Chill out in the shower
Though it's tempting to relax under a stream of hot water, try alternating the temperature between three minutes of warm and one minute of cool. It'll make your blood vessels contract, increasing blood flow throughout your body, which energizes your muscles and helps you feel more awake. Lather up with a citrus-scented soap and you'll get an aromatherapeutic benefit as well: The smell is said to produce brain waves of alertness and relaxation.
Turn up the tunes
Resist the urge to watch the news while you get dressed, and put a CD into your stereo instead. Studies show that music helps lift your spirits by easing mental tension and stimulating positive thinking. In fact, one study from McGill University, in Montreal, found that when people listen to music, it has a similar effect on the brain as food and sex do.
Top your toast with protein
Instead of popping a couple of your kids' frozen waffles in the toaster, go for peanut butter and honey on whole-wheat toast, nonfat yogurt mixed with a cup of strawberries or blueberries, or a half cup of oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg. "A mix of protein and carbs will keep energy higher for a longer period of time because it takes longer to digest than an all-carb breakfast," says David Edelberg, M.D., author of The Triple Whammy Cure.
Color your day
What you wear can do wonders for your energy level, and studies show that red has a particularly positive effect on our mood and alertness. "Scientists have found that looking at something red increases our circulation and energy levels," says Kristen Burris, founder and medical director of the American Acupuncture Center, in Poway, California. So if you're feeling especially sluggish, put on a red shirt or some red lipstick. It's worth a try!
Have a peppermint pick-me-up
To keep your head up during the inevitable mid-morning slump, pop a peppermint: Its scent decreases fatigue by 25 percent, according to a recent study by researchers at Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia.
Lambeth Hochwald is a mom of a 2-year-old and an adjunct journalism professor at New York University.
Scratch your head
An allover head scratch soothes and stimulates the scalp, which boosts blood flow to your brain. Start by dancing your fingertips all over your skull. Then run your fingers through your hair from your forehead and temple to the base of your skull, suggests Sondra Kornblatt, coauthor of 365 Energy Boosters.
Brush your teeth -- and your tongue
Not only will it help ward off cavities, but it'll wake up all the taste buds and acupressure meridians on your tongue, says Kornblatt.
Take a (short) hike
Good news for busy moms: Studies show that you don't have to hit the gym for an hour to rev up your energy and mood -- short bursts of exercise work, too. "When you're active -- even for just ten minutes -- you boost your metabolism for up to two hours afterward," says Robert Thayer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at California State University, in Long Beach. (Plus, if you take three 10-minute brisk walks, you'll have racked up all the exercise you need for the day!)
Pour yourself a cold glass of water
Feel like you could use a nap? You may just be dehydrated. Because water trans-ports oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and antibodies throughout the body -- and also helps eliminate toxins and waste -- not drinking enough can leave you fatigued. And drinking cold water shocks your body into wake-up mode by increasing blood flow, just like it does when you're in the shower. If water is too bland for your taste, toss in some orange slices for extra flavor.
Pick out a plant
If you don't have any greens in your home or office, buy an inexpensive potted plant. Not only are they pretty, but plants also pack a high-energy punch because they take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. And the more oxygen in the room, the more you'll breathe in and send to all of your limbs.
Skip the Starbucks run
Caffeine may perk you up temporarily, but it can cause restlessness, agitation, and sleep disturbances once the buzz fades. So ditch the latte and opt for a handful of dried apricots, some berries, or an apple. Fruit provides a range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals that increase the body's energy levels.
Stretch it out
"When we're under stress, our muscles tighten up and we start to feel aches and pains, and that slows us down," says Dr. Edelberg. A simple stretch can loosen tense muscles, decreasing pain and helping us feel more alert. Here's one you can do while sitting in a chair:
- Place your left foot flat on the floor and your right ankle on your left thigh, just above the knee.
- Keeping abs tight, bend forward, and feel a stretch throughout the entire right hip and buttock.
- Hold for 15 seconds while breathing deeply (in through your nose, out through your mouth).
- Repeat with the other leg.
Take a tickle break
Sure, dinner's in the oven and you're trying to keep your household happy until it's time to eat. But you can make good use of the time by laughing with your cutie. Research shows that it raises your heart rate and increases blood flow, giving you the same energizing effect as exercise (and putting you in a better mood than any aerobics class would!).
Curb your urge for a cocktail
After your child's in bed, you may reach for a glass of wine to unwind. Instead, opt for a wine spritzer. While alcohol initially reduces tension and increases energy, it's a depressant -- and could prompt a deep energy dip hours later, says Thayer. A spritzer gives you the taste, with only half the alcohol.
Shrug your shoulders
Rid your body of leftover tension from the day (which most of us hold in our neck and upper back). Sit tall and exhale all the air from your lungs. Then take a slow inhale as you pull your shoulders up to your ears, while relaxing your neck and jaw. Hold for a count of two, then drop your shoulders and exhale with a sigh. It may help you sleep more soundly -- at least until your baby starts crying!