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, Bob Sutton points out in his terrific book, The No A*****le Rule, being considered an “energizer” makes you far more likely to win a positive work evaluation.
For long-term energy, it’s most important to A) get enough sleep and B) exercise regularly. 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. Also, research shows that when people move faster, their metabolism speeds up.
4. Listen to your favorite upbeat song. Hearing stimulating music gives an instant lift. 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. Drink some COFFEE! Coffee gets a bad rap, but fact is, it really does boost alertness, energy, and ability to focus. (Plus it’s a great source of antioxidants and – surprise! – contains a high level of soluble dietary fiber.)
9. Note of caution: people often try to use food to boost their low energy, but these other strategies are more effective and more healthful.
“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.
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