Ten Tips for an Emergency Energy Boost

How to be happier.
Dec. 23 2009 6:40 AM

Ten Tips for an Emergency Energy Boost

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Ten tips for an emergency energy boost.

When your energy level is low, everything feels like a chore -- even things would ordinarily make you happy. Holiday time can be draining, with lots of shopping, cooking, traveling, decorating, meeting, greeting, etc. to deal with. Or even if you're not doing these things, other people are, so something like a simple trip to the grocery store becomes a lot more difficult.

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There are many things we should on a regular basis to keep our energy levels high, like exercising and getting enough sleep . But what if you need more energy right now ? And you don't want to wait for the reward for your good habits to kick in?

Try one of these strategies:

1. Go outside into the sunlight . Light deprivation is one reason 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 . Even a ten-minute walk can give you a surge 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 zippy song. Hearing stimulating music gives an instant lift.

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 . Maybe you need to drive to an out-of-the-way store; or add the last, difficult touches to a homemade gift; or make a phone call to a difficult relative. You'll be amazed by the huge rush of energy you get when it's crossed off your list. If you're having trouble, try doing it first thing in the morning. The night before, decide what you're going to do, then get up and do it .

7. Clean up . For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. If you feel overwhelmed and listless, try tidying up. No heavy scrubbing, just tidy the surfaces. Making your surroundings more pleasant will help to give you energy -- plus, making visible improvements is a booster, too.

8. Jump! Yes, jump up and down a few times. I just started doing this, and it's amazing how energizing it is.

9. Note of caution: people often try to use food to boost their low energy . This obviously helps if you're actually hungry (and in my house, we constantly monitor people's hunger levels, because we all get so crabby when we're hungry), but if you're not hungry, eating ice cream out of the container -- tempting as it is -- won't really help.

10. Cut yourself, and other people, some slack . Didn't do holiday cards this year? Didn't cook the usual feast? Let it go. Holiday traditions are wonderful, but they can also be the source of anger, disappointment, and guilt -- aimed at ourselves and other people. A few years ago, at Halloween time, I somehow neglected to get us a pumpkin ! This counts as Mommy malpractice in my book. But you know what? It was okay.

"Energy is eternal delight," William Blake wrote, and it’s surprising how much sheer energy level can affect the quality of the happiness of a day.

What am I forgetting? Have you found any good strategies for a quick mood boost?

* In case you need to make a quick homemade holiday gift or card, or just want a moment of fun, check out Wordle . "Beautiful word clouds" -- so fun!

* 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:
-- Forward the link to someone you think would be interested
-- Link to a post on Twitter (follow me @gretchenrubin)
-- Sign up for my free monthly newsletter (about 30,000 people get it)
-- Pre-order the book for your friends (or yourself) -- here's an e-card to let them know it's coming
-- Join the 2010 Happiness Challenge to make 2010 a happier year
-- Put a link to the blog in your Facebook status update
Thanks! I really appreciate any help. Word of mouth is the BEST.