which provide our cells with the proper fuel needed to release energy. When the nutrients in our food aren’t enough, the cells are low in energy-releasing activity, resulting in tiredness and fatigue. Eating predominantly nutrient-dense foods has been proven to increase energy levels and provide high nutritional value. Increasing your magnesium and vitamin D intake can boost both mood and energy levels, so consuming foods such as bananas, cashews, almonds, dark chocolate, leafy greens and seeds is recommended.

Increase physical movement. The endorphins from an intense workout, and shot of energy received after a period of activity function as a way to increase overall energy. It’s essential to engage in the right kind and intensity of fitness activity to encourage increased energy. Colette Bouchez describes "activities that encourage ‘calm energy’ are more effective at sustaining energy release throughout the day and avoid the danger of burnout or slipping into fatigue." These are things like yoga, tai chi, pilates, and specific strength training. Increasing fitness levels encourage improved sleep patterns, better heart health, and sharper focus. The combined effect of both nutrient-dense foods and exercise is an increase and abundance of health and energy.

Pay attention to your mental health. When you consider the mental energy that’s expended during periods of intense anxiety or depression, or even just a day of being worried, it becomes evident how much of an impact your mental health has on your energy levels. Meditation can help us learn how to direct our energy where we need it to go. If you're new to meditation, start small - trying even 10 minutes in the morning will help you familiarize yourself with the practice and provide a good foundation on which you can build upon for a longer and more regular practice. Meditation helps us to save energy where before it would have been lost on worry and unnecessary problem-solving.

Do what you love. Regularly doing activities that you love and feel strongly about not only increases levels of happiness and contentment, but also helps to produce more energy. By exploring passions, talents, and hobbies, and making time for them in the bustle of everyday life, you're automatically injecting more happiness into your day. What is it that you love to do? Notice how much more energized you feel next time you engage with this activity, and then the next step is simple - do more of it!

Reduce your screen time. A notable change comes over us when we reduce the amount of time we spend ‘plugged in’ to our devices. Not only do we become more present, but we become more alert. When we put down our devices, energy that would previously have gone to scrolling is now free to be used elsewhere.

Spend time in the sun. Did you know that the sun has a direct effect on our energy levels? It’s easy to feel lighter, brighter and more energized when the sun is out. The sun is the most important source of vitamin D that we can get naturally. Vitamin D has a direct relationship with our energy levels. When we are lacking in vitamin D, we are more likely to experience fatigue.

Finally, a quick note about stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, and ‘energy-boosting’ drinks. The irony is that they are more damaging to our health than helpful. Caffeine attaches to adenosine receptors on your brain cells, blocking the quieting effect of this neurotransmitter. The net effect of caffeine, therefore, is stimulation, but your cells cannot generate energy-based activity from caffeine. Some useful natural stimulants include ginseng, B vitamins and coconut oil.

All of this may feel overwhelming. Pick the one that resonates with you the most and start there. If you'd like help getting started, schedule a free consultation with me to break these down into some actionable steps. Firefly also provides many services and programs to help you get back on track with healthy habits.

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