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5 Natural Ways to Increase Energy and Productivity

07 May 2022

Nowadays, energy often seems to be in short supply. We are always rushing around, trying to fit as much into our day as we possibly can, and burnout has become a painfully common aspect of modern culture.

Accompanying this energy drought is a seemingly neverending supply of supposed cures, that promise to jolt you into action in a blink of an eye. These include energy drinks, chocolate and other sugary products and of course coffee or tea.

The problem is that the long term trade-off for the short term energy boost is often negative and can leave you feeling worse than when you started. With so much focus on what we can put into our bodies to make us more energetic, we forget that our bodies have developed over millions of years and we are more than capable of being fully energised naturally.

Movement

One of the biggest problems in modern society is our lack of movement. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle is playing havoc with our bodies in countless ways, including back and neck issues, obesity, heart disease, spinal issues, as well as many more.

Yet perhaps the most obvious effect a lack of movement has on our body is an increased sense of fatigue, even when we really haven’t done anything to warrant feeling tired. Just 30 minutes of exercise per day can do wonders for energy levels as well as make us calmer and help to reduce anxiety.

The term runner's high has long been debated, but the general consensus today is that it is not only real but one of our secret weapons we can tap into whenever we want.       

Sleep

Whoever termed the phrase, ‘sleep when you’re dead’, almost certainly had very little idea about just how important sleep is to us.  

Considering how simple and natural sleeping is, it’s surprising how many people are doing it terribly. Our problems with sleep have become synonymous with the changes in our society that we have seen over the last few decades. We attempt to cram as much into our day as we can, which leaves us frantically trying to cobble together enough sleep.

Sleeping well is not just about the right amount (7-8 hours), it’s also about the quality of our slumbering. Who cares if you are in bed for ten hours but only actually sleeping for five of those. Making sure you create a sleep pattern that works for you is absolutely vital for maintaining energy levels.

Without the required amount of sleep, the human body will eventually start to falter and slow down, but that’s just the start, with high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure, strokes, obesity, depression, reduced immune system function and lower sex drive all linked to a lack of sleep.  

Water

Apart from air, the most vital ingredient humans require is your bog-standard, everyday water. In the age of energy drinks, Coke and Pepsi, Mcdonald’s milkshakes, teas and coffees, many people rarely consider water a viable beverage option.

With only 10% of the UK population drinking enough water, dehydration and the risks that go with it is a serious matter that we conveniently overlook. If you’re feeling sluggish during the working day, your water levels should be one of the first aspects to consider. Adult males need around 3.7 litres of water per day, while women need slightly less at 2.7 litres to stay healthy.

If you’re not at least close to this figure, you’re almost certainly dehydrated and energy levels will begin to drop as a result.  

Breathing

From one vital ingredient to another. Oxygen is everything to a human being and even elite level deep-sea divers can only go up to five minutes without this most precious ingredient.

Breathing is easy, but surprisingly, many people are doing it completely wrong. Many of us tend to take short shallow breaths instead of the deep, life-giving inhalation that activates our air sacs in the lungs known as the alveoli, which is one of the best ways to help us relax.

Shallow breathing has been linked with numerous issues, such as fatigue, stress, anxiety and inflammation because it constantly sets off the sympathetic nervous system. Essentially we are priming our bodies for flight or fight at all times, while deep, slow breaths that go all the way down trigger our parasympathetic nervous system, the body’s natural rest and digest state.

However, deep breaths are just the start. There are a wide variety of breathing techniques out there right now, some to help with sleep or relaxation, while others, such as the Wim Hof Method, are excellent to do first thing in the morning to provide the body with a nice natural energy boost.     

Relax

If you’re looking to raise your energy levels, relaxation might seem like a strange way to go about it, but with the body requiring a complicated balance of up and downtime, finding a way to relax and clear your mind is hugely important to maintain overall energy levels.

We live in a constantly rushed society and even when people are “relaxing” you will often find them playing on their phones, an activity that probably activates the fight and flight mode in you rather than your natural relaxation state.

However you choose to relax is up to you, but it’s important to ask yourself whether you are actually relaxed. Are you slumped on the sofa but still fretting about deadlines? Are you lying on a beautiful beach but still emailing colleagues? Detaching from work life is hugely important and one of the key ways of swerving the dreaded burnout that we see so much of these days.