How to boost your energy

12:0AM, Sep 9th 2009

Think positive, eat healthily and do a little exercise and your energy levels will start to soar, helping you deal with your baby, exhaustion and broken nights.

Think positive, eat healthily and do a little exercise and your energy levels will start to soar, helping you deal with your baby, exhaustion and broken nights.

Think positive

You can think yourself into a more energetic state in minutes because your brain continually sends messages to your body. Try to get rid of negative thoughts - feelings of helplessness, anxiety and anger can all sap energy. Instead, talk yourself better. Look in a mirror, take a few deep breaths and repeat a positive phrase 10 times. For instance, if you're feeling helpless, say: "I am in control of my life" or "I can handle this situation".

You can also practise visualisation and "see" yourself feeling better. Lie or sit somewhere comfortable; imagine walking down a long staircase, counting down from 10 to zero as you go. Then repeat positive statements to yourself, such as the above. When you're ready, mentally return up the staircase, counting from zero to 10 as you go.

Eat healthily

Food is the key to energy, so watch what you're eating:

* Dump sugar and caffeine
Chocolate, coffee or cola will give you a quick energy boost, but it will be quickly followed by a drop in energy, leaving you even more lethargic.

* Go for carbs
To keep energy levels even, eat lots of unrefined complex carbohydrates (starches), such as wholemeal bread, pasta, brown rice and potatoes which release a slow, steady flow of energy.

* Boost your vitamins and minerals
Fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds are all good sources of energising nutrients. Take a multivitamin on a daily basis, too.

* Quick fixes
Some fruits also provide an excellent quick burst of energy: bananas, grapes, raisins and dates.

Give yourself a massage

* Head
To stimulate circulation, gently pound all over your head with loosely clenched fists. Then, with open, relaxed hands, lightly tap your head.

* Arms
With your right hand, keeping your wrist floppy, lightly pluck the flesh at the top of your left arm, working down to the wrist. Repeat on right arm.

* Legs
Slightly raise your left leg and pummel your thigh and buttock with loose fists, keeping wrists flexible, and working down the leg. Repeat on right leg.

* Feet
Using your thumbs, press firmly on the acupressure point on each foot, just below the ball of the foot, in the centre of the sole, for 5-10 seconds. Repeat a few times on each foot. (Don't do this if you are pregnant.)

Fit in some exercise

Exercise encourages your body to produce and store energy, as well as boosting the production of endorphins, the body's 'happy hormones'. At least three times a week, for 20 minutes, try to do some exercise. Walk the baby round the park in the pram, walk to the shops or to a friend's house, do a home post-natal exercise video. Or get your partner or a friend to look after the baby while you go for a swim or to the gym.

Breathe easy

Stress makes your body produce too much adrenaline, which depletes energy resources. Deep breathing and meditation can help you to control this by clearing your mind and releasing muscle tension.

Use a mantra, which is a positive word or phrase repeated over and over. Choose something such as "I am full of energy". Sit somewhere quiet, close your eyes and take three deep breaths, inhaling through your nose and breathing out through your mouth. As you do, imagine every part of your body relaxing. Then, count up to 10, breathing the same way, and on every out-breath, repeat your mantra. Every time your mind wanders, breathe in and start at one again. You may never reach 10, but the idea is to clear your mind of thoughts rather than dwelling on them. When you have finished, stay seated for couple of minutes before opening your eyes, and then stretch.

Sleep well

A good night's sleep is essential for maintaining energy levels. Even if you're not getting a lot of sleep at the moment, maximise what you do get by going to bed when you're tired, rather than crashing out on the sofa. Have a relaxing herbal drink, such as camomile tea and/or an aromatherapy bath before going to bed. Or put a couple of drops of relaxing essential oil, such as lavender, on your pillow.

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