8 Tips for Boosting Your Energy RIGHT NOW.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: 8 tips for boosting your energy RIGHT NOW.

It’s hard to feel happy when you’re dragging around. Simple tasks seem overwhelming, people seem annoying, and nothing seems fun.

Lots of good results flow from having plenty of energy. Life just seems more manageable. Also, studies show, you’re more likely to feel good about yourself, and not only that, being considered an “energizer” makes you more likely to win a positive work evaluation.

For long-term energy, it’s most important to A) get enough sleep and B) get some exercise. But that doesn’t help you if you need some energy RIGHT NOW. If you’re desperate for an immediate boost, try these tips:

1. Go outside into the sunlight; light deprivation is one reason that people feel tired. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning. And while you’re outside…

2. Go for a brisk walk. One study found that even a ten-minute walk was enough to supply a feeling of energy and decreased tension.

3. Act with energy. We think we ACT because of the way we FEEL, but often we FEEL because of the way we ACT. Trick yourself into feeling energetic by moving more quickly, pacing while you talk on the phone, and putting more energy into your voice.

4. Listen to your favorite upbeat song. Hearing stimulating music gives an instant lift and is one of the quickest, most reliable ways to affect your mood and energy level. I’m always surprised by the effectiveness of this strategy.

5. Talk to an energetic friend. Not only do we gain energy from interacting with other people, we also – in what’s called emotional contagion — “catch” their emotions. Instead of infecting others with your draggy mood, try to lift yourself by catching the energy of a boisterous friend.

6. Tackle an item on your to-do list. Unfinished tasks weigh us down. So if you feel bad about never having had a skin-cancer check, or not having completed an over-due report, or not having faced this month’s bills, force yourself to tackle one thing that’s nagging you. It’s tough, but you will feel a HUGE rush of energy when you cross it off your list.

7. Clean up. I’m not sure why tidying makes such a huge difference, but when I feel like I can’t face the day, I just tidy up my desk, and I perk right up.

8. Eat — if you’re hungry. If you’re actually hungry, eating makes a huge difference to your energy. Both my children become very droopy and crabby when hungry, and I’ve learned the hard way to pay close attention to this; I suffer from it myself. During the workday, my husband will go far too long without eating, so I try to remind him to eat enough, as well. However, it can be tempting to eat a snack to try to get an energy boost even when you’re not hungry. If food isn’t the problem, other strategies to boost your energy may be healthier.

“Exuberance is beauty,” William Blake wrote, and it’s surprising how much sheer energy level can affect the quality of the happiness of a day.

What have I overlooked? Do you have any great short-term energy-boosting strategies?

* It’s Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
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  • Switch tasks. I get tired when I’ve been doing the same thing for too long. Switching to another task or project can give me an energy boost just because it’s different. Also, I think a very small amount of caffeine can help from time to time, as long as it doesn’t become habitual.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great addition! This is very effective.

  • LivewithFlair

    Love it! So true today! I also appreciate the William Black quote. I’d add that prayer gives me more energy right away.

  • KJ

    I love this post!

  • These are tips we should know, but forget all too often. Thanks for sharing them to remind us how we can boost our energy with a little thought and planning!

  • sprite

    I forget to drink throughout the day, which also makes me crabby. A glass of water or a cup of tea can definitely help to set things right.

  • Gina

    When I need an energy boost, I check out your blog. It works like a charm.

    • gretchenrubin

      Awwww, thanks! That is so nice to hear.

  • Thanks so much. Inspired by your book, I am working on my energy this month. Perfect timing!

  • Lovebeingretired

    I can vouch for the benefits of getting up and taking a walk around the block. I did this a few times each day to clear the cobwebs at work and more often than not would find myself walking speedily back to the office with some new thought that I needed to write down or implement before I forgot! And I am definitely a to-do-list-guy – nothing better than scratching of each item until you have more scratched off than not, and need to move the much shorter list to a new piece of paper.

  • That’s for sure with the catchy music. I routinely play my “most played itunes songs” and they turn my moods around quick.

  • Hope Evey

    Actually, exercise can be a short-term energy booster. When I get the droops at work, I stand up and do some active stretches. That perks me right up 🙂

  • Good list. Sometimes people forget with all the technology that keeps us inside

  • I’ve actually been doing some of these things in the last week myself and I feel so great. I think the important thing about acting the way we feel is to also use a tonality that makes us act as well. I find that to get myself energetic for a situation I do the following.

    I physically act the way I feel.
    I use a tone that implies I feel that way.
    I fuel my body with great substance such as muligrains and a green drink.
    And I’m careful to choose the words I think in my head.

    And if all else really fails, I go to You Tube and look for a funny video that’s going to make me laugh for five minutes.

  • I find drinking something COLD can also perk me up if I’m lagging.

    I like the “tackle an item on your to-do list”. Somewhere along the way I came across a tip to put three easy-to-accomplish items as the first things to do when starting to work, to get into the groove of getting things ticked off the list – it works for me (when I remember to do it).

  • I’m feeling very happy today! While my daughter was at kindy I did a hardcore session of Pilates, had a coffee with a friend, came home and vacuumed out the car. I think that’s three things off your list 😉

    My big tip is working out what order to do things to get optimum good feelings. I can only really enjoy my cuppa and a mag in front of the telly after the house is pretty clean, I’ve had an outing, and done some exercise. Then the relax is SO much better! Sometimes I’ve been lazy and blobbed out first and it just doesn’t feel as good.

  • I work with young children so sometimes I can feel very drained. I find it helps to take two minutes to stretch and do some deep breathing. Touch your toes and then reach above your head a couple of times and it can do wonders.

  • Marianne

    When I feeled drained at the office, it helps to get up and walk around. A quick walk outside is the best. Also, sometimes I forget to keep hydrated, so I keep a bottle of water at my desk and drink even if I don’t feel thirsty. A cup of hot tea works too. Other things I do: listen to my iPod while doing more dreery tasks, eat a high-energy, low-cal snack like almonds or a Kasha bar, smile even when I don’t feel happy, visit with a co-worker I like (if there’s one I can share a laugh with, all the better ), tidy my desk surface off, water my orchid, and finish something on my to-do list.

  • I came here because my friend, who is also a Gretchen, put up a link. Great suggestions…that’s how to help folks, incremental,do-able and positive. Thanks.

  • Thanks for the suggestions. For me getting that immediate boost of energy is all a mental development. I agree that getting in the right frame of mind can produce some immediate energy. I need to alter my attitude at times, and engaging in enjoyable activity can help to do this. When my attitude is positive, I have ample energy. Thanks!

  • I love number 5. My sister is my number one energy booster and I do the same for her. It’s so nice to know that we have each other to turn to. I wrote an article about this, stating that I’d really like to find a romantic partner like her that makes me feel so upbeat. http://www.postcardsfromapeacefuldivorce.com/300/can-i-find-a-g…like-my-sister/

    I would add that in general maintaining an attitude of appreciation towards your life can be a great energy boost. When I find myself dragging, I often write a gratitude list. Just seeing how much I have to love in my life sparks me out of my lethargy and gives me an appreciation “rush.”

    Thanks for the tips. They are always such a great reminder.

  • These are great ideas! When I feel tired & drained I tent to sink into it instead of trying to get out of it. I will definitely think of these!

  • jenny_o

    I second the comment about drinking water – it truly surprises me how much energy it gives me, when I haven’t even felt thirsty.

  • Liz


  • Sarah Larose

    Gretchen, thank you so much for leaving a comment on my blog. I never expected you to find my little blog.

    So far I’m really enjoying your book. It just makes complete sense! You have a smart way of writing that draws the reader in to want more. Thanks for thinking of this idea and keep it going through the blog.

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! Thanks!

  • Islandm

    VERY insightful energy boost ideas!

    Another idea could be to take a Super B Vitamin – natural lasting energy, and SO good for you.

    I have an email folder titled: Move Me. In it I put uplifting videos that guarantee a shift in energy and mood.

    Try “Stand By Me” Playing For Change video for a shift…



  • To have energy to complete work items I like to have enjoyable events scheduled. The enjoyable event could be sports, a movie, meeting with friends, etc. If I have an event I’m looking forward to, then I make sure I accomplish my To Do list… otherwise I may be too busy and miss the event. Days with no events can lack structure and I may not do work with a high level of energy.

  • Melanie

    When I used to be slugglish at work in the afternoon, a co-worker friend convinced me to go on a full-out sprint down the hallway. Not only did the exercise wake me up, but laughing from the pure hilarity of the fact that I’d just run down the hall at the office did the trick!

  • Perciful

    I like your ideas of getting outside in the sun and a ten minute walk all of which I do daily. I also try and really get into whatever task I’m working on. I also start my morning off with some music because It makes me feel energized. I have chronic fatigue syndrome and a big help is a small nap when I get home from work. Sometimes I don’t even fall asleep just rest. It gives me the energy to get out and do something in the evenings.

  • I completely agree about #6: Tackle an item on your To-do list. It’s amazing how easily something hanging over my head can weigh me down, and suck away my energy… and the longer it hangs, the heavier it gets. So to harvest energy, I’ve become a “to-do” warrior!

    I once read an neat metaphor about this concept:

  • Lisa

    If you’re feeling sluggish, it may also help to consider if there is something that is causing it. I had been taking allergy medicine, which at first made me feel better because I wasn’t congested. After a while though, I realized that I was feeling tired & sluggish in the morning even after a very good night’s sleep. I stopped the allergy medicine and I’m feeling better.

    • gretchenrubin

      Great suggestion! It’s easy to overlook something like that, but it can make
      a real difference.

  • For me great work is jogging. I want start in marathon, so i need do special exercise like 1 hour run 4 times at week. Its very hard to do, but i have a lot of energy.

  • Silver8

    Great tips! I also like doing some rounds of slow, deep breathing — outside, or by an open window, if possible.

  • Listen to an upbeat song is my favorite. I have a CD of happy tunes that I keep in the car and reserve for long drives where I’m starting to feel sleepy – cranking up the volume and bopping to some great music always perks me right up!

  • fivefingers

    I like the “tackle an item on your to-do list”. Somewhere along the way I came across a tip to put three easy-to-accomplish items as the first things to do when starting to work, to get into the groove of getting things ticked off the list – it works for me (when I remember to do it). http://www.bootsday.com

  • Annonymous

    NOT living in the ghetto would give me energy.
    I can barely step outside to get sun because either 1 of 4 (or all, etc) “adult” nosie “neighbors” on one side seems to ALWAYS come out, every single time, we have no privacy fence. Or, even worse, the other really ghetto “people” on the other side have their loud altered trucks running pumping the lethal exhaust fumes in our yard, marijuana smell, smoke smell, animal smell, gas & oil smell, and anything else taking over our rented yard. That’s just barely scratching the surface of the life-sucking ghetto that is literally killing me, and my “husband” says to deal with it.

  • Johannes DeSilentio

    One thing I found that works if I’m driving and sleepy; though it may not be welcome at the office, is to take your shoes off. The new sensations wake up your mind.

    • Ann

      I often take my shoes off at my desk (thank heavens for laidback offices) when I need a change of pace… never fails to help!

  • Sammy

    The happy music thing really does help, and the walking, and the water. I also find that when listening to the happy music I’m just LISTENING to it, but when you sing along it just naturally makes you happier, let’s you hear happiness in your voice that you don’t really feel, but hopefully you will once you’re done singing. Plus I love singing along to songs, so it’s not like it’s hard to do. 🙂

  • Marymargaret

    Happiness is truly an energy booster. I love your great ideas for action, interaction and thinking. Happiness to me is an attitude encompassing 4 facets, feeling, saying, thinking and acting. So if I can only experience happiness through one of my facets, I simply align the others to boost my happiness power.

    The one area where I find many people stuck is in the thinking or believing zone. When someone asks me if I think happiness is over rated I simply ask, what were you saying, believing and doing the last time you were happy? Would love to hear your 4 facet solution.


    Mary Margaret

  • Sumdawson

    A small V-8 is also a big help.  Lots of vegetables and not too much to gulp down in less than 30 seconds!

  • Anju

    Excellent list