Despite your best efforts to plan your day, there are often additional demands on your time. To cope, you will frequently have to call on your energy reserves to boost your staying power. You can’t afford to wilt when the pressure is on – so here are some tips to have you feeling more zip instead of feeling zapped…

1. Understand your rhythms.

It’s OK to experience fatigue, because it’s natural to get tired at the same time every day – it’s part of a rhythm. That’s why understanding that rhythm is so important. The best way to cope with your daily rhythm is to work it into your schedule – doing the things that demand the most energy when you’re fresh and, conversely, keeping the less demanding tasks for when you’re in a trough. And the highs and lows can be different for each individual.

2. Watch what you eat.

You are what you eat, so select foods that keep you competitive. Consider these tips to fuel your brain and body:

  • Carbohydrates are good fuel, but a lunch of pasta can slow you down in the afternoon. Stay away from foods high in fat. Food that combines protein with carbohydrates – a chicken sandwich, for example – helps offset fatigue.
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables are essential for providing vitamins and minerals, preventing fatigue, and boosting mental recall and concentration.
  • Maintain an even blood-sugar level that keeps fuel flowing to your brain and muscles by eating small, regular helpings. Avoid a large meal when you need to be alert.
  • Go for complex carbohydrates – fruit or crackers. They will keep you going longer than lollies.
  • Drink caffeine in moderation. It can improve mental performance, but excessive amounts don’t increase mental alertness beyond the effects of the original dose.

3. Eat smart

A well-balanced diet is one thing; but if you don’t have good eating habits as well, sooner or later you will do yourself a good deal of damage. So don’t skip breakfast, and make sure it’s a healthy one. Don’t miss lunch, or rush it, or eat it on the run; but eat light meals. And watch those during-the-day snacks- often they’re loaded with fat, salt, caffeine, and sugar.

4. Exercise regularly.

Get an energy boost by doing something you enjoy. How about 30 to 45 minutes of brisk walking four to five times a week before breakfast? Or 30 minutes of more vigorous activity, such as jogging or aerobics, three or four times a week? A short walk after lunch brushes away early-afternoon cobwebs. Remember, too, that a short exercise break, even a few stretching and breathing exercises in the office, will do more good for you than a caffeine break.

5. Get enough sleep.

Get the amount of sleep your body needs. Some people can do with less than others. Study yourself to learn how much sleep you require to feel rested and invigorated.

Get the best sleep by following a few simple preparations:

  • Sleep naked or in loose clothes.
  • Have good ventilation, fresh air being best.
  • Sleep in a moderate temperature.
  • Restrict noise.
  • Buy the best mattress you can afford: firm and comfortable.
  • Change your bed linen regularly.

And remember, if you can’t sleep, the worst thing you can do is to worry about it. Just lie still, relax, and remember that resting is almost as restorative as sleep.

6. Identify and deal with those spirit zappers.

Though fatigue seems physical, it can also be a sign of mental distress – even depression and anger. Excessive tiredness and that run-down feeling should be viewed as danger signs.

Be alert to what’s bothering you, whether it’s a change in your life, a new boss, a domestic problem, or some other stressful situation. But do not suppress your feelings – that effort consumes energy. A much better alternative is to change how you view and deal with such events.

7. Learn from those who rely on energy.

Athletes can’t afford fatigue when they’re engaged in competition. One of their favourite ‘energy-grabbers’ is deep breathing. By taking three long, slow, deep breaths, pausing for long enough to let the air circulate, then exhaling slowly, pulling in their abdomens as they do, they’re refuelled and ready to proceed. The technique can be used just as well when the ‘competition’ you’re facing is a boss waiting for a report, an irate customer, or merely drowsiness.

8. Choose your company wisely.

Energy is catching – so too is a feeling of fatigue. Associate with people whose energy you can feed off. Similarly, stay away from negative people. Life is too short to go around with your battery half-charged and being continually drained by depressing colleagues.

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