Boosting Your Energy Levels the Natural Way

When feeling tired and stressed many people reach for a coffee or a sugary snack to keep them going through the day. The downside of this strategy is it can keep you on a rollercoaster of energy highs and lows throughout the dayas the caffeine or sugar buzz wears off, and we reach for another cup or chocolate bar to keep ourselves going. Here's some healthier alternatives to help you access your own natural energy reserves.

1. Meditation. Learning to meditate can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Meditation has been shown to improve mental clarity, reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. Pick the Brain has a useful overview of meditation techniques, or consider attending a short course.

2. Try and replace coffee and energy drinks with tea. If you drink a lot of coffee, this may be a challenge, but after a few days you will start to feel more alive. The benefits of tea on the body are many, as there are naturally occuring chemicals in tea leaves that counteract the harmful effects of caffeine on the body, such as L-theanine, shown to boost the body's immune function. The result is a calming, uplifting feeling far removed from coffee's 'buzz'.

4. Find your sleep level. Here's a great article from Lifehacker about how to find your perfect sleep duration. There are also a range of smartphone applications you can use that can help you track your sleeping patterns, allowing you to know when the best time to go to sleep and wake up are.

5. No laptops before bed. The light from computers and televisions is beamed directly into the eye, triggering hormones that will keep you awake. Read, meditate or write in the last hour or so before you sleep, instead.

6. Get a great massage once a month. This will improve circulation, delivering more nutrients to your tissues and improving your posture and range of motion, resulting in freer movement of energy throughout the body. We practice what we preach!

7. Make sure you get enough exercise. Even if it's just a 20 minute walk every day, try and get moving. Exercise has been linked to lower rates of dementia, longer life and lower levels of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

8. Go somewhere green: lack of green spaces in and around the home have been linked with mental illness. Most people live near a park, and even a short stroll through a pretty garden on the way to work can be an excellent pick-me-up.

9. Be creative: I firmly believe that everyone is creative in some capacity. Expressing the self has been shown to be great for the mind. This doesn't necasserily mean taking up the paintbrush or the guitar: even flexing your creative muscles in the kitchen, in conversation or business is beneficial. If you're feeling creatively challenged, writing a journal (a la The Artist's Way) is a fantastic way to clear out mental clutter and allow for the free flow of ideas.

10. Laugh! It's a proven fact that finding humour and laughter keeps you happy. Go and see a comedy show, or read a funny book, or even join a laughter class. It looks ridiculous, but trust me, it works!

11. Stimulate your mind. Try something new. Nothing will make you feel more alive than fun and novelty. Seek challenges. Getting out of your comfort zone promotes growth; stagnation comes easily when we settle into a familiar groove. Here's a great blog about this on Psychology Today.

12. Look at your diet. Are you eating too much sugar? Processed foods? Heavy carbohydrates? All will make you feel tired. The NHS has an excellent site here on healthy eating.