7 Ways to boost your energy

Feeling sluggish? Low energy levels at certain times during the day? Tired when you wake up in the morning?  These are all common complaints voiced by women over 50.  What are some of the things you can do to try and tackle the situation?

The first question to ask yourself is, has this problem suddenly got worse and do I need to see my GP/Physician to check there is nothing physically or mentally causing this problem?  If you’ve been checked out or low energy levels are a just nuisance from time-to-time, ask yourself the following questions to try and analyse the cause.  

1.    Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep is vital for rest and recuperation.  Lack of sleep can cause many physical and mental problems so this is an area you need to work on if it is a problem for you.  Whilst it seems counterintuitive, the answer might be to actually restrict the amount you sleep.  Unfortunately if you are very tired during the day, the temptation is to nap.  Try to avoid this, or set an alarm and limit yourself to 20 minutes.  The other way to improve your sleep is to set a pattern that you stick to.  So go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including the weekends. For more ideas see 10 Healthy habits for a good night’s sleep

2.    Are you drinking enough water?

Even mild dehydration has an impact on the body and the brain.  Feeling sluggish or heavy and what is sometimes referred to as ‘bone tired’, may be a result of your body lacking fluids.  The recommended daily intake of water is eight large glasses.  Do not substitute soda or fizzy drinks for water as the sugar in these can cause a spike in your energy and then a slump.  Try carrying a water bottle with you at all times and record how many bottles you consume during the day.  Do not drink after 9pm as this means you then need to disrupt your sleep to relieve yourself!

3.    Is the food you eat contributing to your low energy levels?

Eating large meals can leave you feeling sluggish and tired.  Try reducing the size of your portions but eat more often and include healthy snacks like nuts and fruit.  Increasing magnesium might help as this mineral is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including breaking down glucose into energy.  Try a small handful of almonds as a snack.   Consume foods that have a low glycemic index, like sweet potatoes and brown rice.  These foods do not cause a sugar surge and then slump and keep you full for longer. Preparing and planning your food in advance helps stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks when hunger strikes.  Foods that boost your energy levels include bananas, apples, eggs, dark chocolate, yogurt and avocados.

4.    Do you have too much stress in your life?

Stress is a fact of life and studies show that small amounts of stress can be good for us, however too much stress over prolonged periods of time will inevitably have a detrimental effect on both your physical and mental health.  Make a list of the things that are causing you an unhealthy level of stress.  Is there anything on the list you can change?  Talking to a counsellor or other professional can help you find ways of coping more effectively even if you can’t take the problems away.  Relaxation techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can help by calming your mind and focussing on something other than your worries.

5.    Are you overworking?

Overwork is not just a problem for people in paid work.  Many of us from time-to-time just take on too much.  Pacing yourself throughout the day can be a helpful concept for managing your energy levels.  Overwork can lead to too much stress, but it can also lead to physical and mental exhaustion.  When this happens the body and mind close down and functioning becomes difficult.  Start to listen to your body and take notice of your mental state.  Do problems arise when you are trying to fit too much into the day?  Try to plan your day with rest periods built in.  Think about your energy as a source of fuel, if you have used it all up by 3pm then you are going to run into difficulty.  Try to be realistic about what you can and can’t do and think about how you can get some help/support.

6.    Are you active and exercising?

The temptation when you are lacking in energy is to do very little, however exercising actually releases hormones that boost your energy levels.  Try promising yourself a reward for 30 minutes of exercise. For example, a brisk walk outside, followed by a lunch you enjoy or a sit down with a magazine.  Try to keep active for part of every day and schedule 30 minutes of exercise (that makes you sweat) five times a week.  Linking up with a friend or ‘exercise buddy’ can help keep you motivated.  See our blog on how much exercise should I do? Physical exercise will also help your sleep patterns.

7.    Are you drinking too much alcohol?

Alcohol can have a detrimental impact on your health.  It disrupts sleep because it is a diuretic, meaning you need to get up to go to the loo.  It also contains high levels of sugar, which means after a night on the wine you wake at 3am when your sugar levels suddenly drop.  In addition, overuse of alcohol often causes anxiety which in turn leave you feeling tired, irritable and low.  Try setting yourself reasonable limits and take regular days off alcohol if you don’t want to give it up completely.  If you do want to stop drinking this blog might help. Thinking of giving up alcohol?

If  a number of these areas are a problem for you try tackling one or two at a time, making small changes.  Don’t add to your stress by trying to change everything in one go.  Small steps are often the route to long-term sustainable improvement.