by Erica Garza
If you often find yourself turning down happy hour with your colleagues, canceling after-work dinner plans or seriously considering a nap at your desk, it’s safe to say your workday is zapping your energy. Luckily, it’s easy to feel more energized after work without going the route of sugary drinks or caffeine. From staying hydrated to exercising regularly, here are some healthy ways to keep your energy up the whole day through.
1. Stay Hydrated
If you have no energy after work, you may have to rethink your fluid intake. One of the major side effects of dehydration is fatigue, and studies show that even mild dehydration (1 to 3% of body weight) can impair many aspects of brain function. If the idea of drinking water all day bores you, spice yours up with lemon or fruit for taste and extra nutrients. Or, opt for coconut water, which has antioxidants and supports your heart.
2. Eat Your Greens
Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are high in nutrients and rich sources of chlorophyll, which can boost your energy without piling on the calories. Not into salads? Pair your greens with berries and hemp for an energizing, plant-based smoothie. The best energy supplements also contain these greens (just be sure to check the label), as do superfood powders.
3. Take a Cold Shower
In a study in Behavioral and Brain Functions, researchers found that cold water helps reduce the long-term exhaustion that characterizes chronic fatigue syndrome. When we take cold showers, our body releases endorphins, or what some may refer to as a “runner’s high.” If you’re more of a hot shower kind of person, keep in mind you don’t have to brave more than 30 to 90 seconds of the cold for it to work.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercising may be the last thing on your mind if your energy is zapped, but it actually can revive you. Exercising causes your body to release the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine, both of which work to increase energy. Regular exercise also ensures you’ll sleep more soundly, giving you more energy to burn throughout the day. If you find it difficult to kickstart an active routine, go for brisk walks when you can, sign-up for a lunchtime yoga class or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
5. Monitor Your Stress
Stress and anxiety often lead to tiredness and fatigue, so if you find your new project is stressing you out or deadlines are leading you to feel anxious, speak to your manager or colleagues about what’s causing your stress. If adjusting your work to relieve any of these pressures is out of the question, or stress is happening outside of work, take up stress-busting activities such as yoga or mindfulness meditation.
6. Wear Compression Socks
If you sit or stand in place all day, poor fluid circulation may be at fault for your low energy. Compression socks help maintain proper blood flow, as well as the flow of all fluid through the lymphatic system. When the lymphatic system is compromised, the result is whole-body fatigue and weakened immunity. One of the benefits of compression socks is that fluid in the legs circulates more efficiently, giving you more energy throughout your day.
7. Get Your Beauty Rest
Too many sleepless nights can take a toll on your energy levels, even if you typically try to catch up on the weekend. A study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism actually found that sleeping in on the weekends can disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythms, so aim to get 7 to 9 hours nightly—preferably not with your keyboard as the pillow. Follow these sleep tips to avoid hitting snooze and enjoy a restful sleep the whole night through. You might even make it to happy hour, though we bet you’ll feel happier all day long.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health and VICE.