It can sometimes be hard to reset for summer, but as the days get warmer and longer it’s the perfect time to set new intentions for a healthier, more energetic you. Check out our five helpful ways to put the spring back in your step, and boost your energy levels this summer.
Increase your Iron
Iron carries oxygen in the blood and therefore has the ability to affect our energy levels greatly. Insufficient iron can be a huge blow to our energy levels and leave us with little momentum for the day ahead. Women are especially prone to low iron levels due to the amount of iron lost each month during menstruation, and the more iron the body uses, the more it needs.
If you are suffering from symptoms of fatigue, the best place to start is by looking to boost your iron intake through diet or by supplementation. Red meat, especially organ meat like liver is your best bet when it comes to optimum iron intake. The iron is in the heme form and is highly bioavailable. The copper in liver will help your body utilise the iron and it also contains zinc, which balances the copper, and most other minerals and vitamins – liver is really nature’s only multi vitamin and mineral! Lentils, kidney beans, chick peas, and leafy greens contain non-heme iron, which is just not that well absorbed. Taking Iron with Vitamin C will also help to increase its absorption. Boosting your iron levels will not only ensure you have enough energy to face the day, it also helps support optimal immunity.
The power of B Vitamins
B Vitamins are particularly important as together they help to support the mitochondria, which are the powerhouses of our cells. B Vitamins are water-soluble (meaning our bodies don’t typically store extra amounts) and are quickly depleted, particularly during times of stress when we need it most. B Vitamins are commonly found in, you guessed it – liver! Bs are also high in most organ meats and shellfish. Meat contains heaps of B12 and many of the other Bs but not quite in the amounts contained in organs. Because the B vitamins are water soluble, minimal cooking should be considered. This can make it problematic to get the full complement of B vitamins from things like whole grains, legumes, and dark green leafy vegetables because these foods really should be cooked before consumption; However, there are traditional food preparation practices that may improve availability of Bs from those sources. Sometimes it can be hard to achieve the necessary daily levels through diet alone making B Vitamin supplementation a helpful way to boost your energy levels.
When you are tired, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing; however, exercising can help to improve your energy levels. Burning calories and engaging in physical exercise sends oxygen and nutrients to the body’s cells. Spring is the perfect time of year to enjoy exercising in the outdoors, this will also increase your exposure to Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is needed to support our immune system and for the production of important neurotransmitters that boost our mood and energy levels. Not only that, exposure to natural light, through the eye and (safely) on the skin, throughout the day is essential for optimum energy production. If you feel too tired at the end of your day to exercise then try restorative yoga, pilates, or meditation instead – it will have the added benefit of helping you to get a better night’s sleep.
Reduce stress levels
Unfortunately, stress is a huge part of our modern, everyday life and it has a huge impact on the level of energy we have and operate with. Many of us realise how important it is to reduce stress however this can be easier said than done when you have pressing work deadlines or family commitments.
When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system is in control, meaning our body is preparing for the ‘fight or flight’ response. Our body responds to stress in the same way no matter what the source, therefore any type of stressor causes hormones to be released, raising our heart rate, blood pressure and reducing our body’s ability to repair and regenerate. How resilient you are to stress will affect how you react to various stressors, therefore it is important to support your body so that it can respond appropriately.
Breathing exercises can be a useful technique in helping quickly calm and decrease stress levels. Making yourself more aware of how you breathe, by breathing into the diaphragm and up towards the lungs can help the body slow down and rebalance. Take some time each day to focus on your breathing and you will be amazed at how calm this can make you feel. (Click here to read more about the 4-7-8 breathing technique)
Get a restorative sleep
During sleep, you are allowing your body to restore and repair. A regenerative sleep is an essential ingredient for optimal energy, and it can help to minimise the risk of major illnesses. Not only does sleep support your immune system, it improves mood, memory, mental and physical performance. It is recommended that you have 7-8 hours of sleep a day; however, it is not just about the quantity, but the quality of sleep.
Spending your nights tossing and turning can definitely make you feel exhausted the next day. If getting to sleep or not being able to stay asleep is a common pattern for you, it may be helpful to reflect on how your daily choices are affecting your sleep. It is recommended to avoid stimulants such as caffeine after lunch if you have trouble sleeping, but also to avoid alcohol before bed; because although it may initially make you drowsy it can disrupt your sleep. Blue-light from electronic devices can also disrupt sleep; therefore, instead of taking your phone to bed with you, try making your bedroom a device-free zone. Getting up with the sun and spending time outside from dawn to dusk balances cortisol and melatonin – your major sleep/wake cycle hormones.
If you are looking to achieve a new level of energy this summer, try some of these simple strategies to help you jump into summer with renewed energy.