Everyone is familiar with all-out energy drain â€” that exhausted feeling when no matter how interesting something sounds, you just canâ€™t work up the energy to go.
What can be harder to recognize is a low-grade energy drain. You may not feel the classic signs of exhaustion â€” achy muscles or that all-over tired feeling. What you do experience is an increasing lack of get-up-and-go for many of the activities you once loved.
"You may also find it harder to concentrate on tasks, and, eventually, you can also find your patience grows short and your level of frustration rises, even when confronted with seemingly simple challenges," according to New York University nutritionist Samantha Heller, MS, RD.
An article published on the WebMD website offers several tips for how to boost energy.
Increase Magnesium and Vitamin B Intake
Eating a balanced diet can help ensure your vitamin and mineral needs are met. However, ongoing lack of energy can be a sign of a magnesium deficiency, according to Heller.
"This mineral is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including breaking down glucose into energy," Heller said. "So when levels are even a little low, energy can drop."
In a study done at the Department of Agricultureâ€™s Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D., women with magnesium deficiencies had higher heart rates and required more oxygen to do physical tasks than they did after their magnesium levels were restored.
The recommended daily intake of magnesium is around 300 milligrams for women and 350 milligrams for men.
Some magnesium-rich foods include almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, whole grains, particularly bran cereal and fish.
Research shows that B vitamins such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, thiamine and niacin support the energy metabolism process,â€ according to Andrew Shao, PhD, from the Council for Responsible Nutrition. B vitamins affect how the body processes the nutrients we eat and how it converts them into energy.
It might seem counter-productive to do more when you feel exhausted, but experts say increasing activity, especially by walking, will help increase energy. Research results from California State University showed a brisk 10-minute walk not only increased energy, but the effects lasted up to two hours. And when the daily 10-minute walks continued for three weeks, overall energy levels and mood were lifted.
Take a Power Nap
Research has shown that both information overload and pushing our brains too hard can zap energy. But studies by the National Institutes of Mental Health found that a 60-minute â€œpower napâ€ can not only reverse the mind-numbing effects of information overload, it may also help us to better retain what we have learned.
Don't Skip Meals
Studies show that folks who eat breakfast report being in a better mood and have more energy throughout the day. Studies published in the journal Nutritional Health found that missing any meal during the day led to an overall greater feeling of fatigue by dayâ€™s end.
Reduce Stress and Deal With Anger
One of the biggest energy zappers is stress, according to psychologist Paul Baard, PhD. Stress can leave you mentally and physically exhausted, as can worry or fear. Chronic low levels of stress erode energy levels, so over time you find yourself doing less and feeling it more. Likewise, unexpressed anger can drain energy because it takes so much energy to contain the angry feelings, according to Baard.
The effects of these energy-killers can be lessened by programming more relaxation activities into our day. Some people increase exercise to burn off the chemical effects of stress and anger, while others find relief in quiet pursuits such as listening to music, reading or talking on the phone.