03/11/2020 Mind-Body Health
When you think of energy boosts, your first thought might be of reaching for some caffeine—coffee, tea, or soda. But boosting your energy might be even easier. And cheaper!
Do you find yourself barely making it through the day? Are you exhausted long before it’s technically time to fall asleep? It’s not surprising that stress is a major cause of fatigue and yet this is the state of being many people have become accustomed to living. It’s important to start exploring ways to use the body and mind in ways that help you thrive rather than just getting by on fumes when you feel sluggish.
If you want to learn how to have more energy, it all starts with just a few simple habits. You may be accustomed to seeking outside yourself for a solution when there is a wealth of natural vitality within you just waiting to be tapped into. It’s possible to live a life full of optimism and vigor by consciously adapting your choices and practices that invite more energy rather than decrease it. So, ditch that cup of coffee, stop hitting your snooze button and keep reading for healthy ways to boost your energy.
1. Get Good Sleep
According to Ayurveda, sleep is the nursemaid to humanity—for good reason. A good night’s sleep helps the body and mind recover from the stresses of the day, allowing you to wake up feeling refreshed and energized. It also helps to sustain your energy levels throughout the day so you don’t fall prey to the “afternoon slump” quite as easily. Unfortunately, with the chaos of the world, good sleep can be elusive. Insomnia and lack of adequate sleep is a real health epidemic.
While there are countless sleep aids available on the market, it’s important to try and restore the body’s natural sleep-wake cycles. Stay conscious of how many hours of sleep you get each night. In doing this, you activate the body’s own healing intelligence, which leads to a good night’s sleep. Ayurveda offers helpful tools to achieve more restful sleep. It’s important to make this a priority in your life for good health and vitality.
2. Establish an Inspiring Morning Routine
How you start the day sets the trajectory for how the rest of your day will unfold. If you start off feeling apathetic and sluggish, it tends to be the theme of the day. If you start off frenetic and scrambling to get ready, you might feel like you spend the rest of your day trying to catch up. Both are extremely tiring to maintain for an entire day. Instead, it’s helpful to anchor yourself through a morning routine that enhances the type of day you wish to have.
You have your morning ablutions, which you move through pretty mindlessly—waking up, drinking coffee, taking a shower, brushing teeth, and then the day begins. This is not inspiring. Start to think of morning rituals you can do to add some energy in your life. Here are a few ideas to help you get out of bed each morning:
- Prepare the night before—a morning routine runs smoothly if you have it planned out ahead of time.
- Splash cold water on your face as soon as you wake up.
- Journal—It’s a great way to release worry and tension, which are energy zappers.
- Stretch and move—perform a few rounds of sun salutations.
Of course, the first obstacle you might have to overcome is that you don’t have enough time. Set yourself up for success and start with small things. Ultimately, you end up having more time in your day because of the energy you have to complete tasks faster, leaving time for the fun stuff too.
3. Perform Self-Massage
Doing a self-massage might be the last thing you think of when deciding how to have more energy in your day. It is, however, one of the cornerstones of maintaining good health and longevity according to Ayurveda. Good health also means more energy. In Sanskrit, the language of Ayurveda, the word for oil is sneha, which is also the word for “love” or “affection.” Doing a warm oil massage on oneself, or abhyanga, is one of the most important expressions of self-love. When performed with intention, it feels like you received a warm, loving hug. As a result, self-massage is known to promote numerous health benefits— physically, mentally, and emotionally.
There are many reasons why self-massage is so valued, one of them being that it is an effective way to clear energy channels in the body by moving and dislodging toxins and balancing the energy centers or chakras. When your body is able to rid itself of waste or anything that is preventing it from functioning optimally, you have more energy. Anything you can do to help “lighten up the load” will always be beneficial in some way, even if it’s subtle. Here are more benefits of self-massage that help improve energy levels:
- Provides better circulation
- Reduces levels of stress hormones
- Increases immunity and stamina
- Promotes restful sleep
Completing a self-massage can take anywhere from five to 15 minutes, depending on how much time you have, though the longer the better. There are different oils you can use and application techniques depending on if you need calming, soothing, or invigorating. When in doubt, listen to your intuition to determine what suits you best in a particular moment. Start loving on yourself today.
4. Breathe Deep
Next time you feel low on energy, take a deep breath. Without breath, there would be no life. It connects the inner world of the mind with the outer world of the body and environment. Notice how stress causes your body to constrict and your breath to become shallow—bodily functioning becomes more of an effort, making you feel fatigued. On the other hand, during physical activity (running especially) you’re forced to take in deep breaths, which contributes to a “runner’s high” and a feeling of being enlivened. Just as your state of mind and body influences breath, the breath is able to shift the state of mind and body as well.
When directed consciously, the breath can be used as a great tool for stoking energy and vitality when you feel tired. The effects are felt immediately. Your body craves it, especially during times of low energy and is also why you may find yourself sighing. Pranayama is the Sanskrit term for control and governance of life force (prana) through the breath and is used in Ayurveda as an important tool for everyday health. To help give you a taste of the power of your breath, try this simple breathing exercise.
Quick Breathing Exercise
Take a moment to close your eyes and place one hand on your belly. Breathing in through your nose, take a slow deep breath in and feel the belly rise. At the top of your breath, exhale through the nose and feel the belly slightly contract as you squeeze all the air out. Continue inhaling and exhaling in this manner for three to five rounds. When complete, remain with your eyes closed and notice how you feel.
An effective pranayama exercise to gain an energy boost is called the bhastrika breath. You can incorporate this as part of your morning routine or use it when you feel depleted during the day. Yoga instructors can usually offer some instruction or you can find videos on the internet that demonstrate how to perform it. The techniques might vary a bit, but the effect is the same.
5. Have Some Fun
It’s easy to forget how important it is to have fun and maybe get a little silly when you’re busy. If you can’t change a particular situation right away, you can change your reaction to it and seek out experiences that boost your energy and clear your mind. Here are a few activities to help re-energize your life when you feel sluggish:
- Regularly connect with good friends.
- Go on a nature walk.
- Try laughter meditation.
- Listen to music that gets you moving.
- Use some energizing essential oil.
- Try feet up the wall pose.
Some of these are quick energy boost ideas and some are nice to incorporate on a regular basis for ongoing good health and happiness. The important thing is that you are getting out of your head and enjoying the moment.
In addition to the five ideas above, don’t forget to pay attention to your eating habits. The different foods you put in your body can also affect your energy levels. Try to eat healthy, leafy greens that are full of nutrients to give you a boost. Additionally, be conscious of what you drink, and know that energy drinks and your daily cup of coffee aren’t your only options. Try to drink green tea to achieve a more natural energy boost, or just stick to water instead!
These are just a few of the ways to help increase your energy throughout the day. You’ve heard of the importance of exercise and a healthy diet, and it’s more a matter of doing it and sticking to it. It’s also important to take care of your emotional well-being; when you are happy there is infinite energy, but when you are sad or depressed there is little energy to pull from. Any of the recommendations mentioned here will help support and nurture all aspects of your life, not just increase your energy. You might be surprised by what you discover.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; it does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
Learn how to make the best choices each day for health and happiness with our introductory online course, Discovering Ayurveda. Learn More.