Feeling exhausted? Modern living for the sandwich generation can be tiring. Between balancing work, teenagers (or adult children) and dealing with ageing parents, Australians over 50 often don’t take the time to eat properly or look after themselves. These 8 tips will keep your energy levels up so you can tackle whatever life throws at you.
1. Take a nature walk at least once a week
If you live in an urban area, chances are you are constantly ‘switched on’ and regularly bombarded with information through your environment, phone or other devices. In fact, according to Finnish researchers people living in urban areas display higher levels of fatigue and stress than those surrounded by green spaces. Queensland researchers found that simply visiting a green space such as a local park or bushland for 30 minutes or more at least once a week can help. Some research even suggests places with a higher concentration of plants, butterflies and birds can further restore energy levels1.
2. Get regular sleep to restore your energy hormones
During a good night’s rest our body restores the hormones that regulate energy balance, stress, concentration, appetite and much more. But how much sleep is the right amount? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society, aiming for 7-9 hours of sleep each night boosts energy levels during the day and improves your overall health, even more if you missed out on sleep the night before or are feeling ill.
3. Try a power nap but don't over do it
If you’re not getting enough regular shut-eye, experts say a power nap for 10-20 minutes in the afternoon can restore energy and performance. According to researchers at Flinders University, taking a nap around 2pm is going to give you the best results. Just don’t nap for too long or risk feeling groggy and disrupting your body clock.
4. Reclaim your lunch break
Are you working through your lunch break on a regular basis? If so, it’s inevitable you will feel more sluggish and burnt out by the end of the day. But what’s even worse, according to American research, is when you have no choice in the matter. Their study of around 100 employees found that people who were forced to work through their lunch break were more fatigued than those who actively chose to ‘power through’ to complete a work task. So, reclaim your lunch break, but more importantly, use it wisely! Go for a walk, eat your meal away from the desk, or organise a quick catch up or phone call with family and friends.
5. Control energy spikes with the right foods
Eating the right foods at the right time can make a world of difference. Low GI foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts and milk release energy more slowly and keep you feeling energised for longer during the day.
To help you wind down and get ready for sleep, eat foods high in tryptophan, which produces the hormones serotonin and melatonin. According to the Jean Hailes Foundation, the best dinnertime meal includes carbohydrates, protein and some calcium; and a good dose of tryptophan from seafood, chicken, turkey, red meat, legumes, eggs and soy products.
Packing your meals with vegies can help you feel energised for longer
6. Pay attention to your coenzyme Q10 levels
To function properly, our heart and skeletal muscles demand a lot of energy and require a constant supply of the right nutrients. One of these nutrients is the naturally occurring ubiquinone, also known as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), which has antioxidant activity, is involved in energy production and supports heart health. Ageing can also slow down the body’s capacity to produce this powerful antioxidant. Symptoms of deficiency include fatigue and muscle pains. CoQ10 is found in small amounts in some meats (e.g. beef liver) and oily fish; however some people may need a supplement* to maintain a healthy range.
7. Don’t fight your body clock
Regardless if you are a morning lark or a night owl, set a regular sleep and energy pattern and stick to it! If you wake up with a burst of energy use it to your advantage and tackle harder tasks or those that require more concentration in the morning. Don’t skip breakfast, opt for low-GI choices such as porridge or oats, and snack on nuts and fruit to avoid crashing by mid-afternoon. If you are more productive in the late afternoon or evening make sure you stop and wind down at a specific time (set an alarm if you have to) to avoid working through the entire night and going to bed feeling hyper-alert.
8. If you notice any red flags, see your doctor
If you’re feeling extremely fatigued and simple changes don’t make a difference, you could be experiencing a more serious health problem. Chronic or sudden fatigue could be a sign of a more serious health condition. Make an appointment with your doctor to rule out anything sinister.
*Do not take CoQ10 while on warfarin therapy without seeking medical advice. CoQ10 supplements can interact with some medications. It is always advised to speak with your health practitioner before beginning supplementation of CoQ10.
1Dallimer, M. et al. Biodiversity and the feel-good factor: understanding associations between self-reported human well-being and species richness. BioScience 62, 47–55 (2012).
What helps you keep your energy levels up? Comment below.
This article was brought to you by Australian NaturalCare. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of taking Coenzyme Q10 and see the special offer Australian NaturalCare are extending to WYZA members click here.