Short on energy – and time? Fortunately, recharging your mental and physical batteries can be a quick and easy endeavor. Here are 12 ways to increase your energy in 12 minutes or less.
1. Eat a quick-to-fix breakfast
You don’t have time to be tired, so take a few minutes to eat a satisfying breakfast, particularly one with protein and complex carbohydrates. Studies show that eating a well-balanced breakfast increases energy, improves cognitive function, and can prevent overeating later in the day. Take advantage of heat and eat omelets and breakfast sandwiches, pair all natural sausage with whole grain toast and fresh fruit, spread nut butter on whole grain toaster waffles or English muffins, or whip up a yogurt, granola and fruit smoothie. Quick and simple breakfasts will ensure you start your day satisfied and energized.
2. Take a walk
Start your day with a brisk walk or jog. Believe it or not, 10 to 12 minutes of exercise will do wonders in waking you up and keeping you up. Getting your blood pumping boosts your energy and endorphins, and it provides a bevy of health benefits. The recommended amount of daily exercise is 30 minutes, but you can do it in increments, giving your energy a lift two to three times throughout the day. Ride your bike to work, take a 10-minute power walk at lunch, do a yoga mini-workout or climb the stairs a few times before dinner – simply do some type of physical activity whenever your energy starts to wane.
3. Drink up
As soon as you rise and shine in the morning, drink a glass of water to rehydrate your body. Then drink a glass of water every two to three hours to consume the recommended eight (8-ounce) glasses per day. Even slight dehydration can drain your energy, and it doesn’t take but five minutes or less to drink up. Coffee is another vitality-boosting beverage – in moderation. Limit your intake to one or two cups in the morning, preferably with milk and no sugar, to charge your batteries. The key to using coffee to your advantage is to drink it modestly – too much will not only lead to jitters and an exhausting crash, it will also interfere with your nightly sleep (the most significant factor in keeping your energy high).
4. Breathe deep
Deep breathing reoxygenates your brain and body, boosting your alertness and physical energy while taming tension and promoting calm. Even 10 deep breaths will have a positive effect on your mental and physical energy. You can simply close your eyes and breathe deep, or if you are in the mood to meditate, focus your thoughts on a single word, phrase or mental picture. The mental and physical break as well as the increase in circulation will quickly revive your mind and body. For an extra boost, diffuse essential oils – citrus, spicy, or mint scents – into the air. The fragrance will stimulate the part of your brain responsible for alertness.
5. Snack smart
If you find yourself lethargic, and mealtime is still a couple hours away, nosh a light, healthy snack. A handful of nuts and dried fruit, yogurt and fresh fruit, whole grain crackers with string cheese, a small protein smoothie, or half a sandwich will boost your energy by raising your blood sugar levels and fueling your brain and body. Keep a selection of satisfying snacks in the pantry or at work so a physical and mental recharge is simply a grab away. And be sure to avoid high sugar snacks like candy, cookies and colas – the sugar will give you a quick, short-lived lift that will leave you in an energy tailspin.
6. Strike a pose
When you don’t have time to get to the gym or yoga studio, take a break and do two or three yoga poses, instead. The movement and stretching as well as the deep breathing will help you shed energy-sapping stress and give you instant energy. Keep a yoga website bookmarked on your computer or stash a book with yoga illustrations in your desk – when you start hitting the mid-morning or mid-afternoon energy crash, simply “take 10” and do a Downward Dog or Sun Salutation. Not only will striking a pose revive you, it will also help you stay toned and trim.
7. Clear out the clutter
How drained do you feel when you sit down at your mess of a desk or walk into the laundry pile called your closet? Clutter drains you of energy because it is a visual representation of your procrastination. Every nagging out-of-place item adds to the need-to-clean monkey on your back. Take 12 minutes to pay your bills, file documents, page through an old unread magazine, fold your clean clothes, or iron a shirt or two. By no means will you get your office or living space in order in 12 minutes, but clearing out even a little bit of clutter will give you a surge of energy – and accomplishment.
8. Have a well-balanced lunch
Eating a combination of protein, complex-carbohydrates and a little fat midday will stave of hunger and fatigue and keep you sustained through the afternoon. Have an egg-salad or omelet sandwich on whole-grain bread, toss chunks of tuna packed in olive oil on your salad, spread a whole-grain tortilla with hummus, or savor a salmon vegetable chowder topped with whole-grain croutons. Make sure your serving sizes are satisfying but not so heavy that they weigh you down and give you the post-meal yawns. Packing your lunch the night before will save you prep time at noon so all you have to do is sit down and eat.
9. Refresh with water
In addition to making sure you are well-hydrated, the next time you feel mentally or physically spent, splash some cool water on your face. It will revive you, brighten your eyes, and refresh your skin. In addition, run cold water on your hands and the underside of your wrists – if being too warm is making you drowsy, the cold water will cool you off (cold water on your wrists is much quicker – and easier on the hair and make-up – than taking a cool shower).
10. Have a ball
Remember the fun you had as a kid bouncing on the hop balls fitted with a handle? Bouncing on a fitness ball as an adult is just as much fun, and the increase in circulation – not to mention total body workout – it provides will give you an effortless energy boost. Bouncing even for a couple of minutes will wake you up. And you can take a few more minutes to do some ab curls, side stretches and back extensions to relieve any tiresome tension. You may even consider sitting on a large fitness ball instead of a chair while you are at work – you’ll improve your posture and, when fatigued, be able to rebound with a bounce.
11. Write an agenda
When your brain is overwhelmed with mental to-do lists, appointments, deadlines and the myriad of other daily thoughts, it puts a strain on your energy. An easy way to unload your mind is to write down (or type) all the things you need to remember – times, dates, places, thoughts, and any other ideas you find significant. You’ll clear your head, feel refreshed, and be able to focus your new-found energy on things you really enjoy doing.
Hug your kids, best pal or furry friend, or cuddle up to your main squeeze. Studies prove that welcome touch as well as supportive relationships can provide, among other health benefits, relief from stress, which is a number one energy drain. Not only will you feel better, you’ll emotionally nourish a loved one, too. And what better way to spend 12 minutes!