Do you find yourself slogging through life? Find yourself reaching for that third cup of coffee? Think you’re getting a boost from that cup o’ Joe? Think again!
Caffeine actually depletes the body of energy, by switching the body into a flight and fight mode and releasing stored energy. Caffeine works much in the same way as moving money from your savings to your checking account. You might feel like you have more to spend, but you’re not any richer. If anything, you end up spending more. Not to mention that caffeine negatively impacts sleep long after the jitters have worn off.
That’s because caffeine disrupts the sleep chemical adenosine for up to 12 hours post-consumption, by blocking the body’s signal that it’s time to sleep. It also interrupts REM sleep, diminishing the restorative effects of sleep on the brain, leaving you more groggy the next day. (Which most people solve with more caffeine, oy)
So if you’re struggling with energy, I’m not going to sugar coat it: I would suggest weaning off caffeine entirely, or keeping it to minimum amounts – 1 cup of coffee strictly in the morning. But that doesn’t mean you have to go through life tired. Try these natural solutions to boosting energy instead:
Tip #1: Change the way you breathe.
- You will be surprised how dramatically you can increase energy by changing the way you breathe.
- Taking deep breaths lowers heart rate, which means that the body can switch into it’s healing mode, and thus conserve energy. Taking 5-20 minutes a day to focus on deep breathing can drastically improve energy. Next time you feel sleepy, try taking ten deep breaths, deep enough to fill up the belly. This practice accumulates over time. Notice how you feel, I guarantee you will feel different.
Tip #2: – Eat quality food
- You are what you eat. Eating whole, fresh foods is a great way of boosting energy. Anything that has been canned, boxed, or frozen, slowly loses qi life force, which we need to stay healthy and have vitality. If you want to improve your energy, try eating more cooked or fresh veggies and fruits into your diet.
Tip #3: – Clean up a messy mind with meditation.
- Our brain consumes about one-fifth of the calories we consume. When we are thinking a lot, this puts more of a metabolic stress on the body, so it’s important to notice your thoughts, and if they are productive or not.
- Many people expend a lot of energy complaining about circumstances or worrying about the future. Through the use of mindfulness meditation, we learn to firmly anchor our thinking into the present moment, and to what we can control— leaving us feeling more safe, grounded, and relaxed.
- Even in the midst of total upheaval, we always can come home to the breath and choose which thoughts we indulge. Learning to shift your thinking away from thoughts that waste your energy to focusing more on what you can control will free up a lot of space in your mind– and consequentially, your life.
Tip #4: Incorporate movement daily:
- Think of how sleepy you feel after a long drive. The truth is: being sedentary makes you tired. The body was built to move! I recommend at least 30-60 minutes of movement per day.
- However, this can look any number of different ways. People often think that the only way to be physically active is through having a gym membership. This is not so! Maybe it’s taking the dog for a walk, maybe it’s putting on your favorite song and dancing in your living room. Maybe it’s cleaning, or physical intimacy with a trusted partner. Maybe it’s just gentle stretching. The key is that movement should feel good and be enjoyable. Even if it’s not burning calories, movement is essential because it moves lymph, blood and qi in the body. This helps for reduced pain and stiffness, improved immune function and, of course, increased energy.
Tip #5: And of course, get your Acupuncture
- Acupuncture helps re-balance the system, and bring the body back to homeostasis. It improves energy by removing energy blocks, much like cleaning out your gutters improves the flow of water in them.
Energy is a result of healthy habits, which are built over time. There is no simple solution to a feeling of fatigue, but sometimes making small changes can have a big effect. Try to incorporate one of these tips for a whole week and notice how it makes you feel.
I hope this article brings you one step closer to bringing out the vital, radiant self you know is inside of you.
Jessica Glahn, L.Ac.