Energy Boost #3: Take breaks
Multitasking is viewed as the way to get a lot done quickly. But taking a short break and doing absolutely nothing for a few minutes can help you overcome fatigue and actually get more done in the course of a day, says Jon Gordon, a Florida-based consultant who advises corporations and athletes on how to stay energized. One short break of 5 or 10 minutes or even less can boost your energy immediately, and making break time a habit can keep your energy up long-term, he says.
"If you take short breaks throughout the day, you will have more overall accomplishments," says Gordon, author of The Energy Bus.
Human performance studies show he's right. In one conducted at Louisiana State University and published in Computers and Industrial Engineering, researchers compared three different work-rest schedules for workers who used the computer. The schedule that allowed for briefer, more frequent breaks was best in terms of fighting fatigue and increasing productivity.
The researchers found that workers who took four breaks per hour, usually just 30 seconds each, followed by a 14-minute break after two hours of sitting at the computer, reported higher performance and worked faster and more accurately than their co-workers.
Energy Boost #4: Get moving
For an instant energy boost, drop out of your busy life for 10 minutes and hit the road, or the hallways of your office. "Walking is an energizer," says Gordon. Even a 10-minute walk can help you overcome feelings of fatigue.
And yes, it works better than a sugar infusion. In a study published two decades ago but still often-quoted, Robert Thayer, PhD, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, compared the energizing effects on 12 different days when 18 people either ate a candy bar or walked briskly for 10 minutes. Walking was the better bet. Walking increased energy for two hours. The sugar snack initially boosted energy, but after an hour, participants were more tired and had less energy.
Energy Boost #5: Take 5 and meditate
Numerous studies have demonstrated the fatigue-fighting effects of meditation, but there's no need to light candles, sit cross-legged, or learn a mantra. Mini-meditation can work wonders, says Judith Orloff, MD, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California Los Angeles and author of Positive Energy.
"A three-minute meditation is a way to calm yourself down and stop rushing," she says. "You can replenish yourself. You can take control of your energy."
Orloff suggests getting the day off to a positive start with a mini-meditation while you're still in bed, then continuing with short meditation breaks throughout the day. Any quiet place in your home or office will do, Orloff says. You can even use the office bathroom for an instant energy boost.
"Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths," Orloff says. "Begin to relax your body. When thoughts come, think of them like clouds in the sky. Let them float by. Visualize a positive thing: a sunset, the beach in Hawaii."