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boost your energyToday’s accelerated pace of life, constant demands and distractions from mobile tech and the glorification of being perpetually busy all have left many of us exhausted. Endless stress, greater demands and pressure to “have it all” can wear out even the hardiest individuals.

Let’s face it. Lots of us are tired. Lots of the time.

No shame in admitting this, as we typically don’t get enough sleep. That leaves us desperately relying on caffeine and other supplements to try to strengthen our stamina simply to get through the day. But it doesn’t have to be like this.

Just in time for the madness of the holiday season, here’s how to boost your energy in other healthy ways.

How to Boost Your Energy

  1. Eat right. No surprise here, as food is our body’s fuel, so it is smart to emphasize nutritious choices like lean meats, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables and low-fait dairy products. Processed foods and high-sugar options can lead to a blood sugar spike, followed by a crash, which drags down energy. Don’t skip meals either, which causes blood sugar drops that sap energy.

Eating healthy requires some planning and prep, in terms of having quick breakfast items ready to go, packing your lunch, carrying nutritious snacks and making dinner at home. But the upfront investment pays off because you’ll have more energy and better health.

  1. Hydrate. Dehydration is more common than people realize, and causes sagging energy, headaches, irritability, lightheadedness and more. Boost your energy by drinking water throughout the day, and make this a no-brainer by keeping a bottle in your car, at work, in your gym bag and wherever else you go.

If you enjoy the caffeine boost from coffee, tea, or cola, realize that these drinks, in fact, are dehydrators, so follow them up with a glass of water. If you’re bored with plain water, add a slice of lemon, or sip some of the many flavored sparkling waters. And limit alcohol, which is a depressant and a diuretic, and which can interrupt sleep.

  1. Exercise. Although it may be challenging sometimes to get going, workouts indeed boost energy by stimulating breathing and circulation, engaging the muscles and moving the bones and joints. Particularly for those of us who sit a lot at work, regular exercise is critical for overall health. And while it’s great to push yourself, you don’t have to kill it in every workout so that you end up totally drained. Take on different workouts at various intensity levels to keep your body progressing, mind engaged and endorphins flowing.
  1. Manage stress. Chronic stress taxes both the mind and the body, taking a toll over time and leaving you run down, which not only causes fatigue but increases your susceptibility to illness. Even when it feels like you don’t have a second to spare – and especially then – it’s valuable to carve out time to alleviate stress, such as going for a walk, playing with the dog, listening to music, meditating, journaling or reading a book. Ask for help to manage obligations, and cut back responsibilities where you can to better manage your load. Again, this investment increases your energy level for the long haul.
  1. Rest. Of course, more sleep helps raise energy, so aim for a consistent schedule of bedtimes and wake times to establish a rhythm. Aim for 7-8 hours if possible, which may mean reducing screen time in the evening or DVR-ing your favorite shows to watch later. Short daytime naps also can fill in some shut-eye gaps, but keep them under one hour so as not to disrupt nighttime slumber.