The alarm goes off and you feel like you could stay in bed for days. You know how old cartoons showed Tom and Jerry’s Tom using toothpicks to prop open his eyelids? Does this seem like you? Do you guzzle coffee or Monster drinks thinking it will boost your low energy levels only to find you’re still exhausted (but now you’re jittery and tired)?
We’ve all wondered how to fight fatigue. It seems to come and go in phases, but in the winter time especially, it seems like many of us suffer from low energy levels, feeling tired, run down and worn out.
If you’re looking for ways to get a little more pep and energy (or at least keep your eyes open at work), here are 12 fail proof ways to kick your low energy levels to the curb.
1. Adopt a Consistent Morning Routine
I know it’s boring, but getting up at a consistent time each morning is one of the most important ways to boost your regular energy levels and fight fatigue. I realize no one wants to hear this, but waking up early is a consistent trait of successful people. If you want to get energized you’ve got to get up.
It’s not just about avoiding the snooze button though. Having a morning routine can help you switch into “day mode.” If you get up every morning, do yoga, make coffee, eat breakfast, shower, dress and go to work, it all becomes automatic. Even on weekends, do the same routine (minus the going to work part). You’ll feel more awake and ready to tackle life.
2. Drink Caffeine (but Not too Much)
I’m a coffee lover and I used to be a Diet Dr. Pepper addict, but I quite DDP cold turkey a few years back. I keep my coffee intake to about 16 ounces in the morning. If I need a boost around midday I drink unsweetened iced or hot tea. Yes, it’s a little boring compared to my days of jitters and then exhaustion, but it keeps my energy levels consistent.
For most people a cup or two of coffee isn’t such a bad boost (the FDA says four cups is the max). Even an occasional diet soda won’t derail your energy flow. But if you are constantly trying to wind up your energy and then wind it back down you’re going to become a worn out, caffeine-addicted mess.
If you want more energy, exercise. Yes, it seems counter-intuitive to go for a run if you’re already exhausted, but when you work out, you get an endorphin boost. You’ll see great benefits such as improved mood, better sleep patterns and of course better energy levels.
If you’re feeling particularly exhausted or run down, start light. Do something you really love–running, dancing, kickboxing or spinning. Find the exercise that makes you feel energized and uplifted and then keep doing it. Every. Damn. Day.
4. Eat Protein
This is especially important if you follow a plant-based diet. Many omnivores already get plenty of protein. If you’re feeling low energy it could be due to low iron levels (more leafy greens!) or due to simply not getting enough nutrition. Protein sticks with you and helps you avoid the crash-and-burn you get from carbohydrates and sugar.
Try almond butter on celery or an apple. Drink a smoothie with a scoop of Vega. Eat some hummus on whole grain crackers or carrot sticks. Seitan has tons of protein. (21 grams a serving!) So try some Tofurky or Field Roast slices on toast with a little avocado. You’ll have plenty of energy.
5. Take a Walk
Feeling the slump of low energy levels at work? Get out and take a quick walk. If you can’t go outside, take a lap around your office, stand up at your desk or just try to do a few quick exercises at work.
If you have a longer lunch hour, schedule in a workout or at least a quick walk around the block. Getting outside for a minute will clear your head and ease fatigue. Seeing the sunshine (even in the winter) will give you a mood lift.
6. Drink Water
Often dehydration masks as exhaustion. We may think we’re tired, but we’re really thirsty and dehydrated. If you’re starting to feel a slump, take your walk to the water cooler and get some water.
Drinking water throughout the day has a myriad of health benefits. You’ll feel more focused and awake. You’ll boost your metabolism. You’ll stave off hunger and headaches. Drink plenty of water. Even if you think you’re tired–take a drink. It will probably help.
7. Eat Plenty of Plants
Plants offer all kinds of vitamins your body needs. Many people who feel exhausted, have low energy levels or feel run down are actually missing out on proper nutrition. If your diet’s been rather monotonous recently, you could be lacking in vital nutrients you need.
It’s a good time to check in with your doc, especially if you’re feeling unusually rundown and worn out. Have them run bloodwork to check your nutrient levels (and look for other concerns like a thyroid issue). If your doc says it all checks out, boost your meals with some plant-based deliciousness. Look for leafy greens, vibrant root vegetables, delicious berries, citrus fruits and whole grains.
8. Try Vitamin B-12 & D
When you visit your doctor, you may also want to discuss the addition of a B-12 and/or vitamin D supplement. This is especially important for vegetarians and vegans, but many people can benefit from these two vitamins–a lack of which can cause fatigue.
In the winter months, it’s especially important to check out your vitamin D levels. We usually get vitamin D from being out in the sunshine and in the winter months when we see less and less of the sun, it can become an issue.
9. Embrace the Regular
If you’re feeling stressed out, stretched thin and like you can’t keep up with it all, you may simply be trying to take on too much. Embrace a regular routine for a few weeks to see if your energy returns to normal. Sometimes when we’re going too many directions at once, we simply burn out.
Take on less. Cancel plans for a few weeks. Don’t avoid being social (which can make your low energy levels worse or cause it to spiral into depression) but don’t overcommit. Go to the gym or workout regularly. Eat healthy meals three times per day regularly. Get in some time to relax in the evenings.
10. Make Dinner Your Smallest Meal
If you’re often fatigued late in the day, it may be that you’re eating a big dinner and then feeling a slump as your body processes all that food. This can affect your sleeping patterns and make your day feel shorter and less productive. After all, if you eat dinner at 6 and are done for the day, that’s 3-4 hours of activity you’re missing out on.
Instead, eat a light, healthy dinner–a salad, some roasted vegetables and quinoa, a stirfry, or veggie tacos. Have something that makes you feel full but not over-stuffed and tired.
11. Let it Go!
Easier said than done, but if you’re stewing about and stressing about stuff, letting it go can help your low energy levels. When we stress out, it has a lot of negative effects on our bodies from raised cortisol levels, to lowered immune systems. Stress brings on exhaustion.
Write out your feelings. Schedule a time each day (not at bedtime) to worry about the stuff that’s weighing on your mind. Tell yourself to resolve what you can RIGHT NOW and the stuff you can’t immediately resolve will need to go on the back burner.
12. Sleep on It
End your day with 7-8 hours of sleep whenever possible. Do your best to get to bed at a consistent time each night. Turn off your electronics at least an hour before your head hits the pillow. Read before bed to calm your mind.
If you’re exhausted you may also want to look at the quality of your sleep. Are you sleeping through the night or is your sleep interrupted. Sometimes constant tiredness can be a sign of sleep apnea or other disorders that need to be addressed by a doctor.
If you’re feeling tired, don’t worry—there are plenty of ways to beat your low energy levels and give yourself a boost. Focus on getting through the immediate future rather than looking too far ahead and worrying or stressing about insurmountable tasks. Drink water, move more, eat healthy and adopt a routine.You’ll be feeling more energetic in no time!
So, what’s your energy hack when you’re feeling rundown? Do you turn to caffeine or do you have another trick for beating low energy levels?
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