We introverts know that spending time alone energizes us, but are you truly feeling energized in your alone time?
Before I started eating healthy, I would rush home and hide in my room to recover from feeling exhausted after school and work. Even after hours of spending time alone in my room, I would still feel drained. I would often get colds, be grouchy, and feel depressed and sensitive to everyone and everything around me.
Eventually, I found that there was more to my life than feeling sick and tired all the time, even when I thought I took a lot of quiet time for myself.
I did the following things, and over time, I felt happier and more energized, and I was less likely to catch a cold (I do rarely now, even if others around me are ill).
Drink more water.
I used to not care for drinking water — I didn’t like drinking water at all! I would rather have juice or a whole can of Sprite. As I sipped more water, I eventually crowded out the soda and juices that drained my energy. When we’re dehydrated, we feel tired and sluggish.
Before reaching for another cup of coffee or a candy bar, drink a glass of water, wait a few minutes, and then decide if you really need the boost from caffeine or sugar. Drinking water before having a sugary treat or caffeine not only lessens your desire to reach for that sugary treat or coffee, but it also wakes you up.
Have less (or stop having) caffeine.
When I worked at a local coffee shop, I chugged my double espresso with organic soy and hazelnut syrup to power me through the day. I had little sleep since I had to be up early for my 4:30 a.m. shift. I would have the energy to get through the morning rush, but I was exhausted and irritated, and I wanted to shut off from the world at the end of my shift. I could forget about drinking more water during that busy time.
Caffeine dehydrates you, which makes you feel tired if you don’t drink enough water with it. Caffeine also mimics the blood sugar high-and-crash roller coaster, which can make your mood go all over the place.
Eat more dark leafy green veggies.
Before you groan (because I did too, I used to hate veggies), remember that veggies are full of vitamins and nutrients that not only strengthen your immune system, but also lift your mood and give you energy to take on your busy day. When I started slowly eating more green veggies, I had fewer and shorter colds (they used to last at least a month), more energy, and I felt less heavy.
Use natural sweeteners.
White, refined sugar, usually found in baked goods and candies, and hidden in your favorite brands of peanut butter and cereal, don’t have the vitamins, minerals, and fiber your body needs, so your body has a difficult time digesting these foods, giving you the dreadful sugar high and crash. Instead, use natural sweeteners, like pure maple syrup, raw honey, and brown rice syrup, which have more nutrients, in place of white sugar.
Experiment with animal protein.
When I ate a lot of chicken and meat, my stomach felt heavy and I felt lethargic. I’m not saying that you have to go vegan or vegetarian, because every body is different—the amount of animal protein one person may need to feel energized may not energize someone else. Even eating too little animal protein can make you feel lethargic, so experiment with eating more or less and respect your body’s individuality.
Set boundaries in relationships that drain you.
When I was honest with myself, I realized that some of my friends or love interests had little to offer in return within our relationship. Figure out who drains your energy and why. Then, decide how to set boundaries. Perhaps this means simply giving less of your energy to that person by keeping in touch through text or e-mail, instead of phone calls or in-person meetings. This can seem scary, but you’ll create more time to keep in touch with more quality people, and make room for new people to come into your life.
Get in touch with your spiritual side.
Whether this is praying, meditating, practicing yoga, going to church or temple, or being in nature, feeding your spiritual side in a way that makes sense for you, and not how others say you should, will add meaning to your life and feed and energize you on a deeper level. For me, I love meditating, yoga and drawing, but for you, your spiritual practice can be something completely different, and that’s okay. It comes down to feeling aligned with your life, which makes you feel at peace.
One of my favorite ways to start my day is by giving myself the boost of energy I need with a healthy breakfast loaded with fruits, lean protein, healthy fats, and maybe veggies. I found that if I skipped breakfast, I was moody. My go-to energizing smoothie is a great way to give your body the nutrients it needs to satisfy you and energize you until lunch time, your mid-morning snack, or even your afternoon pick-me-up.
Chocolate Banana Bliss Smoothie (serves 1)
1 cup almond or coconut milk
1 ripe banana
½ cup kale (I promise, you won’t taste it!)
2 tablespoons cashew or almond butter
1 tablespoon raw honey
2 tablespoons raw cacao
Add almond/coconut milk before putting the remaining dry ingredients into a blender. Blend until smooth, then pour the smoothie into your favorite cup and enjoy.