Feeling tired? These 5 simple strategies can help you feel more energized!
Ask someone how they’re doing and you’ll probably get a, “Good, but tired.” Being exhausted has become a new normal for many people.
American culture is notorious for nonstop working, rushing and doing. Capitalism is king and we’ve come to equate success with hours spent working and money earned. And, the growing wealth gap, political climate and less-than-positive news media only adds to feelings of stress and exhaustion. We are burned out.
For many of us, it may not be realistic to do less. We need to work to earn money to support ourselves and our families. We may be responsible for caring for children, parents and others. Life is demanding.
The question is, how do you take care of yourself in a world that is constantly wearing you down?
The key is to start with small, manageable changes and keep adding on. You don’t have to make a huge lifestyle overhaul. Consider asking yourself, “What’s one thing I could do to care for myself right now?”
It all starts with prioritizing your own self-care. Remember: You deserve to feel good. You deserve time and energy and compassion and love.
Here are some simple strategies that lay the foundation of self-care and maximizing energy.
Eat Enough Food
Sounds easy enough, right? Food is energy! If you’re thinking, “Duh,” I hear you. But you’d be surprised how many people rush around between work and errands and commitments without feeding themselves! Are you one of those people?
We need food (energy) about every 3 to 4 hours. This means that 3 meals and 2-3 snacks are what it takes to provide steady energy to get you through the day. If this sounds overwhelming, start with adding one more meal or snack.
Here’s a quick guide to creating quick and easy meals that are also nutritious and delicious.
If eating enough food is a big struggle for you, let me help! I provide one-on-one nutrition counseling and self-care coaching. We can develop goals and strategies that work for you and your lifestyle and preferences. Learn more here.
Get Enough Nutrients
Consuming enough energy is one thing, but you also need to get enough nutrients. This includes macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) and micronutrients (all the vitamin and minerals).
You don’t need a rigid meal plan or intense food tracking app to get enough nutrients. You can use the plate method as a tool to build balanced meals that help you feel satisfied. A super brief summary of the plate method is having a grain, protein food, fruit and/or veggie, and calcium source at every meal. At a minimum. Then you add on seasonings, fats, garnishes, etc.
Life isn’t perfect and meals aren’t always nutritionally balanced – and that’s OK. But striving to include the above food groups in the majority of your meals is a worthy goal.
You could also consider taking a multivitamin/mineral to cover any gaps you might have in micronutrient intake. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplements.
Here is a quick guide to dietary supplements for vegans.
All nutrients are necessary for feeling your best but here are a few that are particularly important for energy (and some examples of where to find them):
- Carbohydrates (grains, pasta, bread, potatoes, beans, corn, peas, fruit, sugar)
- Iron (spinach, Swiss chard, tempeh, soy milk, almonds, pistachios, iron-fortified cereal)
- B vitamins*, including folate (leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, fruit)
- Magnesium (spinach, almonds, cashews, soy milk, black beans, peanut butter)
- Zinc (pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas, corn, oatmeal, lentils)
*Vegans must consume a dietary supplement or plenty of fortified foods containing vitamin B12 as the active form of this nutrient cannot be obtained from plant foods.
Psst… you know what is a huge risk factor for not getting enough nutrients? Dieting! This research article found young women who are physically active and who diet are at higher risk for micronutrient deficiencies.
If not dieting, then what? Intuitive eating! Here’s a free beginner’s guide to eating intuitively.
Drink Plenty of Water
Did you know that being even slightly dehydrated can have a significant impact on how you feel? Get ahead of dehydration by drinking water throughout the day!
The easiest way to achieve this is to keep a full water bottle with you or next to you and take frequent sips (you may need to set reminders). However, if you’re not able to keep water with you, how do you get enough fluid?
Remember that water isn’t the only thing that can hydrate you. Non-alcoholic fluids such as coffee, tea, milks and juices also help with hydration. Fruit and high-water veggies such as cucumbers, tomatoes and celery also contribute to a day’s fluid intake. And soup! Don’t forget about soup.
It can also be fun to jazz up water with fruit, herbs and a splash of juice. I love adding a splash of lime juice to seltzer water – it’s super refreshing and can be more appetizing than plain water.
If you find that you’re intentionally dehydrating yourself so that you use the restroom less often, talk with your healthcare provider about how to manage this. Whether it’s due to mobility, busyness or anything else, dehydrating yourself isn’t the answer!
Get Enough Sleep
Seems obvious enough but how many of us aren’t getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults?
Here’s the thing: only a tiny percentage of adults can function well on less than 7 hours of sleep. Yet many people seem to think they don’t need more than a few hours. The reality is people are masking chronic sleep deprivation with caffeine which only impairs sleep further.
When it comes to getting enough sleep, you really need to make it a priority. There will always been reasons to stay up later. It takes some serious self-discipline to stick to a bedtime but the benefits are so worth it!
Try these strategies for bedtime:
- Set a reminder or alarm on your phone 1 hour before you want to get into bed.
- During that hour, turn off screens, do your nighttime hygiene routine, slip into your PJs, and perhaps do some reading or light bedtime yoga.
- Try guided meditations or sleep stories.
- Consider diffusing lavender essential oil.
- Keep screens off in the bedroom (i.e. no TV or phone in bed).
- Use the restroom right before getting into bed.
- Make sure the room is cool and that you have plenty of cozy blankets.
- Set your alarm for 8 to 9 hours after you turn off the lights.
If you want extra motivation to make sleep a priority, read Arianna Huffington’s The Sleep Revolution! (affiliate link)
Keep up with Stress Management
Bogged down with everything life throws your way? Stress can wreak havoc on the body. Not only by making you feel tired, but also by causing inflammation and increasing your risk for chronic diseases.
Keeping stress in check is a key strategy to protect your energy.
It’s not realistic to eliminate stress from your life. Rather, how can you 1) Minimize stress, and 2) Manage stress effectively?
First make a list of your stressors. Then categorize them into “avoidable” and “unavoidable.” Take a look at the “avoidable” list – where can you cut back? Do you need to employ some new systems to maximize efficiency and time management? Do you need to say “no” more often? Are there specific people you need to set boundaries with? Do you need to get your butt to bed earlier so you’re not snoozing your alarm and rushing around every morning?
Then look at the “unavoidable” list and ask yourself if those stressors are actually unavoidable. If yes, that’s fine. But you may be surprised that with an open mind and some creativity you might be able to decrease the level of stress in those “unavoidable” areas as well.
As for managing stress, it’s best to get a solid self-care routine in place so that stress doesn’t build up and then break you down. Self-care doesn’t have to be super time-consuming, expensive or luxurious.
Self-care can be a 5-minute stretching routine in the morning, a quick walk during lunch and journaling before bed. It can be yoga, meditation, sleep, food, music, art, therapy, medicine, sex, tea, prayer, visiting with friends and family.
I strongly recommend finding a psychotherapist or counselor you vibe with and working with them to develop strategies to help you manage stress. You don’t need to have a clinical mental health condition to see a therapist or counselor! I believe everyone can benefit from talking to a professional.
In addition to nutrition counseling, I offer self-care coaching for my clients! Click here to learn more.