If you've ever skimped on sleep, pushed yourself too hard during a midday workout, or spent the day glued to a computer screen, you've surely encountered the infamous energy crash. And while reaching for an energy drink or scrounging for sugar may seem like a good idea, the effects of your quick fix may be short-lived. Here's your all-day guide to fight fatigue.
In the morning
Jump-start your metabolism. Breakfast kicks off your day and makes you feel better. Include a mix of protein and quality carbohydrates into your meal, says Denise Austin, author of Get Energy! Empower Your Body, Love Your Life.
Shower sans steam. Your body responds quickly to a cold stimulus, so a cool shower can help perk you up, says dietitian Erin Palinski.
Crank some tunes. Turn on your favorite high-tempo music to wake up your mind and your body, suggests Jim Karas, author of The 7 Day Energy Surge.
Let in the light. In the morning, throw open the drapes and turn on all the lights to enhance your wake-sleep cycle, says Karas.
Sit up straight. Improve your posture, says Austin. This will help open up your chest, allowing you to fill your lungs with more oxygen for your body to deliver to your muscles and your brain, which consumes 20 percent of the body's oxygen.
At your desk
Allow yourself mini breaks. Give yourself five-minute breaks throughout the day to stand up and stretch, Austin suggests. Circulation, blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain are poor when we're sitting down, which fatigues the body and decreases mental alertness.
Eat regular meals. Don't forget to break for lunch. Eat at regular intervals to keep your blood sugar balanced and energy levels high, says Palinski.
On your lunch hour
Soak up some sun. Get outside for at least 15 minutes, says Austin. You'll get vitamin D, which improves mood and helps strengthen bones.
Grab a slice of whole-grain bread. Carbohydrates will help raise blood sugar slightly, providing an energy boost along with an increase of the mood-lifting chemical serotonin in the brain, says Palinski.
Pick a protein. Protein keeps your blood sugar stable for a longer period of time. Round out meals and snacks with foods like eggs, cheese, yogurt and lean meats, and aim to eat something every 3 to 4 hours, suggests dietitian Marjorie Nolan, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association.
Through the afternoon
Gulp a glass of water. Drink 10 to 12 ounces of cold water as fast as you can, says Nolan, noting that dehydration contributes to fatigue. The temperature drop will shock you awake and the hydration benefit will keep you feeling perky.
Snack on nuts. Eat a magnesium-rich snack like nuts for a quick boost in energy, suggest Palinski.
Take a walk. A brisk walk gets your blood flowing and improves circulation and mental function, says Palinski.
During the evening
Exercise to energize. Regular physical activity increases energy and fights fatigue by raising levels of mood-boosting serotonin as well as norepinephrine and dopamine, brain chemicals that give you pep, according to University of Georgia researchers who analyzed 70 studies on the subject. But evening exercise can disturb your sleep, so choose your workout wisely.
Unwind with music. Karas suggests starting and ending the day with music, but picking something soothing for the p.m. hours.