Being an adult is exhausting. From early wake-up calls (via an alarm clock or kids) and long days at the office to family commitments, it’s hard to get everything done.
According to a study by the University of Georgia in 2006, approximately 20 percent of adults worldwide report persistent fatigue. One of the simpler bits of advice is sure to be “get more sleep.”
But sometimes that’s easier said than done, right? We’d rather use those extra hours we could be sleeping to accomplish some sort of task, at the barn or at home. But the truth is, you need to get at least seven hours of sleep every night.
Of course, you need energy in order to exercise, but doing things like taking a walk after work and before doing the chores can help give you a boost to get through cleaning the stalls and a ride or two.
Working out in the morning can help push you through the day, and practicing yoga can help reduce stress, which zaps your energy as well.
Finding yourself exhausted at work? Take a few minutes throughout the day to stretch.
Try this: Stand in a doorway with your feet several inches apart. Reach out to the sides of the doorframe and grab with your fingers. Push your chest forward until you feel a stretch in your torso and back, and hold for 30 seconds. This stretch stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, energizing your body and mind.
Drinking more water is another simple step to boosting energy. Not only is it healthy for you in terms of hydrating muscles, consuming less sugar, et cetera, but did you know that thirst sometimes masquerades as fatigue? Slight dehydration can leave you feeling tired and lethargic.
If you’re feeling tired, try drinking a tall glass of cool water, especially after workouts and when you first wake up. Try avoiding alcohol intake, and don’t believe the hype in energy drinks—they lead to sugar crashes, which can leave you feeling more fatigued in the end.
Colors that surround you at home and at the office can also affect your energy levels.
The color you want to see the most when you’re tired? Red. Seeing red can give you an energy boost—it makes your muscles move faster and work harder, according to research from the University of Rochester. Consider a red pullover for barn chores, red flowers planted around the barn, or a red wall in your workout room.
What and when you eat has a big impact on your energy levels. Studies show that eating breakfast puts you in a better mood and gives you more energy throughout the day. Lunch gives you a jolt to continue through the workday, and an early dinner helps you push through to finish your tasks.
While it’s very tempting to hit the candy bowl when you’re tired, this is actually counterproductive. You’ll get a spike in blood sugar for that initial boost of energy, but the rapid drop afterward will wipe you out. Adding more whole grains will help sustain your energy through the day.
Important vitamins and minerals to add to your daily intake include magnesium (300 mg for women, 350 mg for men), vitamin B, fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, and cashews can add magnesium to your daily diet. Including fish such as salmon can increase the omega-3 fatty acids for better mood and brain function. Adding chia seeds to simple recipes provides a powerful combination of B vitamins, fiber and protein.
Kale is also a great add-on for soups, whole wheat pasta and as a salad. A cup of kale offers 14 percent of your daily calcium, more than 650 percent of your daily vitamin A and more than 900 percent of your daily vitamin K. It also offers more iron per ounce than beef. And it’s easy to add chopped in soups, salads, pasta and your smoothies.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!