Boost your energy naturally

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Old 09-Apr-2012
Boost your energy naturally

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In Carole Matthews' book The Chocolate Lovers' Diet, when a member of the Chocolate Lovers' Club gets stressed, a meeting is called to discuss the problem over - what else? - chocolate. They've got a good reason for doing so because chocolate is packed with mood-enhancing phenethylamine (PEA) that can wash away all the cares and worries in the world. But cocoa isn't the only thing to reach for when you need a boost.

If you're tired of feeling tired, it's time you tried these natural ways to recharge, so you can regain control and enjoy the healthy, active life you deserve.

Give fatigue the boot

Dubai-based ACE-certified (American Council of Exercise) fitness expert Bernadette Abraham says exercising regularly helps keep stress at bay. When a person is stressed the body releases cortisol (the stress hormone) and when you exercise the body releases endorphins and serotonin (the feel-good chemicals) that reduce the impact of stress. Exercising also helps with blood circulation and the elimination of waste and toxins from the body. It strengthens muscles and makes you feel stronger and less fatigued.

There are several types of exercise that boost energy. If you're already fit, then high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is great. It involves a series of 30-second bursts of intense exercises like jump squats (cardio and legs), push-ups (chest, shoulder and triceps), burpees (cardio and full body) and elbow planks (core and shoulders), followed bya ten-second rest period.

Start by doing one exercise as hard as you can for 30 seconds then take a ten-second break. Then repeat this work-and-rest combination six times for each exercise. In total, this will only take you 16 minutes to complete, so you can easily squeeze it into your day. The best part is, you don't need an expensive gym membership or fancy equipment - you can do this at home!

If that's too intense, try an interval circuit. Do 30 seconds of one exercise followed by a 15-second rest, then move on to the next exercise and follow the same work-rest combination. Repeat the cycle until you have done each exercise four times. This is a short 12-minute workout that you can also fit into your day and complete easily at home. For beginners Bernadette recommends any physical activity or sport that you enjoy such as walking, cycling and swimming.

Take a deep breath

Another strategy that can help you de-stress and relieve fatigue is trying different breathing techniques, says Guillaume Mariole, managing director at Ignite Fitness and Wellness in Dubai. Deep breathing involves the respiratory muscles of the chest and the belly, the lower ribcage and lower back, which help activate the branch of the autonomic nervous system known as the parasympathetic nervous system. This controls the nerves in the liver, pancreas, stomach and intestines that are responsible for digestion. It also works to nourish and heal the body. Taking a deep breath helps to rejuvenate the body and the mind by harmonising your nervous system.

Guillaume recommends finding a quiet spot where you can meditate or do yoga. You can also try the Five Tibetan Energy rejuvenation exercises, a form of yoga that comprises five poses or movements. If you're short on time it's great! It takes only about 15 minutes per session.

The movements include:
  • Spinning
  • Bending at the waist and raising your legs behind you
  • Camel pose (go on your knees, then reach behind and grasp your heels, one hand at a time, then bring your hips forward so they are over your knees; tilt your head back to open the throat)
  • Table pose (go on your hands and knees with your palms directly below your shoulders and your knees hip-width apart; keep your back straight and your neck extended then gaze straight ahead)
  • the cobra followed by downward dog (lie on your belly with your palms down and placed just under your shoulders, slowly straighten your elbows to lift your upper body off the ground, arch your back and your neck and then lower yourself back down; then move into downward dog, lift your knees off the ground and raise your hips in the air to form a mountain shape, keeping your legs straight; aim to keep your feet flat on the floor and pointing forward)

These poses will help balance the chakras (energy centres) in your body. In Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth, Book 2, Peter Kelder explains that the Five Tibetan Rites affect the body, emotions and the mind. He says the benefits include, "looking much younger; sleeping soundly; waking up feeling refreshed and energetic… greatly improved physical strength, endurance and vigour; improved emotional and mental health; enhanced sense of well-being and harmony; and very highoverall energy."

Eat your way to a healthy life

Your body needs the correct fuel (minerals, vitamins and trace elements) to run at an optimum level. Compromising on your diet will affect you in the future whether it's an hour, a day or even a few days from the time you ate, says Lily Mueller, nutritionist at Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre. If you're suffering from tiredness and fatigue, Lily suggests eating small amounts of highly nutritious foods such as a bananas, sunflower seeds and nuts like almonds.

Avoid white bread, white pasta, white potatoes and rice as they're high on the glycaemic index and, when eaten often, cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Symptoms of hypoglycaemia include fatigue, moodiness and mental fogginess. "Selecting lower glycaemic index grains such as wholegrains that have not been refined - for example kamut, 100 per cent wholewheat [products], sweet potatoes and brown rice - will help to keep your energy up and weight down," Lily says.

Eating the right amount of protein helps balance blood sugar, which in turn prevents energy fluctuations and will help keep you active. According to Lily, optimal sources of protein are those that are lower in saturated fat, such as low-fat dairy products - like yogurt, cottage cheese and other cheeses - chicken, fish, turkey, soy and egg whites. It is also important to keep hydrated - at least eight glasses per day! - including fresh fruit and vegetable juices, herbal teas and vegetable broth. Lily advises avoiding coffee and fizzy drinks. "They contain caffeine, a stimulant that when consumed in excess can affect heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in a temporary rush of energy that's followed by a period of exhaustion," she says.

Declutter your mind

When we hear the word ‘clutter' we often think about our homes, but there is a dangerous type lurking in the shadows - the internal kind. So many things crowd our minds and end up taking too much of our energy. You can inject some fun and revitalise your life if you get rid of some of that clutter. Just for a moment imagine you're de-cluttering your house, what will you get rid of and what are you going to keep? Well, the same principle applies when it comes to clearing your mind.

Do some introspection and decide what goes and what stays. Get rid of all you emotional baggage - feelings of resentment, anger, jealousy and superiority.

"One of the simplest ways to free yourself from conflicts, whether external or internal, is to stop for a moment and ask yourself if the other person could be right. We lose a lot of inner peace through our need to be right," says Devika Singh, licensed psychologist and learning enrichment specialist at Dubai Herbal and Treatment Centre. It's important to let go, forgive and move on. This will give you peace of mind.

Get enough rest

Are you burnt out at work or are struggling to achieve a work-life balance? Set realistic goals and don't push yourself too much. At times you can be torn between what you would like to do versus what you can do, Devika says. Take some time out and relax, read a book, listen to your favourite music or simply do nothing at all. It is important to allow yourself some rest without feeling guilty, she adds. Most importantly, get enough sleep. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary where you can relax after a hard day of work. If you are rested, you'll be rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.

Indulge your senses

If you can't sleep or you're so tired you can't even go out with family or friends on a Thursday night, try oils. "There are various oils that can be used to treat fatigue," says Sunita Teckchand, principal tutor at The Holistic Institute, Dubai. "There are around 300 essential oils that can be used in clinical aromatherapy," These oils can be used to ease anxiety and stress, soothe tense muscles, energise your body and uplift your mood.

To help you sleep well, rub 5ml of an essential oil on your chest and the soles of your feet 30 minutes before going to bed. You can prepare your own by mixing 20ml of sweet almond oil, 5ml of wheatgerm (to prevent rancidity), eight drops each of Roman chamomile, mandarin and clary sage, and six drops of valerian. When the blend is rubbed on the skin it gets absorbed into the bloodstream and soothes and relaxes the body and induces a restful sleep, Sunita says.

If you want to relax, blend equal amounts of Cape Snowbush, pine and eucalyptus essential oils. Put nine to 12 drops of oil in a warm bath and soak for 15-20 minutes.

"Warm water helps open pores and the oils get absorbed fast," says Sunita.

Of course, if you want to splurge, an aromatherapy massage will leave you in a blissful state.

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