Updated: Mar 10, 2020
A good mental health therapist will tell you that all of us need mental energy as well as therapy to meet the challenges and opportunities of our lives with gusto. Many of us think that that mental energy has to come from caffeinated drinks or dietary supplements. A huge industry has risen around supplying us with canned mental energy.
There’s nothing wrong with a few cups of coffee or tea, and some herbal supplements have promising benefits. Relying too heavily on these methods, however, can take a huge toll on your health and on your wallet.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can boost your mental energy by making subtle lifestyle changes instead of running to the coffee shop or apothecary.
1. Get The Right Amount Of Sleep
Your body and brain need sleep. Cutting back on sleep can make it seem like you are being more productive if it adds hours to the day, but cutting back on sleep makes you function less effectively.
Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, so the best thing to do is to find out how much sleep you need by taking a few days off and going to bed when you feel sleepy and waking up when you naturally would. After that, you can use this measure to make a sleep schedule that fits your needs.
2. Balance Simple And Complex Carbs At Breakfast
Your brain needs energy to function just like your body does and the kind of energy that you give it – especially early in the day – can make a huge difference.
Complex carbs from sources like cereals and bread slowly give you energy throughout the day. Simple carbs from sources like fruit give you a rush of energy and then burn out. Combining these sources by putting jam on toast or chopped fruit on oatmeal can get you started and sustain you until your next meal.
Proteins aren’t a major source of energy for most people, but they do offer some energy and take time to digest so incorporating a protein into your morning meal can also help you feel full for longer.
3. Get Vitamins And Minerals From A Balanced Diet
The kinds of carbs that you get in aren’t the only way that a healthy diet can help you to stay sharp. Your brain functions and communicates with other parts of your body through a series of electrical charge that require a specific bodily environment. This environment involves maintaining levels of specific dissolved minerals including calcium and potassium.
Calcium comes from dairy products as well as some green leafy vegetables. Potassium is found in potatoes and bananas. Making sure that you have these minerals in your diet is important, but what is more important is keeping a balanced diet in general.
4. Stay Hydrated
Another way to maintain your energy levels through nutrition is to get in the habit of staying hydrated.
The chemical processes that turn food into energy require water, so when you don’t have enough water your body has trouble making the most of your food.
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning that it tells your body not to hold onto water. If you start the day with high-caffeine beverage like coffee, just be sure to have some water too. Tea is another great option because it has caffeine, but not as much. If you like to sip something warm throughout the day, try tea – or even hot water with some lemon.
5. Keep Active
Keeping your body moving is another great habit to get into to boost mental energy.
As mentioned above, your brain needs nutrients to work at its best. Getting these nutrients into your body through a healthy diet is only the beginning.
Once in your body, these nutrients are carried to where they need to go by the blood. Blood can still get to your brain while you’re sitting or standing still, but you can get extra blood to your brain by moving around.
When you’re active – even just a little active – your heart pumps faster and stronger so more blood gets too hard to reach places. You don’t have to run or lift weights for this to work, just be sure to get up and walk around every now and then if your job has you sitting in one place for long periods.
Coffee is a fine way to start the day, but if you’re relying on it for your mental energy, you could save yourself some steps by developing some healthier habits.
Getting the right amount of sleep, starting the day with breakfast, staying hydrated, maintaining a balanced diet, and staying active are pretty basic health moves that can make your body healthier but that can also boost your mental energy.