I’m a mom to 3-year-old twin boys, so I always feel like I’m running on empty. As so many well-meaning strangers like to point out, yes, I have my hands full, yes, I must be busy, and no, I don’t know how I do it. Once upon a time, my kids used to nap, and when they did I’d often lie down for twenty minutes to catch some zzz’s of my own. Unfortunately, though, nap time is now a distant memory, and for the last several months I’ve found myself dragging more than ever. And I’m usually asleep on the couch by 9PM.
In the last year, I’ve discovered that exercise is like the ultimate energy-booster for me. I know, it seems like it would just wear me down even more, but on the days that I work out, I feel way more fueled up and motivated, and I’m in a much better mood until bedtime. It’s actually one of the main reasons I’m actually able to stick to a fitness plan—it’s the only way to get through the day!
So, with that in mind, I did some research to find more ways for moms like us to recharge, even while our kids are running us ragged. These methods are easy and actually backed by science, so they’re totally worth giving a shot if you need to boost your energy during the day…
1. Eat breakfast. They say it’s the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. According to studies, eating breakfast not only kickstarts your metabolism, but it can also literally wake you up and make you more alert. Of course, it’s always important to choose your food wisely, and in the morning carbs are a must. A high-fiber, high-carb breakfast like steel-cut oatmeal, a slice of whole-grain bread with peanut butter, or even a low-sugar cereal bar will keep you fueled throughout the AM.
2. Sniff some citrus. If you’re like most moms, getting your kids out the door in the morning can be the most frustrating time of the day. You’re sapped before you’ve even finished your coffee! Well, according to research, the scent of oranges can actually reduce anxiety and stress. So reach for a glass of OJ first thing, or pour a little bit into your water bottle, and breathe in the soothing smells.
3. Wear red. Maybe a crimson sweater won’t go great with your yoga pants, but even a red bracelet or scarf can give you an energy burst. Apparently, just the sight of the bright hue has been proven to put some pep in your step.
4. Sing along to Taylor Swift. Come on, you know you love her, and according to studies, singing your little heart out can stimulate your brain, boost energy, and ease stress, almost as much as a workout. So tell the kids you’ve had enough of “Let It Go,” and put on your own performance during the drive to school.
5. Do some stretching. You probably already know that yoga is relaxing, but the act of stretching your muscles actually stimulates the nervous system and gets you energized. No need to commit to an entire yoga session—just reaching your arms into the air or touching your toes will get the blood flowing.
6. Have a good laugh. Let’s hear it for silly viral videos! Laughter is the best medicine—a good chuckle boosts your heart rate and blood pressure, revving up your energy. So go ahead and scour YouTube for some funny entertainment.
7. Chew gum. Your mother may tell you it’s not ladylike, but popping a piece of peppermint gum improves your mood, makes you more alert, and gives you a burst of motivation.
8. Drink a glass of water. You’ve heard it before, but water is really a miracle elixir. When you’re feeling tired, it’s often just because you’re dehydrated, so be sure to always carry a big bottle with you to sip from all day long.
9. Turn up the heat. When your body temperature drops, your brain thinks it’s sleepy time, which may be why you suddenly feel like you could use a nap. Stay warm by turning up the thermostat in your house or just adding extra cozy layers to stave off the energy-sapping cold.
10. Have a healthy snack. When the mid-afternoon drag starts, your first instinct might be to reach for coffee or a sugar fix. But a snack that includes protein and complex carbohydrates will give you way more of a sustained boost. Have some hummus with a few whole grain crackers, an apple with peanut butter, or even a low-sugar protein bar.
11. Meditate for a few minutes. You know that when you’re about to lose your mind, a few deep breaths can take you back to a Zen state. Meditation has a number of health benefits, and among them is the ability to fight stress-related exhaustion. So if you get a moment to yourself, or your kids are playing quietly, close your eyes and let your mind go.
12. Plan a playdate. When you think about spending a couple of hours with multiple screaming kids, it doesn’t sound particularly energizing. But according to research, socializing with others gives you a recharge. If you can sneak away for grown-up lunch with a friend, that’s preferable, but if not, get together with other moms and their kids.
13. Eat your omega-3s. The benefits of these fatty acids—found in foods like salmon, walnuts, and spinach—are numerous. In addition to aiding in your overall health, though, they also improve your mood and memory, and can give you an essential refresh around mealtime.
14. Play games on your phone. When you’re about to crash, all you really want to do is veg out on your couch with reality TV. According to research, though, engaging your brain is actually a great way to get energized. While your kids are watching a show or doing homework, you can read some interesting articles on your iPad or even play a game like Solitaire, Candy Crush, or Pet Rescue Saga.
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