A handful of almonds, pistachios, or walnuts can reenergize you postworkout. All tree nuts contain arginine, which stimulates blood flow, allowing nutrients to move more quickly to your muscles, says David Heber, MD, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition in Los Angeles. Plus, according to studies, the act of repetitive chewing, such as crunching on nuts, enhances serotonin production, which can improve your mood.
Rev Up Your Playlist
The more motivational your tunes, the quicker you move and the more calories you burn. In fact, research shows that music tempo can increase your endurance by 15 percent.
Do It Bright
Yellow has been called the color of optimism and joy. Consider a buttery hue for your walls or a rug or scatter a few pillows in a sunny shade on your couch.
Bring the Outdoors In
Nothing energizes like nature. Hang a large wall mirror opposite a window and you’ll expand your view of sky, grass, and trees. “These visual cues stimulate you,” says Vern Yip, an interior designer and a judge on HGTV Design Star.
Top It Off
Sprinkle these spices on your food for a lift that lingers: Cinnamon can stabilize your blood sugar, leading to sustained energy; cumin may raise iron levels; and coriander can help calm by elevating levels of the nutrient magnesium, which gets depleted in times of stress.
Stretch Your Limits
Overwhelmed at work? Try this move from trainer Nicki Anderson, owner of Reality Fitness in Naperville, Illinois, to relieve tension in your spine and neck.
- Get on your hands and knees, exhale and slowly inhale for six counts as you round your spine; hold for four to six counts.
- Exhale slowly as you bring your spine to its original straight position.
Capture Your Winning Moments
And keep them where you can see them, like on the fridge or your desk. A snapshot featuring you with a big smile reaching the finish line or hiking a tough mountain trail will improve your mood and trigger goal-oriented thinking, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
Give, Even Just a Little
Five dollars truly can buy you happiness. People told to spend that amount on a friend or as a charity donation reported feeling better at the end of the day than those told to use the money for themselves, a study in the journal Science found.
Create a Fitness Inspiration Board
Clip out pictures and words that inspire you (your favorite athlete, a yoga chant, you on a gorgeous running trail), make a collage out of them, and hang it where you can see it, suggests Patricia Isis, PhD, a board-certified art therapist in Miami. Every time you lay eyes on it, you’ll feel good.
To beat an afternoon slump, b pour yourself a rejuvenating cup of green or black tea instead. The caffeine in the brew will give you a boost and the amino acid L-theanine will enhance your concentration, according to a study in The Journal of Nutrition. To maximize the benefits, Mark Ukra, owner of Dr. Tea in West Hollywood, California, suggests steeping the leaves for two minutes.
Lend an Ear
For a quick hit of energy, vigorously massage from your lobes to the tops of your ears with your index fingers and thumbs for about 30 seconds. “In Eastern medicine, the ear is a microsystem of the body,” explains Stephen Brewer, MD, medical director of Canyon Ranch Health Resorts in Tucson, Arizona, and a certified acupuncturist. “Massaging certain parts of the ear can affect different areas of the body and may increase your energy.”
Lose the Blues
Here’s some slim-down motivation: A recent study in the journal Obesity found that depressed patients on a weight-loss program not only succeeded in ditching around 8 percent of their weight but also reported significant improvement in their moods. The psychological lift may be due in part to an increase in participants’ self-esteem and body confidence.
Breathe Energy into Your Day
“Breath of fire,” a breathing technique that yogis have used for thousands of years, is said to boost the function of the pituitary gland, which nourishes the blood. Simply inhale and exhale rapidly through the nose, each breath equal in length to the one before. After two to three minutes, you’ll feel refreshed, renewed — and ready to tackle the next item on your to-do list.
Laugh a Lot
Who knew that your dad’s dorky jokes served a health purpose? Studies suggest that laughter can reduce blood pressure, decrease stress hormones, and increase endorphins. What’s more, there seems to be no difference between real and forced laughter. “I tell clients to giggle when they’re sitting in traffic,” says Ronel Corbin of ESPA International, who runs a laughter therapy program at the One&Only Palmilla resort in Mexico. “It really will make you feel better.”
See the Light
The quickest get-happy solution: sunshine. Stepping out to enjoy it not only increases levels of vitamin D, which researchers believe helps fight depression, but also activates special receptors in your eyes that regulate your body clock and mood. Just be sure to put on SPF if you’ll be outside for more than a few minutes.