Get More Energy, Naturally

Need a nap but don't have the time? Here are 8 ways to rev your engines, no caffeine or sugar required.

woman relaxed in field

You're up to midnight catching up on you-time while everyone else sleeps, then the baby wakes up at 5 a.m. - again.  By the time 3 p.m. rolls around, your eyes are rolling back in your head and your keyboard is starting to look like a pillow.  Before you reach for the latte, cookie, or chocolate, take a few moments to do something that will replenish your energy stores, not ultimately deplete them further.

Here are eight natural ways to boost your energy - with no sugar crash or caffeine jitters required. Most can be done in mere minutes, some just seconds.

Hot/cold shower. Turn your morning shower into an exercise in invigoration - at the end of your shower, turn the water to as cold as you can stand for several seconds.  Switch back to hot, then alternate a few more times.  If you've got the stomach for it, end on cold.  "This is an ancient technique that increases circulation, reduces depression, and treats chronic fatigue," says Mark Hyman, M.D., author of UltrapreventionAs an added bonus, it helps the body detoxify--and getting rid of things you no longer need is always energizing.

Invisible trampoline. Get your heart rate up, shake off tension, and add a bit of fun to your day with some old-fashioned jumping.  Keep knees soft and let your arms dangle by your sides, lightly bouncing up and down on the balls of your feet.  Gradually work up momentum until your feet are lifting up off the floor as high as is comfortable for you.  Travel across the room or rotate your jumps to complete a couple of circles in each direction, then slowly decrease the intensity until you are standing still again.

Go upside down. According to yoga, getting your feet higher than your heart gives your circulatory system a break - it allows blood to return from your feet without your heart having to pump it back - and rests the mind.  Best of all, you don't have to bust out a headstand or headstand to get these rejuvenating effects.  Simply lie on the floor with the backs of your legs and feet resting on a wall for two to five minutes.

Office chair swivel. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidneys are believed to be the batteries of the body, pumping out energy on an as-needed basis.  To give your kidneys a revitalizing boost, sit at a desk (or table) in a chair that swivels.  Push the chair back far enough that your legs are out from underneath the desk, but your hands can still hold on the edge.  Keeping your head, shoulders and chest facing forward, begin rotating your hips, knees, and chair seat to the right and left.  Breathe normally and keep going for one minute.  You'll be twisting the back right where the kidneys sit--all that compressing and releasing will bring fresh blood to the kidneys and nourish them so they can do their job more efficiently.  You'll also wring tension out of the muscles along the spine.

Get up offa that thing. You know hearing your favorite song can lift your spirits within seconds.  Combine your most loved music with some energetic dancing and you'll also raise your heart rate, shake off stress, and bring a smile to your face - even on the days when all you want to do is crawl back in bed.

Go to bed 20 minutes earlier. Oh sure, you say, easier said than done.  But as a parent, you know that when your kids start losing focus, it's time to rein in bedtime and make sure they're getting all the sleep they need.  Give yourself the same nurturing and send yourself to bed when you first feel tired - not an hour of mindless television-watching later.  Even 20 minutes earlier will provide a noticeable lift in your energy levels the next day.

Drink a tall glass of water. Next time you're dragging in the middle of the afternoon, reach for the water bottle before you dive in to the leftover pastries in the office kitchen.  Dehydration causes fatigue, and is often misinterpreted as hunger.  So that glass you guzzle provides a double-shot of energy - it perks you up now and helps you avoid indulging in unhealthy snacks that will only lead to a sugar crash later.

Immerse yourself in nature. Being outside in a natural environment reduces stress, improves mood, and promotes clear thinking.  In Japan, visiting the woods for the health benefits the forest air provides is known as shinrin-yoku. A 2005 study found that spending the day in the woods significantly reduced hostility and depression and increased liveliness.  If you can't make it to a forest easily, spend some time sitting under a tree, walking through a park, or even tending to an indoor tree.

Kate Hanley is the mother of two, a yoga teacher, and the founder of msmindbody.com

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Comments (23)
Photo of Jenny M.
Jenny M.
I am always looking for ways to decrease stimulants especially coffee and these natural tips don't cost a thing either. Guess I am going to bed a little bit early tonight. Thanks :)
Posted: October 10, 2013 at 4:50 PM
Photo of Crystal R.
Crystal R.
they all work. thanks!
Posted: April 20, 2013 at 3:45 PM
Shannon O.
This was great to read and hopefully I can remember these tips and put them to good use! Thank you again for the tips care.com.
Posted: April 04, 2013 at 5:39 PM
Photo of Dessirree K.
Dessirree K.
I enjoyed this article.
Posted: December 15, 2012 at 7:13 AM
Judi V.
Many tips I had discovered after my child was born. I had a lot of lower back pain during and after my pregnancy. Getting my body back in shape was my goal, so I started every morning by putting my legs straight up and holding my hands on my hips before getting out of bed. I would stay in that position for about 5 minutes or until I felt my lower back relaxing and my legs stretching. Then I would step down reach my arms as high as I could and lower them to the floor for a minute. I did that several times a day. Then I would make my coffee and was ready for my mommy duties. Once breakfast was over with my daughter it was time for a long walk with her in the stroller. Fresh air and sunshine did the trick to put her to sleep and wake me up! I never napped when she did, but I took the baby monitor to the pool and did some laps for a half hour, that was re-freshing & showered quickly before she awoke.
I went from 175 to 115 in 1 yr following this schedule and eating smaller meals. By the time she was walking I was chasing her around the house and playing in the yard so I was pretty exhausted. When she was 2 yrs old I would lie on my back leaning on my elbows and cross my legs with her leaning across them facing me. I would lift her up and down and it was like a stomach exercise and she had fun for a good 15 minutes. Rocking her in the chair helped my stomach tighten and my legs were getting leaner too!
Posted: December 15, 2012 at 1:50 AM
Laura M.
While I cannot swivel in a chair without feeling nauseous, I can vouch for the benefits that yoga provides. Every person has a level to start from, and competition and self-judgment are not recommended, even if you are only competing with yourself. Namaste.
Posted: December 13, 2012 at 4:42 PM
Photo of Karen O.
Karen O.
This is wonderful information for someone like me who is always on the go and have to be up very early. Thanks for this article Care.com.
Posted: September 18, 2012 at 5:54 AM
Photo of April P.
April P.
I love this article! All of the things mentioned are true! Yoga in the morning wakes me up best.
Posted: August 21, 2012 at 8:41 PM
Photo of Kelly G.
Kelly G.
If you have access to coffee and a quick nap- drink any form of caffeine BEFORE a 15-minute nap, and you'll wake up feeling like you've had a full eight hours!
Cinnamon gum wakes you up, too.
Posted: August 13, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Arlena C.
Helpfully <3 <3 <3
Posted: August 09, 2012 at 8:56 AM
Elizabeth S.
Usually, the first tip I try from the list is the last one mentioned - being out in nature. It really does work!
Posted: July 17, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Photo of Lisa K.
Lisa K.
I like the go to bed 20 minutes earlier. That will do it! Right?
Posted: July 08, 2012 at 11:24 AM
Photo of Lindzi V.
Lindzi V.
All good things... thus I love it!
Posted: July 07, 2012 at 7:13 AM
Photo of Tiffany G.
Tiffany G.
I love this article! Printed and now posted on my fridge! Wonderful advice!
Posted: July 05, 2012 at 2:36 PM
Photo of Maggie B.
Maggie B.
I really like this article :) I end my showers with a burst of really cold water sometimes but now I'll try alternating! Thanks!
Posted: June 10, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Photo of Brittney G.
Brittney G.
so awesome!!
Posted: May 23, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Photo of Rubina L.
Rubina L.
Wonderful
Posted: May 15, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Photo of Alise S.
Alise S.
This is amazing since caffeine if no longer in my food range I'm pregnant and ALWAYSS TIRED!
Posted: March 09, 2012 at 1:21 PM
Pamela F.
I'm off to the shower. Drinking coffee has certainly stopped working.
Posted: January 07, 2012 at 1:47 PM
Latonya B.
enjoyed the article keep up the good work
Posted: August 29, 2011 at 7:38 AM
Photo of Sarah M.
Sarah M.
Loved this! all of these remedies actually prove to be true from my experience. Thanks for posting!
Posted: August 27, 2011 at 12:41 PM
Photo of Emileigh B.
Emileigh B.
Wonderful advise! Especially running after three 4yr olds and my 16month old :)
Posted: August 26, 2011 at 3:23 PM
Photo of Jean B.
Jean B.
What a great Article! I thoroughly enjoyed! Very helpful to me! I do some of the things mentioned, but now I have a few more! Thank you!
Posted: August 23, 2011 at 1:58 AM
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