By Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP
One of the best indicators that you’re having a great day is the feeling that your energy levels are high, steady, and that overall you feel good and can enjoy accomplishing the tasks at hand. Maybe it’s that you bounced out of bed that morning, or sang in the shower. It could be that you didn’t need that extra cup of coffee at 3pm, or that you were able to sustain a solid conversation or play games with the kids after dinner.
How Can You Improve Your Energy Levels?
Now, how often do you feel as though your energy levels are where they should be? Or more importantly, do you remember the last time you felt that way? It’s normal to have periods of time where life gets so busy that our energy has to be directed into specific tasks, or that we might be overtaxed and tired as a result. But if you’ve been feeling lackluster, or low energy for a long period of time and can’t seem to get out of that funk, it could be time to address your energy levels more proactively. Try exploring these tried and true methods of protecting and bolstering your energy levels.
Breathe for Energy
While it is a common reaction to stress, shallow breathing prevents the body from receiving enough oxygen and, in a short period of time, depletes the body of energy. Often, we don’t even notice that our breathing has become quick or shallow until we’re already anxious and exhausted. The trick is to be proactive and mindful about your breathing every day so that you can recognize and respond appropriately when you need to.
One powerful and simple breathing technique I recommend is:
Sit down with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and press the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a soft sighing sound. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
Repeat for a total of four breaths. This is a great way to turn off your fight or flight” stress response too!
Short High Intensity Exercise
Ideally about a half hour of exercise, three times a week can help you increase your energy levels and motivation. And some of the best kinds of activity for revving up your energy come in short bursts of high intensity movement. Whether you choose to take a HIIT class that focuses on interspersing bursts of cardio and strength training, or you decide to get outside on your lunch break for a brisk walk, swinging your arms and moving vigorously, those bursts of exertion will help you rev up your engine and
keep you going for the rest of the day. Extra points if these activities happen outside, where you get the additional energy boosting effects of being in nature and getting healthy doses of sunshine!
Think of it this way: your body is about 60% water so if you’re dehydrated your body won’t be able to function as well as it should – and it will tell you so. Headaches, lethargy, dry mouth, irritability, these are all signs that you need to hydrate. When your body is hydrated, your blood can more easily carry oxygen and nutrients to where they need to be and that results in a lift of energy! A 5% drop in hydration can lead to a 25% drop in energy!
Increase Your B12
B-vitamins are also known as the ‘happy vitamins’ for their ability to convert dietary nutrients into chemicals that the body can use for energy. While the body needs a few different varieties of B vitamins, one that is especially tied to good energy is vitamin B12. Exhaustion, pallor, feeling low and tired can all indicate low levels of vitamin B12 in the body. B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, but is also available in much smaller amounts in plant foods like dark leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, and mushrooms, so be sure that you’re eating a diet rich in this wide variety of fresh foods! For those with severe B12 deficiency, vitamin B12 injections could be helpful because they deliver the vitamin into the muscle tissue or sublingual dosing (absorbed under the tongue) can work well too as both bypass the digestive system which, if compromised, may not absorb the nutrient effectively.
Increase Blood Oxygen
Bet you didn’t realize that all of the previous four suggestions for improving your energy levels have one thing in common! They all positively affect your energy by pumping more oxygen into your bloodstream. Well-oxygenated blood is better able to carry nutrients, can eliminate toxins efficiently, help us think more clearly, and can greatly diminish fatigue and exhaustion. Want another way to help your body get the oxygen it needs? Add fresh greenery to your home and office. Plants feed off of the carbon dioxide we exhale, and replace it with fresh oxygen in the air. So, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, take some time to sniff the plants as well. You just might find you’re breathing easier and feeling more lively too!
Is Your Thyroid Working Optimally? Get the Right Tests to Find out!
If your thyroid test results come back “normal” but you have many symptoms of low thyroid function (fatigue, weight gain, cold hands and feet, hair loss, dry skin, constipation etc.) please consider seeing a functional medicine practitioner who may be able to guide you. At our center we offer extensive blood testing along with a 98% accurate, FDA approved reflex test which is a way to measure the speed of the deep tendon reflex of the arm to help assess intracellular thyroid function. This can be very helpful to diagnose a thyroid condition if your lab results are normal but your symptoms are obvious. Please don’t ignore your thyroid symptoms – seek help to figure out the cause and to feel better!
Maintaining healthy energy levels can be challenging when faced with the stresses of everyday life, but these tips can help you rev up your engine and keep you humming a happy tune all day long. If you still find that your energy levels seem lower than usual, or you are having difficulty sustaining your energy levels over time, you may need a closer look at what is going on and we want to be there to help you get back to your energetic self!
Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP, is a hormone expert and the owner of Wise Woman Wellness LLC, an innovative wellness and hormone care center at 1480 Swan Road, De Pere, Wisconsin (near Green Bay). Mann is the author of the eBook: A Guide to Gluten and Going Gluten Free. She is a board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner and certified NAMS Menopause Practitioner, one of a handful in Wisconsin and less than 1600 worldwide to achieve this distinction. She combines the best of conventional, functional and integrative medicine to help women with female, thyroid and adrenal hormone issues to live healthier, more abundant, joy-filled lives using a blend of compassion, cutting edge science, practical guidance and humor. Please contact her at 920-339-5252 or via the Internet at www.wisewomanwellness.com. Attend her “End Hormone Havoc – Stay Sane, Slim and Sexy” seminar offered monthly to learn about specialized thyroid, adrenal and bioidentical female hormone testing and customized hormone treatments to achieve lifelong optimal hormone balance and increased vitality and longevity.
Randi Mann, WHNP-BC, NCMP, APNP