Adopt these simple lifestyle hacks and you’ll be fi ring on all cylinders – all day, every day
6.30 am BE PREDICTABLE
The most effective way to stamp out sluggishness is also the simplest – get up at the same time every day. While this may be bad news for lovers of weekend lie-in, experts agree that if you can be consistent with wake-up times seven days a week, you’ll rise feeling more rested. Sleeping in late messes with your circadian rhythm – the biological process that drives your sleep-wake cycle. Instead, boost your ability to bounce out of bed by opening the curtains and getting natural light as soon as you can. This will help your body know it’s time to wake up. If you need same extra shut-eye, catch up by getting to bed earlier.
7 am MOVE YOUR BODY
There are some perks to adopting a morning exercise habit. Research shows morning workouts can raise cortisol, boosting focus, mental clarity and energy levels for hours afterwards. It will also lift your mood, even if you’re reluctant to get moving. People who dreaded walking and expected it to make them feel worse, still ended up feeling substantially better after a stroll, according to research published in the journal Emotion. Even better, 10 minutes is all it takes to lift your mood, according to a recent study from Shenzhen University in China.
Early exercising also takes advantage of testosterone levels being at their peak. The more testosterone in your body while working out, the more efficient it will be at building muscle. A morning sweat session can also have a knock-on effect on the rest of your day, making you more active generally and less likely to experience food cravings, according to research at Brigham Young University in the US.
8 am BE BRILLIANT AT BREAKFAST
Make the most of your post-workout metabolism by eating a nutritious breakfast to restore glucose levels and give your brain fuel to focus. “Aim for around 400 calories for breakfast, which is about 20 per cent of daily energy requirements,” advises nutrition scientist Emily Robinson. “Include higher-fibre and wholegrain starchy carbohydrates such as porridge oats.”
Also, try to eat a fruit or veg, and a source of protein such as nuts, eggs or beans to help keep you going through the morning, Avoid sugary cereals and processed foods, as these will make you feel sluggish. Need some ideas? Try oats with banana, almonds and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Or grainy toast with mashed avocado, or peanut butter and a banana.
10.30 am TIME YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
If you time your coffee break to work with your body’s cortisol levels, you’ll get a bigger energy boost, according to neuroscientists at Harvard. Aim to have your coffee or tea between 9.30 am and 11.30 am when your levels of cortisol – the hormone that helps regulate metabolism – are at their highest.
If caffeine no longer gives you that energy jolt, you may be building up a tolerance, so swap your coffee for a hike up and down the stairs. Ten minutes of stair climbing will make you feel more energetic than a coffee break, according to research from the University of Georgia.
1 pm GET OUTSIDE
You’re halfway through your day. Now’s the time to reclaim your lunch break and go outdoors. Even the smallest nugget of nature can unleash serious benefits on those who make time for it.
Being in a green space has been shown to lower stress levels, and boost memory and concentration. In a study at the University of Michigan, students performed better in memory and attention tests after a walk in a park, compared to those who strolled in city streets.
Eating “al desko” can be convenient but munching away in front of a screen leads to increased calorie consumption, and thus, weight gain, The New York Times reported. So do your body and your mental health a favour by taking a break.
3 pm BRAVE THE COLD
Although much of the research has centred on endorphin-releasing icy blasts in the shower, you can get a mini energy jolt by splashing cold water on your wrists or face, where you have a high concentration of nerve endings.
While you’re at it, top up your water bottle. Staying hydrated is key to feeling energised and not drinking enough during the day may even disrupt sleep. New research suggests those who get six hours of less a night could be dehydrated. Aim for 1 to 2 litres a day.
5 pm FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE FINISHED
Fretting over unfinished tasks or how much you still have to do is a major energy drainer, so take five minutes at the end of the working day to flip that focus and appreciate what you have achieved. “The feeling of having too many tabs open in your brain is a sure-fire way to exhaustion,” says author and nutritional biochemist Dr Libby Weaver. Instead, notice what went well today and what you did achieve, however small. Then, schedule tasks into your dairy for specific times, rather than adding to a vague to-do list. This way, you signal to your brain that it will be dealt with, and you free up some headspace.
6 pm PLUG INTO YOUR PLAYLIST
Fading fast? Plug into a high-energy playlist. Research suggests that music has a direct effect on your body by stimulating the automatic nervous system, which controls breathing, heartbeat and digestive processes. It can also light up the feel-good networks in your brain. “We know that music activates reward and pleasure networks in the brain, including dopamine levels, which impact on emotion and short-term mood,” explains David Greenberg, a psychologist at Cambridge University.
7 pm BE SOCIAL YET SPONTANEOUS
Skip the sofa and get socialising. Go for a drink after work or walk with a friend, join a club, or volunteer. Being social helps you bounce off the energy of others. Maximise your enjoyment by keeping it somewhat spontaneous.
Why? Because scheduling a start and end time puts limits on your enjoyment, according to research from Ohio State University. So, allow a little wiggle room. “The key to enjoying your leisure activities is to live in the moment as much as possible,” explains study author Selin Malkoc. “Be spontaneous and don’t always live by the clock.”
10 pm MAKE TIME TO MEDITATE
Before bed, opt for a spot of meditation or breathwork, as both can calm your mind and help you drift off to sleep. Just 25 minutes of yoga or meditation is enough to see these benefits, according to research from the University of Waterloo in Canada.
By focusing your brain’s conscious processing power on the breath, your mind blocks out the noise of non-essential thoughts. A racing mind is one of the key reasons people cite for not being able to sleep. The simplest way to start is to tune in to your breathing.
Lie on your bed and place your hand on your abdomen. Take a big breath and feel your hand rise. Exhale and feel it lower as you relax, expelling the air completely. Do 20 repetitions. Chances are you’ll nod off before you know it!