last updated 15/05/2022

How to maintain energy (9 Easy Steps)

Do you constantly feel tired and like you have no energy? We have you covered. These tips below are quite simple, but are tested and proven to help maintain your energy levels throughout the day. However, they do not work overnight, you will need to stick with them to see results.

Feeling tired is a feature of modern life. It’s so common that the answer to the most common greeting phrase has changed for many people.

“How are you today?”

“Tired, and you?”

And when last have you gotten out of bed totally refreshed from the night’s sleep? I bet you can’t remember when. And when last didn’t you simply flop on the couch at the end of the, too tired to bother about preparing a proper meal?

Sounds familiar? Let’s look at some ways to combat creeping exhaustion and stay energetic for longer.

1. Try to get a handle on your stress levels

It’s normal to experience a certain level of stress in life, but stress saps energy. If you can do something about the things that cause stress in your life, you’ll automatically improve your energy levels.

Stress can take a serious toll on your general physical and mental health, leading to serious illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, and exhaustion disorder.

Common causes of stress are:

  • Problematic interpersonal relationships
  • Everyday responsibilities
  • Traumatic experiences, in the past or present ongoing trauma
  • Stressful events like a sudden death, a breakup, losing your job, or moving

Admittedly, many of these can’t be resolved in a simple way. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize the resultant stress and the effects it has on your physical and mental condition, including feeling tired.

If you can’t remove the source of stress, consider taking small steps to at least give you a breather. Find little pockets of time to do things that you really enjoy, even if it’s only to have a cup of tea in privacy.

Take a moment to consider what gives you a feeling of peace. For me, it’s a visit to our local nursery. Being surrounded by greenery always energizes me. What is your secret energy booster?

2. Improve your sleep quality

Another reason to deal with your stress is the effect it has on sleep quality. According to the American Institute of Stress, 48% of workers can’t sleep during the night due to stress.

Other factors that lead to poor sleep quality and resultant feelings of exhaustion include:

  • An irregular sleep schedule
  • Drinking coffee or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Too much screen time

Here are some steps you can take to improve your sleep quality.

  • Don’t watch television late at night, or scroll on your phone just before you put out the light.
  • Make sure your room is dark. The brain needs complete darkness for the circadian cycle to function properly.
  • Don’t drink coffee late in the afternoon or in the evening. The caffeine stays in your bloodstream long after you’ve enjoyed your cup of coffee, which affects the quality of your sleep.
  • Limit your alcohol intake. Although a glass of wine will make you feel more relaxed, the effect on the body is not one of relaxed sleep.
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every day and follow the same routine at bedtime.
  • If you can, get out in the sun every day. It’s important for the proper function of your circadian rhythm.
  • Get some exercise. If you don’t tire your body, it won’t need sleep, and you’ll end up counting sheep after lights out.

3. Get more exercise

The health benefits of regular exercise are well known. In addition to improving sleep quality, physical activity also holds the following benefits:

  • Improved mood
  • Weight control
  • Helps to combat serious health conditions like stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, depression, and anxiety
  • Improved sex life
  • Boost energy levels

Research shows that regular exercise can fight fatigue and improve energy levels. A Radboud University study found that students who participated in a low-intensity running program three times per week for six weeks reported a significant reduction in fatigue and considerable improvements in sleep quality compared with a control group.

A similar study by the same group on work-related fatigue experienced employees found that a six-week exercise program improved sleep quality, while reducing tiredness, leading to improved productivity. 

If you don’t have time in your day that you can devote to exercise, find ways to incorporate it in your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk during your lunch break, and, if possible, choose a parking spot that forces you to walk some distance to your destination.

4. Watch what you eat

You are what you eat – if you constantly eat food smothered in fat and oil, you’ll become sluggish like slow-flowing oil. But you need food for energy and what you eat can either sap your energy or give you energy.

Good energy levels are provided by a healthy diet of whole, nutritious foods high in vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly. 

In this regard, it’s important to understand the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates and how they affect your energy levels.

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, also simply called carbs, are a type of macronutrient, specifically fiber, starches and sugars found in food like fruit and grains. The other macronutrients are fat and protein. The body turns carbs into glucose for energy.

Simple vs. complex carbs

Simple carbs only have one or two sugar molecules and are easy to digest. Because they are easy to digest, they give the body a quick boost of energy.

This is all good and well, but that quick boost of energy doesn’t last. It dissipates just as quickly, leaving you feeling listless.

What’s really happening in your body is a sudden rise in blood sugar levels followed by a sudden drop in blood sugar levels: a see-saw of high and low levels of energy.

Sources of simple carbs best avoided:

  • White bread
  • Processed rice
  • Products made with processed flour
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Packaged foods
  • Candy
  • Sugary drinks
  • Ice-cream
  • Cakes, confectionaries

Complex carbs, on the other hand, have three or more sugar molecules, take longer to digest, and don’t cause a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. In other words, complex hydrates give you energy throughout the day.

Sources of complex hydrates are:

  • Unprocessed whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts

The role of regular meals

It’s not only what you eat, but also how often you eat that affects your energy. If you regularly skip meals under the misapprehension that you will lose weight that way, you might consider rethinking your strategy.

Several research studies have found a correlation between feeling tired and skipping meals.

Also, before going on any diet to lose weight, make sure that the calorie restrictions are not too severe. If your intake of calories is too low, you may run out of energy.

Make sure that any diet you attempt provides you with all the nutrients you need as well as enough calories to function properly.

5. Limit your sugar intake

This recommendation follows onto the previous point, but is so important that it justifies a separate mention.

A sugary little something somewhere during the day is a secret pleasure for most people, especially when you feel tired. However, remember that sugar is a simple carb, which spikes energy levels and then lets you down, leaving you feeling even more tired.

This phenomenon has been studied many times. One study that involved healthy overweight and obese adults found that those who followed a diet high in refined carbs and added sugar experienced 26% more fatigue than when they followed a diet of whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

If you crave something sweet but want to have a sustained level of energy, you can consider the following healthy snacks:

  • Berries
  • Dried fruit
  • Mixed nuts and dried fruit
  • Dates

6. Stop smoking

If you are a smoker, consider stopping. Smoking has a negative effect on energy levels. Many smokers know that the habit makes them feel tired, but they are reluctant to give up the habit.

Maybe you’ll reconsider when you realize that smoking lowers your lung capacity, which means less oxygen in your lungs, which means less oxygen to the brain and the rest of your body.

In the end, you sit with reduced respiratory function and chronic fatigue because your body doesn’t get enough oxygen.

Cigarette smoke damages your health because of the many toxins it contains, including tar which clogs up the lungs, reducing their oxygen-absorbing capacity. Lack of oxygen throughout the body makes a smoker feel tired because organs like the heart can’t function properly without enough oxygen.

Even in young people between the ages of 15 and 18, research has found reduced lung capacity. With prolonged use of cigarettes, the reduced lung capacity can cause fatigue due to lower levels of oxygen in the bloodstream.

7. Kick your nightcap habit

Seriously, most people think that a nightcap is relaxing and sleep-inducing. Yes and no. First, it relaxes you and then it interferes with your REM cycles, causing you to sleep longer but wake up tired. Does that sound familiar?

If you regularly have a few drinks at night and wake up tired the next morning, you may be suffering from what is called a “permanent hangover”, except it’s not a headache; it’s a lack of energy.

The permanent hangover phenomenon is associated with steady drinkers. It is associated with fatigue, which is usually confused as the result of normal life stressors.

The low energy levels caused by this phenomenon are due to the effect that alcohol has on the chemical processes needed for sound sleep.

8. Drink enough water

Drinking enough water is very important. If you don’t drink enough water, you can become dehydrated, which is not only associated with low energy, but also with serious consequences for brain function and general health.

If you have been exercising or out in the heat and feel tired, a lot of that could be attributed to dehydration. It is also not uncommon for people who feel constantly tired to also be constantly dehydrated.

Dehydration and tiredness go hand in hand because dehydration makes the heart work harder, causing you to feel tired.

As a general rule, drink some water whenever you feel thirsty and whenever you are drinking any beverage. This way, you’ll always be hydrated.

Ah, but water is so boring, you complain. To that, I answer: then you have never really been thirsty because nothing quenches thirst like water. Try hiking for 20 kilometers on a hot summer’s day and then tell me that water doesn’t taste like nectar.

Tips to help you drink more water

  • Buy a water bottle that you like and drink from it throughout the day.
  • Flavor your water with lemon or other fresh fruit.
  • Add cucumber slices to your water.
  • Plan to drink some water at specific times, like when you wake up, before you go to bed, before mealtimes, or any time you can think of.
  • Have a glass of water every time you drink a beverage like coffee or tea.
  • Always have a glass of water with every glass of wine.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables high in water.

9. Consider yoga and/or meditation

Admittedly, practicing yoga and doing meditation is not everybody’s cup of tea – nonetheless, their calming effects may help to boost your energy levels.

The benefits of yoga and meditation are confirmed by research, just in case you were questioning the validity of this suggestion to improve your energy levels.

A 2017 study found that participants in the three-month meditation and yoga retreat appeared to have improved their immune systems and to have developed resilience to stress and anxiety. So, if your low energy levels are due to stress, these practices could lower your stress levels, which could restore your energy levels.

Final Thoughts

Feeling stressed and tired is part of life today. Fortunately, so is an abundance of information on every topic under the sun. That is why you can read this article and follow some of the advice it offers so you can

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