Diane Mushimiyimana

Dropping energy levels is a thing that many people go through on a daily basis, even though they’re in good shape.

The fact is, your energy levels are linked to more than just the state of your health or the hours of sleep you get. It’s a collection of habits and today’s lifestyle leaves us little time and peace to zoom in on these habits and try to handle them.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to enhance your own natural energy levels.

CONTROL STRESS

Mental health experts suggest that when the body is stressed, muscles tense up. Muscle tension is almost a reflex reaction to stress, which is the body’s way of guarding against injury and pain.

Prof Eugene Rutembesa, a clinical psychologist/psychotherapist at University of Rwanda, Butare, says that with sudden onset stress, the muscles tense up all at once, and then release their tension when the stress passes. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.

“Stress requires so much energy that the body puts all other things on hold. You stop repairing your tissue. You stop renewing your cells. There’ll be no energy left for other essential systems — which is why chronic stress leaves you to feel irritable, forgetful, overwhelmed, weary and sleep deprived,” he says.

Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, rhythmic exercise, and yoga have been shown to effectively reduce muscle tension, decrease the incidence of certain stress-related disorders, such as headache, and increase a sense of well-being.

Fitting these activities into your life can help reduce everyday stress, boost your energy and mood, and improve your mental and physical health.

MAKE EXERCISE A ROUTINE

A sedentary lifestyle could be contributing to your lack of energy levels by the day.

Research has shown that regular exercise can decrease fatigue reported in those who usually lead sedentary lifestyles.  According to experts, exercise gives cells more energy to burn and circulates oxygen and causes the body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine, stress hormones that in modest amounts can make you feel energised. Even a brisk walk is a good start.

Dr Eric Mutabazi, a physiotherapist at Oshen King Faisal Hospital in Kigali, says that any exercise or physical activity that gets the heart rate up and the blood flowing, and releases endorphins, is going to raise energy levels. And, for long-term benefits, a good plan would be to schedule physical activity into weekly routine.

“The key is to find what you enjoy, stick with it, and reap the ongoing benefits of a regular workout routine.

“A 30 minute aerobic exercise every day can keep one’s energy levels high. Play a game of basketball, football, or tennis. Go jogging or walking with a friend, or go for a bike ride. Go for a hike. You can also try aerobic classes — a kickboxing or other martial arts class, a spinning class, or any aerobic fitness class offered by a local gym,” he suggests.

WATCH WHAT YOU EAT

Mutabazi adds that healthy eating should accompany these exercises and it ought to be rich in carbohydrates, protein and fibre (peas, beans, vegetables, avocado), vitamins, especially Vitamin D, and meat at a low level to help the body have a strong endurance.

“Ever felt sleepy right after lunch hour? It’s not uncommon to find yourself in this position. Sometimes, fighting weariness could be as simple as keeping track of your diet. What you choose to eat is as important as how much you eat during the day. To avoid feeling exhausted, reduce the amount of carbs and sugar that you consume in your lunch hour. Pileup your plate with fruits, vegetables and proteins instead,” he says.

DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST

Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast have higher levels of energy throughout the day than those who skip it. So before you think of going without, whip up a simple peanut butter sandwich or grab a breakfast bar for something quicker. Your body will thank you for it later.

DRINK MORE WATER

Nutrition experts say that proper hydration is the cornerstone of health. Our bodies need water for just about everything. Dehydration can make you feel less motivated to achieve at any activity.

Anastasie Mukakayumba, a nutrinist operation at Sante Plus, Kicukiro, says that when a person is dehydrated, the fluid loss causes a drop in blood volume, which makes the heart work harder to push oxygen and nutrients through the bloodstream to the brain, skin, and muscles.

“Aim to drink every hour or two so you don’t feel thirsty. Carry a water bottle and sip water throughout the day,” she says.

Mukakayumba adds that people can check their hydration status by monitoring the colour of their urine. Urine should be a very pale yellow in individuals who are properly hydrated. Urine that is dark yellow or tan in colour indicates greater dehydration,” she says.

Experts recommend that individuals drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day, at different intervals which is approximately equivalent to about 2 litres of water.

USE CAFFEINE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

“Caffeine does help increase alertness, so having a cup of coffee can help sharpen your mind. But to get the energising effects of caffeine, you have to use it judiciously. It can cause insomnia, especially when consumed in large amounts, especially in the evening hours, says Mukakayumba.

Also, she says, coffee and tea lovers should keep in mind that drinking coffee and tea can make you dehydrated because the caffeine they contain has a diuretic effect, which means one will need to drink a glass of water or two to hydrate.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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