1 Keep hydrated
If you’re feeling sluggish a glass of water can help. “Water is a hugely underestimated energy booster,” says GP Dr Rob Hicks. “Try drinking a tumbler each hour. Get into the habit of keeping water to hand and you’ll subconsciously drink it. After a couple of weeks you’ll find that you have remarkably more energy.”
Try: A Bobble bottle that filters water as you drink (£8.95, Boots).
2 Supercharge your breakfast
In the UK, 20% of adults regularly skip breakfast even though we know it’s the most important meal of the day. When we wake our energy reserves need to be topped up.
Try: “Turn standard porridge into the breakfast of kings by adding some antioxidant-rich blueberries and a mix of pumpkin, sunflower and chia seed to provide omega 3 and 6 fats,” says nutritionist Patrick Holford.
3 DIY acupressure
Acupressure is based on the belief that qi (the body’s energy) needs to keep flowing through the body to ensure good health. Think of acupressure as acupuncture without the needles. Using touch therapy to stimulate key points on the body is believed to help balance and restore energy flow.
Try: A 20-minute lie down on a Yantra Mat (£33.99, theyantramat.co.uk).
4 Flower power
Homeopathic physician Dr Edward Bach developed flower remedies in the 1920s. Caryn Barnes, 34, is an IT manager from Beckenham, Kent. “I’ve always found mornings a struggle, especially since I’ve had my son,” she says. “I started adding a few drops of Bach Original Flower Remedy Olive once a day to a glass of water. After about a week the effects kicked in – I felt more awake and had energy to go for long walks.”
Try: Bach Original Flower Remedies Olive (£6.65, Holland & Barrett).
5 Spend time outside
Lack of exposure to sunlight in the winter can cause Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In the UK around 7% of people suffer from symptoms of SAD including lethargy and an increased need for sleep.
Try: Talk to your GP if you think you may have SAD. Go outdoors in daylight as much as possible even if it’s not bright.
6 Eat for energy
Maximising your diet can improve energy levels. Patrick says: “Avoid sugar-rich foods as a sugar high will always lead to a sugar dip. Foods to eat for high energy are those that can be most efficiently turned into energy in the body. Eat unrefined nutrient-rich wholefoods such as lentils and beans, with an emphasis on lots of fruit and vegetables.”
Try: A winter warming lentil stew or a three-bean chili.
7 Be iron aware
Being low on iron can make you feel lethargic. “Restrictive diets and periods leave a lot of women with low iron levels,” says Dr Hicks. “Eating a healthy balanced diet will ensure that you’re getting all the nutrients you need to give you energy.
“It’s OK to try taking an iron supplement for a week, but if you’re still feeling tired see your GP to confirm that you’re not iron deficient, diabetic or have an underactive thyroid.”
Try: Rev up your energy with rich sources of iron such as dried apricots and dark green leafy vegetables.
8 Exercise outdoors
Regular exercise helps us to feel revitalised, and being active outside boosts the effect. Researchers in the US found that exercising outdoors increases energy levels more than indoor workouts.
Try: “Choose intensive activities that really energise,” says personal trainer Kathryn Freeland of Absolute Fitness. “Aim to run or walk for 30 minutes to an hour, four times a week depending on your level of fitness.”
9 Sip smart
Energy drinks often rely on high levels of sugar to supply an instant boost. But the effects can be short-lived and leave you craving another fix. For a low-cal alternative the latest functional drinks blend water with vitamins and minerals to help kick-start energy levels.
Try: Shapers WaterVit Refresh & Revive (£1.20, 500ml, Boots).
10 Light therapy
A lack of sunlight during the winter can leave our energy levels flagging. Michelle Maybury, 30, is an IT trainer and support officer and lives in Cardiff. “I used to dread winter as I didn’t have the energy to go out after work and I’d comfort eat to try and give myself a boost,” she says.
“Two years ago I decided to try light therapy. After a week of using a Lumie Zip lamp for an hour each day I began to feel better – more awake and no longer shattered after work.”
11 Drink less booze
If you indulged in too much alcohol over Christmas you’re probably feeling like you’ve lost your va-va-voom. “Alcohol saps energy and because of the way it’s metabolised by the body we wake up feeling less refreshed,” says Dr Hicks.
Try: Aim for one or two drinks a day and have two to three alcohol-free days a week.
Keep a drink diary to ensure you’re staying on track.
12 Soothe stress
Stress is a real energy drainer, so after extended periods of too much pressure we’re left weary and exhausted. Neil Shah, Director of the Stress Management Society, says: “Take the time to relax – watching television doesn’t count as it stimulates the brain.”
Try: Listen to music, read a book or light a candle and focus on your breathing.
13 Eat eggs
New research from the University of Cambridge has discovered that the proteins in egg whites help us stay awake and give the body a quick energy boost. Scientists have found that a mixture similar to egg whites activated brain cells and triggered the release of a stimulant called orexin.
Try: An omelette for lunch.
14 Get moving
Lack of movement can sap your energy levels. Being active boosts these and can release endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel-good chemical, in the brain.
Try: “Get your body moving by making the effort to go outside each morning,” says Kathryn Freeland. “If you don’t have the time to exercise first thing, go for a stroll or walk the dog.”
15 Be a grazer
Eating little and often is an easy way to keep our energy levels supercharged. Patrick says: “Grazing rather than gorging keeps your blood sugar level even and this makes overeating far less likely as you’ll never experience any in-between meal hunger pangs.”
Try: Eating three smaller meals plus a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack a day is a better approach than eating one or two large meals.
16 Extra support
If you feel like your diet needs a little support, try supplements containing B vitamins that can help by maintain energy levels. B vitamins play an important role in cell metabolism and can also help promote healthy skin and hair growth and boost the body’s immune system.
17 Cut down on caffeine
Small amounts of caffeine act as a stimulant. But overindulge and you’ll feel drained and exhausted. “If you’re feeling tired, try cutting down your caffeine consumption and avoid energy drinks,” says Dr Rob Hicks. “They can give a short-term boost but if you rely on them you could feel fatigued.”
Try: Dilute fruit juice with sparkling water.
18 Snack smart
For best results, it is important to choose a snack that includes both protein and carbohydrate together. Patrick says: “Having a few Brazil nuts with an apple will satisfy your hunger for longer as the protein slows down the release of the sugar.”
Try: A slice of rye bread with peanut butter or a bowl of yoghurt topped with berries and sunflower seeds.
19 Herbal help
Ginseng is a traditional herbal remedy that’s been used for centuries to help support energy levels and a healthy metabolism. It’s available as a tea or in tablet form and there are many different types of the herbal extract.
20 Establish a bedtime routine
It’s the quality of your sleep, not just the quantity that is essential to ensuring we wake up energised. Neil Shah says: “As adults we forget the importance of having a routine.”
Try: Relax for 15 to 30 minutes before bed. Enjoy a warm bath or shower, have a herbal tea or ask your other half for a massage.