The season of sunshine, long days, cool nights, BBQ’s, vacations, and outdoor activities is upon us - finally! With the additional sunshine providing more of that glorious daylight for summertime activities, sleeping in and naps have lost all their shiny luster and allure.
Not only are the summer months filled with more outdoor activities, they also have other naturally occurring phenomena that make sleep more difficult. Take, for example, the light that hits your bedroom in mid-December versus early July. For many of us, this provides a stark difference in sleeping in arrangements. While a quick pillow over your face can help some, the natural light works to awaken your body’s clock, which makes sleeping in a battle set for defeat. Let’s not forget the additional heat a well-lit room provides, fighting the warmth can make you sleepier and you might as well rise with the chickens to embrace the change.
In addition to the physical differentiations in our sleep settings during the summer months, the increase in temperature during this period encourages the consumption of cold beverages, many of which can be loaded with sugar or alcohol, increasing your risk of dehydration while disrupting your natural sleep patterns.
Being mindful of these natural shifts that occur in the summer months can make the transition to the warmer season more manageable. The extra sunshine can help provide a natural boost of energy, unfortunately many of us can’t reap the benefits of hours of vitamin D while working at a desk all day long. Early morning meetings run into working lunches moving us straight into afternoon hours where we need to be productive. How do we fight off the sleepy 3:00 PM hour, especially when we aren’t able to get a good night of sleep?
Rather than reaching for that extra cup of joe, which can make falling asleep in the evening harder, opt for a natural boost of energy. Check out below 7 quick tips to give your mind and body a surge of energy that will propel you through the end of your workday and clear into the evening hours.
1. Take a moment to laugh
You read that correctly. Laugh. Laughing produces many incredible benefits, such as increasing your mood and decreasing stress. Fortunately, the benefits it doesn’t stop there! Laughing also works as a natural energy shot! Stress and anxiety are energy zapping emotions. When we laugh, we flood our bloodstreams with oxygen and help flip any negatives emotions to more positive and energizing emotions. Laughing also fights burnout by giving you back your energy!
Take a short break from your work to laugh. Watch a few clips on YouTube (work appropriate) or read a joke of the day. If you can, involve a co-worker! Studies show that we laugh more when we’re laughing with others.
2. Break out the aromatherapy
Essential oils anyone? The aromatic molecular compounds in essential oils can pass through the blood/brain barrier, directly affecting the areas in your brain that control feelings of stress, anxiety, and mental fatigue. Benefits of aromatherapy:
- increase productivity and positive mindset,
- help refocus and increase concentration, and
- alleviate fatigue and stress responses.
When you are struggling with low energy, simply apply essential oils topically or inhale gently to re-energize your mind and body. Specifically, look for scents including orange, peppermint, and lemon to boost your energy. Once you locate your favorite sent, twist off the cap and take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe in that sweet scent. You can also use a spray to spritz your desk. Of course, check with your officemates before you share your bouquet with the rest of the office.
3. Listen to uplifting music
Have you ever turned on a song only to be immediately driven to a moment years ago? The gift of a happy melody has the ability to transform any moment from stress to joy. In fact, studies have found that short bursts of music increase the blood flow to the left hemisphere of the brain, giving you a burst of energy.
Take time to search for, or build your own, playlist of songs that uplifts your mood. Then, when you start to feel yourself slouching back in your chair, put your headphones in, turn up that song – and jam!
4. Sit up straight
It seems only natural that when your energy starts to wane you sink back into your chair as if you can slowly make your way to a horizontal rest. We have a tendency to sit or stand with our shoulders, neck, and head is shifted slightly forward. This affects your arteries that carry blood to your brain. When your arteries are bent out of shape, you restrict the blood flow to the brain, which, in turn, causes fatigue.
In order to decrease the energy wasted through blood flow constriction, simply sit up straight. Lengthen the crown of your head to the ceiling, invite a little arch to your low back, then roll your shoulder to sit over your hips and bring your chin parallel to the floor. Give it a try right now.
Feeling better already? Maybe even add a smile to your face.
5. Breathe deeply
Just saying breathe deeply helps bring awareness to your unconscious breathing patterns. Shallow breathing prevents your body from getting the necessary oxygen it needs to function properly. Are you noticing a theme here? Research shows that when you mindfully control your breathing, you can increase your brain size in the areas associated with attention and processing of sensory input. Strengthen your mind by exercising your breath.
Let’s do this one together. Take a deep breath in [pause] and then exhale all your breath out. For best results, repeat this exercise for 4 or 5 rounds before moving back into your task at hand.
6. Chew a piece of gum
Sugar free of course! Chewing gum increases your heart rate, which in turn stimulates your blood flow to your brain. Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales found “[chewing gum] stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which can increase alertness.”
Want an extra kick? Pick a mint-flavored pack to stimulate your nerve fibers. Mint helps to invigorate your taste buds, which can produce an effect that is similar to splashing cold water on your face.
7. Massage your ears.
This one’s a little silly, but trust us. When you’re dragging during the day, and looking for energy boosting ideas, you’ll be all ears! All of your body’s acupressure meridians, i.e., your energy pathways, pass through your outer ears. By massaging the outer ear, you can unite the meridians and move energy through your entire body.
Apply pressure to the outer rim by simply pinching the rim of each ear between your thumbs and pointer fingers. Then, rub up and down for 10 to 30 seconds. Repeat again as needed.
So, the next time you feel yourself start to drag resist the urge to hit brew on your fancy coffee machine. After all, caffeine loses its power as you build up a tolerance within your system. Instead, opt for a natural energy supplement to pump more oxygen through your body and carry you through the long summer days. Laugh often, enjoy invigorating essential oils, turn up the music, sit up straight, breathe deeply, pop in a piece of gum, and last, but not least, massage your ears and enjoy your new found energy!