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To be honest, I had a completely different topic picked out for this week. I started writing it and everything! But, as happens in life sometimes, I got a bit preoccupied and didn’t finish it quite when I should have, and now I’ve come uncomfortably close to my usual self-imposed deadline for this weekly blog. Of course, striving to promptly share useful, quality information with you, my reader, I just couldn’t help but think to myself, “ugh, I’m just dragging today!” It’s no secret that working full time while simultaneously attending graduate school full time will keep a girl on her toes, but being busy is the reality of being an adult, and a reality I think we all share. Finding time to balance family, career, adventure, personal growth, health, wellness, and oh yes, your sanity, can definitely lead to those instances where you feel a bit drained.

In those instances, caffeine is an effective and trusted go-to for many people. In fact, a study posted by the FDA showed that average caffeine intake for adults in the US is roughly 300mg/day. That is the equivalent of just over three 8 ounce cups of coffee or just under three 12 ounce cans of Red Bull.  Debates about safety and proper dosing of caffeine aside, sometimes using caffeine as the sole pick-me-up is a counterproductive strategy. For instance, consuming caffeine late in the afternoon or evening may disturb your ability to sleep; moreover, consuming caffeine with mass quantities of sugar (i.e. in energy drinks, soda, or heavily sweetened coffee) can add empty calories to your diet, throw your insulin levels out of whack, and lead to a sugar (aka energy) crash later.

So, when you’re feeling a bit drained, try one of my six strategies for boosting energy instead:

  • Take a brisk walk around the block. The movement and fresh air work to energize you when you are feeling tired.
  • Stretch. This is another way to to wake up your body. Especially for those of us who spend the majority of the day seated, stretching really helps to ease muscle tension (and remind our bodies how good it feels to not spend all day slumped in front of a computer)!
  • Drink water with fruit. Personally, I find citrus to be invigorating. Adding a slice of lemon or lime to cold water is a great pick-me-up!
  • Have a healthy snack. When energy is low, there is a possibility it may be due to low blood sugar. Instead of consuming a sugary beverage or “quick fix” candy or energy bar, try having a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts, or veggies with hummus. The calories and nutrients will help to perk you up without a sugar crash later.
  • Meditate. Take 5 minutes to close your eyes and focus on your breath, or even a motivating personal mantra. Let all other thoughts slip away and bring yourself into the present.
  • Take a power nap. When all else fails, sometimes we just need to rest for a minute! Set an alarm and grab some shut eye: 20 minutes has been shown beneficial in boosting alertness.

Regular exercise, adequate sleep, and good nutrition all play vital roles in maintaining high energy levels. Pursuing your passions and cultivating a zest for life, too, play a big role in staying energized, though that’s a post for another day!

Until next week, stay healthy (and invigorated) my friends!