Take Five for More Energy

Take Five for More Energy

The next time your body is screaming for a pick-me-up, skip the candy or coffee and try one of these fatigue-fighting fixes instead.

Many of us hit a natural energy ebb in the late afternoon. If that describes you, blame your body’s 24-hour sleep-wake cycles, which are governed by exposure to sunlight, boredom on the job, the fact that you stayed up too late last night, or any number of other energy-sapping explanations. The question is how can you generate a burst of oomph that’ll see you through the rest of the afternoon without resorting to unhealthy fixes like a candy bar? If you have five minutes to spare, try one of these energy boosters.

Take a brisk walk. Walking can do much more than just reduce your risk of heart disease. Research at California State University, Long Beach found that the more people walked every day, the more energetic they felt—and the better their mood was.

Sun yourself. “Sunshine is critical for setting your body clock,” says Janet Kennedy, PhD, a clinical psychologist and the founder of NYC Sleep Doctor. “Melatonin, which helps you fall asleep, is suppressed by light,” she says.

Bust a move. Crank up some tunes and start dancing. It will get your blood flowing and change the tempo of your day.

Guzzle some ice water. One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue. So have a big glass of water to see if that helps perk you up. Add a few ice cubes to make it more refreshing, suggests Kennedy.

Grab some grub. A power snack not only holds you over until dinner, it can give you the burst of energy you need to get through the rest of the workday. But hold up: while sugary snacks or salty carbs (like chips) will offer a quick spike in energy, they have no staying power, so they’ll leave you even more lethargic than you were to start, explains Kennedy. Instead, choose a healthy combination of carbs, protein, and fat to give you sustained energy. Some good choices include an apple with a smear of almond butter; some whole grain crackers with hummus; and trail mix made with nuts and berries. At Panera Bread®, half a sandwich—say, a Roasted Turkey & Avocado BLT—gives you protein, healthy fat, and carbs to keep you sustained.

Speaking of grub… Eating a nutrient-dense lunch gives you staying power that’ll help keep your energy levels up all afternoon. A Panera Broth Bowl, like the Lentil Quinoa Bowl with Chicken, can help get the job done with a satisfying combination of lean chicken, hearty quinoa, and fresh veggies, like spinach and kale.

LOL for a few. Get on YouTube and search for a clip that reliably busts your gut, whether that’s vintage Abbott and Costello or a modern stand-up bit. Why? “Laughter increases heart rate, which moves more oxygenated blood throughout the system,” says Steven M. Sultanoff, PhD, a clinical psychologist and an adjunct professor of psychology at Pepperdine University. The more oxygen you have, the more energy you have. Laughter also feels good physically and can counteract the negative thinking that might be zapping your zip.

Pop in peppermint or cinnamon gum. Those scents helped subjects stay more alert and less frustrated during their morning commute, according to a study done at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. Peppermint and cinnamon increase blood flow in the brain and stimulate the area of the brain that’s responsible for waking us up in the morning.

Drink some tea. Why should coffee get all the credit for being a pick-me-up? In a study published in Appetite, volunteers drank either strong black tea or a tea-like placebo. The real-tea drinkers reported feeling more alert and did significantly better on an attention test.