A 2015 Gallup poll revealed that nearly two-thirds of Americans drink roughly three cups of coffee per day. Coffee is likely to continue to be our energy potion of choice, but a shift beyond a short-term energy boost is underway. Now, women are seeking holistic solutions to staying energized – and the answer isn’t necessarily at the bottom of a cup.
In a recent study by Women’s Marketing Inc, the term wellness today is defined not only by physical health, but mental, emotional and social health. The report also explains that there is a growing interest in weaving wellness into every aspect of our lives, a term the report calls health creep.
Health creep might sound like a clever marketing term – but we are seeing a broader awareness emerge of how every aspect of our lives influences our energy and health.
And with that awareness, we get practical solutions (yay!). Here, we’re sharing ways to optimize alertness and productivity with your wellbeing in mind. These tips consider a variety of life-choices like your eating habits, the environment you immerse yourself in, how you are prioritizing your time, sleep hygiene and more.
Even if you don’t plan to give up coffee, try experimenting with one of these five suggestions:
ARRANGE YOUR OFFICE SPACE
Whether you commute into the city for a paycheck or earn a living working remotely from a home office, a little thoughtful furniture placement and the deliberate use of color wherever your workstation is can go a long way. Mina Fies is a Virginia-based designer, zen remodeler, and creator of the Renovation Roadmap who is certified in Interior Alignment®. Interior Alignment uses the principles of feng shui to bring more energy and balance to your space. Mina shared a few tips any of use can use –
- For balance, have a solid wall behind you and make sure your desk faces the door to open you up to the energy and opportunities that flow through it.
- Plants represents growth and abundance in your life, so place one in your “wealth corner,” or the top left corner as you view from the door.
- Incorporate reds and oranges for energy, blues to stimulate creativity or yellows for organization – it all depends on what you feel you need in your day
“It’s important to dedicate a space in your home to recharge,” Fies says. Incorporating earthy elements like wood (in the form of picture frames or books for example) and earthy colors are grounding, as are lighting strategies like dimmers which can help signal when it’s time to wind down for the day.
WATCH YOUR SUGAR INTAKE
Danielle Omar, registered dietitian and Cal-EZ nutritionist, has long touted the energizing benefits of incorporating clean eating into your lifestyle.
“There is a misconception that eating clean requires a ton of effort and is expensive, but it’s just not true,” Omar explains. A high sugar diet may be making it difficult to have sustained, consistent energy throughout the day, which leads to increased sugar cravings, causing an endless cycle of ups and downs.”.
A few tips to get started includes taking a look at how much sugar you’re really consuming. If you wake up feeling exhausted and lethargic, excess sugar intake could be the culprit.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), women should keep their added sugar intake to six teaspoons (or 30 grams) a day, while men should limit it to nine teaspoons (or 45 grams). Added sugars, per the AHA, include any sugars and syrups added to foods during preparation or processing. It also includes any sweeteners added to foods at the table.
To keep track of these numbers, Omar recommends taking the time to read nutrition labels and to fill up on a healthy combination of fiber, protein and fat to squash sugar cravings.
“Having a fiber, fat and protein combination at every meal is the easiest way to curb cravings and keep your metabolism humming. You’ll immediately notice a difference in your mood and energy. You’ll sleep better, feel better, and those mid-afternoon energy slumps will disappear,” Omar says.
According to The Mayo Clinic, fatigue and dizziness could be an indicator of dehydration. With meetings and conference calls to attend to and deadlines to meet, remembering to stay hydrated can easily slip off our priority list.
In addition to our busy schedules, traveling without easy access to clean drinking water and excessive sweating from working out doesn’t help either (you lose water, and potentially calcium, through sweat).
There is also the fact that some people just don’t like drinking water. To make water intake more interesting, personal trainer and Cal-EZ blogger Erin Bahadur of Erin’s Inside Job recommends keeping a big container at your desk marked with the volume of water you should be drinking every hour as a reminder.
The Institute of Medicine recommends women drink nine cups of water a day, while men should aim for 13 cups. Nine cups is on par with drinking a bottle of wine, and then some!
GET SOME SUN
It may sound counterintuitive because we know we should be careful to avoid skin damage, but some sun exposure can be healthy for us. Aside from supplementation, the sun is the best way to ensure we’re getting enough vitamin D as our bodies need natural sunlight to produce it. Otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D boosts immune function, regulates mood and helps the body absorb calcium, a critical nutrient for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.
Exposure to sunlight, particularly in the mornings, helps normalize our circadian rhythm, or our internal clock which tells us when to wake up and go to bed. One study found that Americans are the most sleep deprived people in the world and cites worry and stress as the main cause for our sleeplessness.
SAY NO TO “BUSY” PRIDE
Being “busy” seems to be the status quo (maybe even a status symbol) in American culture today. Apparently, Americans are exhausted, some say because we’ve just got so many things to do and not enough time. However, perhaps the real reason we’re exhausted is because we suck at managing our time. A National Post article sums up what a lot of us are really doing,
“We forgo sleep to work, to strive, to succeed and then wear it like a badge of honour. We drink caffeine all day and stare into our bright screens all night. We make to do lists and then watch the plodding minutes on the clock while stressing about how tired we will be in the morning. Finally, when we can’t get rest, we turn to drugs to knock us out.”
If this sounds familiar, and are wondering what to do, maybe a good place to start is to assess how much time is actually dedicated to the things that need to be done. Busy and productive are similar words, but they mean different things.
Then, consult our screens once more (it’s inevitable). A quick Google search for “productivity hacks” bombards you with a number of suggestions, including turning your smartphone on airplane mode, mindfulness techniques and the trendy note-taking bullet journal method.
So… did you read this post while sipping your morning coffee? Procrastinating on your to-do list? That’s okay – we’re all a work in progress, and sometimes, part of maintaining your energy is as simple as being present in the current moment.
What are strategies you use to stay energized during the day?