How to Boost Your Energy

In a perfect world, you would sleep eight hours a night, carry a reasonable load of responsibilities, enjoy the things

In a perfect world, you would sleep eight hours a night, carry a reasonable load of responsibilities, enjoy the things you have to do, and have plenty of time for the things you love to do. The world would be calm, giving you ample space and energy to be, well, energetic. The world, however, is far from perfect.

Office work. Paper work. Computer work. Yard work. Children. Parents. Friends. Enemies. Cooking. Cleaning. Scheduling. Coping. These are just some of the tasks of everyday life for a woman today. To say it’s frazzling is an understatement. But don’t think for a moment that you have to spend life stuck in a toxic cycle of high stress and low energy. By learning how to become centered and positive, you can easily reclaim the everyday vitality and energy you so want and deserve.

1. Physical Ways to Boost Your Energy

Sit less, move more.

Studies have identified sitting as a health crisis that’s not only causing people to pack on pounds, but also increasing their negativity. Think about it: When your body’s not moving, your heart rate naturally slows, which, in turn, slows how much oxygen the brain is receiving. Through movement, you increase the flow of feel-good endorphins in the body and oxygen to the brain, which is exhilarating. But you don’t have to slog through a long workout in the gym to get the benefits. Just build more activity into your day. For instance, take squats and push-ups; do simple upper body stretches while you’re stopped at a traffic light; or just fidget more at your desk.

Make “vital” choices.

Steps or escalator? Take the steps, of course. Drive to the store at the other end of the strip mall, or just walk on over? You know what to do. Watch a rerun on TV, or go outside and weed the flowerbed? Get your mud shoes on. The secret of high-vitality living isn’t to be found in one monumental change in who you are; it’s to be found in the small decisions of everyday life. Make the right little choices each day, and it soon adds up to the big change you desire.

Move with attention

Whenever you move, even if you’re just walking to the coffee pot or changing your baby’s diapers, pay attention to how you feel. For instance, how does your arm feel as you lift the coffee pot? Do you feel tight anywhere? “Research shows that when we bring attention to movement, the brain grows new connections and creates new pathways and possibilities for us, which makes us feel vital,” says Anat Baniel, director of the Anat Baniel Method Center in San Rafael, California, and author of Move Into Life.

Fuel up regularly.

Vitality is closely linked to your diet. And not just what you eat, but when you eat as well. To make sure you have the necessary fuel in your bloodstream to feel and act with energy, you need to eat more often than you might realize. Experts now say eating small amounts every three hours is the best eating pattern, much superior to the old program of three big meals a day. Good choices include nuts, apples, plain yogurt, and peanut butter. Bad choices include foods containing sugar or corn syrup, such as soda, candy, cakes, or other products made from white flour.

Plus: 4 Safe Energy-Boosting Foods and Drinks

2. Mental Ways to Boost Your Energy

Stop multitasking.

Women are more predisposed to multitasking than men, but that doesn’t negate a more important fact: The human brain—male or female—can only focus well on one thing at a time. Studies show over and over that people who do several things at once are less efficient—even though they think otherwise. And multitasking frays your nerves and tires you out mentally. So stop doing it so much. How? By consciously deciding to do one thing at a time to its completion before moving on to the next task.

Alter your routines.

Variety isn’t only the spice of life, but it triggers growth and learning in the brain, which aids vitality. So every day, add variation to your routines—for example, take a different route to work, hold your coffee cup in your opposite hand, or read the paper from back to front.

Strengthen your enthusiasm muscle.

Think of enthusiasm as a skill, not a mood, almost like a muscle that you develop and activate. To make it work, find three things in the next hour to be enthusiastic about. Start small—maybe it’s the new recipe your cooking for dinner tonight, or the call you’re making to your friend later—and gradually move that enthusiasm to bigger things in life.

Take regular techno-breaks.

Although technology may be making life easier, it could also be eroding your mental health, causing you more stress, depression, and fatigue. It doesn’t take much. One recent survey found that 50 emails was the limit people could receive each day before becoming overwhelmed. Take frequent breaks from technology. For instance, check email only a few times a day, step away from your computer every hour, or go a few hours without texting.

Learn to say no–without elaborating.

This sounds simple, but it’s one of the toughest strategies for women to embrace. Just say “No,” and stop there. If you feel you need to explain, say something like, “I would love to do this, but I don’t have enough time.

3. Emotional Ways to Boost Your Energy

Press pause.

When you’re feeling absolutely fried, stop what you’re doing and ask yourself what you’re feeling grateful for right now. Force yourself to answer the question: What matters most to you at this moment? Doing something this simple can change your emotional state from feeling frustrated and anxious to feeling hopeful, grateful and optimistic.

Do a daily three-minute meditation.

Like pressing pause, meditation can put you in the moment and help you shift away from negative emotions. Find a quiet, comfortable place away from distractions. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. If thoughts come, let them float away; then bring your focus back to breathing. As you inhale, feel yourself becoming calmer; as you exhale, let go of stress and frustration.

Have a morning mantra.

If you wake up wondering how you’re going to get through the day, that anxiety will dog you all day, affecting your energy. Instead, say something positive to yourself each and every morning, like “I’m so grateful for my life” or “I am proud of all I will do today.” By doing this, you’re setting yourself up to have positive energy.

Plus: 3 People Who Steal Your Energy

4. Spiritual Ways to Boost Your Energy

Remind yourself of your life purpose.

When you know where you’re going, and you’re excited at the prospect of getting there, the journey becomes so much more vital and fun. This holds true for your upcoming weekend plans, and it also holds true for your loftiest personal goals and ambitions. So remind yourself of your chosen life mission. What’s your ultimate goal? How do you want to be remembered? Staying focused on big-picture goals will help you feel more vital each day. To help remind yourself, write down your ambitions and reread them frequently.

Create a “bliss” list.

To reach bliss, write down at least 10 things that give you joy, whether that’s playing with your dog, taking a hike in the woods, or savoring a piece of dark chocolate. At least three of these items should be things you can do on your own. Everyday, do at least one thing on your list.

Embrace optimism.

We already suggested you work on your day-to-day enthusiasm as a way to give yourself a short-term mental boost. When you succeed at that, you are on your way to achieving something even greater: a realistic, long-term sense of optimism. Yes, the world is crazy. Yes, life can be challenging. Yes, free time is a rarity. And yes, making change is hard. But we all know of people—a few famous, but most of them friends, family, coworkers, or acquaintances no different in ability or resources than you—who are making good on their life ambitions and dreams. Feel their vitality and positive outlook. Then make it yours.

Plus: 5 Quick Ways to Boost Your Energy

Source: Best You

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest