Eight Tips for Feeling More Energetic.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Eight tips for feeling more energetic.

Feeling energetic is a key to feeling happy. Studies show that when you feel energetic, you feel much better about yourself. On the other hand, when you feel exhausted, tasks that would ordinarily make you happy—like putting up holiday decorations—make you feel overwhelmed and blue.

When my energy feels at a low ebb, I try one of these techniques (well, first I drink something with caffeine in it, but if I feel like I need to take further steps, I try these strategies):

1. Exercise—even a quick ten-minute walk will increase your energy and boost your mood. This really works! Try it!

2. Listen to lively music.

3. Get enough sleep. If the alarm blasts you out of a sound sleep every morning, you’re not getting enough—and it matters. (Here are some tips for getting good sleep.)

4. For some people, taking a 10-30 minute nap is a big help. I can’t nap, myself, but my father has been known to take three naps in one day.

5. Act energetic. Research shows that when people move faster, their metabolism speeds up. Also, because the way we act influences the way we feel (to an almost uncanny degree), by acting energetic you’ll make you feel more energetic.

6. Talk to friends. I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling low, and then run into a friend on the street, I walk away feeling much more energetic. Reach out if you need a boost. This is true for introverts and extroverts alike.

7. Get something done. Crossing a nagging chore off your to-do list provides a big rush of energy. For a huge surge, clean out a closet. You’ll be amazed at how great you feel afterward.

8. Do NOT use food. It’s tempting to reach for a carton of ice cream when you’re feeling listless, but in the end, all those extra calories will just drag you down. In general, be wary of the urge to treat yourself when you’re feeling low.

Energy (or lack of energy) is contagious. If you feel energetic, you’ll help the people around you feel energetic, too. And that makes them feel happier. In fact, in his excellent book, The No A***ole Rule, Bob Sutton reports that being an energizer was one of the strongest predictors of a positive performance evaluation at work.

* How great! Groups for people who are doing happiness projects together have launched all over the world, and the group in Singapore, led by Marion, got written up in the magazine Her World. Click here if you want a starter-kit yourself.

* It’s Word-of-Mouth Wednesday! This is the day when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
— Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
— Link to a post on Twitter
Pre-order the book for a friend
— Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.
(Note that various links in the comment box, just below, make some of these steps easier.)

Other posts you might be interested in . . .

  • Great tips! And JUST what I needed today since I’m dragging!

  • This is a great list Gretchen. I personally have a play list of energetic songs in my Itune. Whenever I hit the gym, or exercise, I would listen to the list of songs. It helps with the extra push.

  • allwomenstalker

    Wonderful tips. They work, too! Every tip here never fails to perk me up when I need to.


  • All good points Gretchen. I would add to your point on food to be careful what you eat. High refined carbohydrate foods will cause a subsequent blood sugar low in response to the extra insulin dumped into your system. This often why we feel sluggish and sleepy after lunch. Eat light at lunch focusing on good non-refined carbohydrates and protein. It can make a huge difference.

    Thanks, Doug

  • Love this list. I am doing and experiment this week: I am going to bed about an hour earlier than I normally so (however painful it is at the time to turn off the TV/close the book) and I plan on blogging about it this weekend. So far it’s amazing how much my mood/happiness has been boosted. I’ve been a fireball all week! Thanks for your recent write-up on sleep.

  • Gretchen, could you reveal your source for that entrancing picture? Please please please?

    • gretchenrubin

      Richard Avedon!

  • Hi, Gretchen –

    For me, taking care of myself (especially getting enough sleep) is the biggy for me. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I go to bed an hour earlier — of course, with no kids, that’s easy for me to do and I’m grateful for that!

    Thanks for a great post!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

  • thehealthylibrarian

    Gretchen you are right on target with your list–but you did forget a major energizer:

    Eating a super healthy diet, high in fruits & vegetables, and ditching the sugar.

    I know from experience that this makes a tremendous difference in my energy levels. Honestly, I’m on the go for most of the day–and if I don’t eat right–my energy lags.

    I know I sound like a wonk with this (& I’m sure I’ve posted this one before & I apologize)–but drinking green smoothies daily–made with almost a full day’s servings of fruits & vegetables is a real energizer.

    “What’s Working – What’s Not: My Green Smoothie Adventure Update from the Juicy China Study”


    My top energizers:

    1. Healthy diet–no sugar
    2. Exercise
    3. A good night’s sleep
    4. Getting a nagging project done–and early in the day!

    • Raffaella

      So true! Fruit, nuts, wholemeal bread are great to boost energy *and* mood too 🙂

  • Great list. I’ve experienced #5 many times. It’s a technique from method acting: act “as if” you are the character, drawing on emotions and memories. In this case the character is an energetic person. We all know what that is and can use our sense memories to retrieve it. I’m always amazed at how well this works!

  • Gretchen, I’ve noticed that the problem is not so much that I don’t know what to do to make myself happier, as it is that I am resistant to actually do the things that I know will make me happier. So I think #1 on my list would be, “Resolve to do things to make yourself happier when you’re in a bad mood.” And I’m not sure there are any tips for that.

    • gretchenrubin

      That is EXACTLY what my happiness project is about! For most people, there
      are things you can make yourself happier — but you have to do them.

  • A great list and I think each tip is equal in effectiveness. As Kevin mentioned, it’s sometimes hard getting yourself to do them but I think that’s down to making them a habit so they become easier and more natural to you.

  • Great list! It is something I use myself on a daily basis. Sometimes I stumble.

    I have actually developed a framework for my own life to keep myself happy day and day out. It is based of physical fitness, proper rest, proper diet and meditation.

    I know you do not mention mediation, but it is one of the best ways to relax and energize yourself. It gives you more focus and clarity. It is one of the most favorite ways to start a day.

    However, sometimes we do get down and do not follow one of the rules mentioned above. I know I have done it. Sometimes, I do not feel like working out or being energetic or doing anything.

    I found that committing yourself to other people works the best. For example,

    1)try having a workout buddy who you commit to meeting for a workout. ; 2)Try setting up meetings with your friends through out the week.

    Also, sleep is important, but I have fallen into the trap of oversleeping. It is just as bad as not sleeping enough. A great way to deal with it: commit yourself to somebody else in the early hours of the day so you have a reason to wake up!

    Thank for another great article!


  • elizmck

    Surround yourself with energizing people and inversely stay away from the energy zappers.

    Great tips.

    I also read your tips for sleeplessness. I’ve tried them all and still suffer from regular bouts of insomnia. If I may add one – do not watch television in bed. It really does keep you awake afterward.

  • leanrainmakingmachine

    I agree with/observe what some others have said: in addition to this list, my energy can be signigicantly boosted with the right nutrition: protein and slowly absorbed carbs. Also, very often my energy levels are low only because it’s been too long since I ate. My best energy strategies therefore include having healthy nutritious snacks regularly: e.g., cottage cheese and blueberries… makes a HUGE difference in me when my blood sugar is low…

  • Gretchen,
    Can I just tell you how important *act the way you want to feel* has become to me over the past months? Those little words became a life changer and allowed me to feel more in control in uncomfortable situations.
    Thanks for giving me such an effective tool.
    Its the new black.
    Take Care,

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so glad that is useful to you! It is hard to do, but I agree, it really

  • Great tips – I especially like #6 – a reminder for me, as I’m not good at reaching out!

    In general I love your viewpoint that energy helps you be happy. I can see some ways that it might not be true – the crazy energy of stress or a nourishing Zen meditation – but I get what you’re saying, and I like it 🙂

    Diet is a great way of getting more energy. Have you looked into the raw food diet?

    I haven’t succeeded with that diet but I do include a lot of raw foods, and especially sprouts, which make me feel lighter and less loaded down by digestion. It’s great for picking up the energy levels 🙂


  • TracyW

    I’ll add a counter, sometimes, to the “Do not use food”, on the basis that sometimes the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth. While backpacking around the USA I noticed that I very seldom felt hungry but often felt tired, sick of travelling, melancholy, etc. I learnt when I started feeling depressed I needed to eat something and that would bring my mood back up for another 5 to 6 hours. It’s happened a few other times to me when travelling in other places as well.

    • gretchenrubin

      That’s a great point. I agree — not letting yourself get too hungry is very
      important. This is a big issue in my household!

  • reading that (and listening to the andrews sisters) : off you go!

  • Fantastic tips! For me, I feel more energetic when I play with young ones, whether babies or kids. There’s something about them that makes me smile and gives me a burst of energy.

  • logoscoaching

    some nice tips Gretchen. I always find that acting energetic is a great way to get out of any lull. Just pretend that all is wonderful for a few minutes by jumping around to a song or doing something silly – like a massive grin into the mirror and telling yourself you are wonderful and all is as it should be. It’s often enough to get over the peak of feeling crappy.

  • stepharmstrong

    Here’s another tip, I’ve been very low in energy for months now. I thought it was my medication but no amount of sleep seemed to help. Seems I have low iron. So get that blood test!

  • sandyc9

    Some of these are not for me.

    Re: 5. After yoga, things really slow down and it feels great, and I am much more energetic for the next day because I found peace for myself. And I find I rush way too much in my daily life.

    Re: 8. I am not good about eating regularly, and when I do remember to eat, I feel a huge surge of energy. I can swim my mile and feel good rather than feel like I am lagging. Food is actually a huge source of energy for me.

    But then again, these are particular to me, but I don’t think I am alone.

  • patcortez

    Read biogrophies famous people when you were a teenager will bring back funny memories & happy times.Trueman Roosevelt Adali Stevendon etc.

  • Jan

    Great tips… will keep them all in mind.