It's hard to feel happy when you're dragging around. Simple tasks seem overwhelming, people seem annoying, and nothing seems fun.
Lots of good results flow from having plenty of energy. Life just seems more manageable. Also, studies show, you're more likely to feel good about yourself, and not only that, being considered an "energizer" makes you more likely to win a positive work evaluation.
For long-term energy, it's most important to A) get enough sleep and B) get some exercise. But that doesn't help you if you need some energy RIGHT NOW. If you're desperate for an immediate boost, try these tips:
1. Go outside into the sunlight; light deprivation is one reason that people feel tired. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning. And while you're outside...
2. Go for a brisk walk. One study found that even a 10 minute walk was enough to supply a feeling of energy and decreased tension.
3. Act with energy. We think we ACT because of the way we FEEL, but often we FEEL because of the way we ACT. Trick yourself into feeling energetic by moving more quickly, pacing while you talk on the phone, and putting more energy into your voice.
4. Listen to your favorite upbeat song. Hearing stimulating music gives an instant lift and is one of the quickest, most reliable ways to affect your mood and energy level. I'm always surprised by the effectiveness of this strategy.
5. Talk to an energetic friend. Not only do we gain energy from interacting with other people, we also -- in what's called emotional contagion -- "catch" their emotions. Instead of infecting others with your draggy mood, try to lift yourself by catching the energy of a boisterous friend.
6. Tackle an item on your to-do list. Unfinished tasks weigh us down. So if you feel bad about never having had a skin cancer check, or not having completed an overdue report, or not having faced this month's bills, force yourself to tackle one thing that's nagging you. It's tough, but you will feel a HUGE rush of energy when you cross it off your list.
7. Clean up. I'm not sure why tidying makes such a huge difference, but when I feel like I can't face the day, I just tidy up my desk, and I perk right up.
8. Eat -- if you're hungry. If you're actually hungry, eating makes a huge difference to your energy. Both my children become very droopy and crabby when hungry, and I've learned the hard way to pay close attention to this; I suffer from it myself. During the workday, my husband will go far too long without eating, so I try to remind him to eat enough, as well. However, it can be tempting to eat a snack to try to get an energy boost even when you're not hungry. If food isn't the problem, other strategies to boost your energy may be healthier.
"Exuberance is beauty," William Blake wrote, and it's surprising how much sheer energy level can affect the quality of the happiness of a day.
What have I overlooked? Do you have any great short-term energy-boosting strategies?
* It's Word-of-Mouth Day, when I gently encourage (or, you might think, pester) you to spread the word about the Happiness Project. You might:
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Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.