“Starting your morning with the right fuel can increase alertness and concentration,” says Heather Mangieri, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Pittsburgh. And no, a bagel or donut doesn’t cut it — refined carbs may deliver a spike of energy, but a crash quickly follows.
Instead, make breakfast a combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy, unsaturated fat. Think whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, topped with fruit and almonds, or two scrambled eggs with veggies and a slice of whole-wheat toast. The nutrients take longer to digest, giving you sustained energy until lunch.
2. Sniff a stimulating scent.
Keep a bottle of citrus or peppermint essential oil in your desk drawer and take a whiff whenever you need a pick-me-up. Or pop a peppermint or lemon drop candy or a stick of mint gum. Citrus aromas (such as grapefruit and lemon) and peppermint have been shown to trigger increased activity in areas of the brain associated with alertness, according to a study in the International Journal of Neuroscience. After smelling the fragrances, participants also performed math problems faster and felt less anxious.
3. Wear bright colors or decorate with them.
Looking at bright hues stimulates the brain and makes you feel more alert, according to the journal Color Research and Application. Red may be particularly helpful, especially if you need energy to focus on a complicated project, says Norbert Schwarz, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan. In a study, people who looked at red shapes on a computer screen answered questions more accurately than those gazing at blue ones. Why? Red hues can signal caution, which may make you more detail-oriented.
4. Turn on the radio.
Music is a near-instant way to put more pep in your step. Researchers at London’s Brunel University found that when study participants listened to upbeat songs while jogging, they exercised 15 percent longer and reported feeling happier than those who worked out in silence. Fast-paced music may subconsciously push us to step up our efforts, but you don’t have to be on a treadmill to reap the benefits. Cue up a dance-worthy playlist next time you have a marathon errand-running session or need to zip through your to-do list.
5. Organize your space.
A kitchen full of dirty dishes or papers strewn around your office could contribute to your lethargy. “When you clear out or give order to your surroundings, you feel more in control, letting you focus more energy on other things,” says Regina Leeds, author of One Year to an Organized Life. Tidying up a small area can also give you a sense of accomplishment, which helps feed your motivation to tackle other tasks on your to-do list, she says.
No matter what your to-do list or day holds, these tricks can help boost your energy and ward off that midday — or morning or evening — slump.
About Author: Catherine Ryan is a freelance writer and editor who writes on health, nutrition, beauty and green living for such magazines as Self, Ode and Parents. She is a frequent contributor to Life & Beauty Weekly