Certain times of the school year can be very stressful and can mean that you are overworked. Being overworked can result in you feeling run-down and endlessly exhausted and can make it a struggle just to get through the day. If you start to feel like this, it's time to re-charge your batteries!
This energy plan will provide you with some sure ways of putting back the fizz back into your life, through food, exercise and lifestyle changes.
Foods giving high energy
The energy we need to live is provided to us by food. Food = Fuel. The best kind of fuel that we can give to our bodies is nourishing foods, which are broken down gradually, slowly releasing their sugar content into the blood stream. For example, fruit and complex carbohydrates - including vegetables, brown rice and brown bread.
Foods giving low energy
The worst kind of fuel we can give to our bodies is foods that upset the energy balance by causing blood sugar levels to fluctuate wildly. They are absorbed very quickly, providing an energy high, followed by an energy low. These foods are the refined or simple carbohydrates - including white bread, white sugar, most biscuits, chocolate and cakes.
Caffeine in coffee, tea and coke also has this effect on our bodies. The more of these rich drinks you consume, the more highs and lows you experience. You could call it an addiction!
This is a great way to relieve tension as it releases "feel good" endorphins, which make you feel happier. Team sport is a fun way to exercise, provided that there is not a high level of competition, pressure to perform or fear of failure. Dancing is another great way to get exercise whist exercising and bands, such as RSVP Bhangra, do dance fitness workshops, so you can have fun dancing and exercise at the same time.
If you think that you've fallen into the trap of drinking too much caffeine or eating too much sugar, try to find a replacement. Alternatively, you could simply reduce the amount of junk you eat and drink. For example, reduce the strength of your ordinary tea by letting the tea-bag brew for less time. Replace your daily cake, chips or chocolate bar with sugar-free cereal bars, fresh or dried fruit or low-fat yoghurts.
Beware! You may think you're being healthy by changing your can of Dr Pepper to a fruit drink, or swapping your chocolate bar with a flap jack, but both of these replacements probably contain extremely high sugar levels. Even ketchup and salad cream are sugary! Keep an eye out for products that are sugar-free.
Breakfast is important
You've got no excuse. There's always time to exercise and eat a proper breakfast.
Just set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier and get some grub.
Similarly, dedicate half an hour to an hour a day a few times a week to exercising.
I know you've been told a million and one times, but the first step to getting that energy back in your life is breakfast. Make sure it's packed full of complex carbohydrates and substantial enough to fill you up, as this will hopefully stop you snacking throughout the day. S-cool breakfast ideas....
- Boiled egg and wholemeal toast: Warm up a pan of salted water on the hob (salt makes it boil quicker!) Put an egg or two in the water. Boil the egg for 3 - 4 minutes.
- Low-sugar muesli: Try to steer away from full-fat milk if you can. Muesli is good with fruit on top (especially banana!) Another tasty topping is extra mixed nuts and raisins - this also gives you a lot more protein
- Low-fat yoghurt and fresh fruit: Natural yoghurt is good in the morning. It provides your gut with healthy bacteria, helping to improve digestion and bowel function. When these two functions are working well, you'll naturally feel more energetic. You could try mixing muesli, or chopped banana for added flavour and energy. Alternatively, put a dollop of natural yoghurt on top of a fruit salad.
- Branflakes: Make them more exciting by adding fruit, nuts and/or yoghurt. Bran is one of the main sources of fibre.
- Toast: A couple of pieces of wholemeal toast with a nice spread is a quick and substantial breakfast for practically anyone!
- Porridge: Make it with semi-skimmed milk. This is especially good in the winter as it warms you up from the inside.
- Scrambled egg on toast:You could do this in 5 minutes - honestly! Crack a couple of eggs into a jug/china bowl. Add a splash of milk and a small nub of butter (or spread) and some salt and pepper if you want. Mix well. Put in the microwave on a medium/low heat until it is light and fluffy. After every 30 seconds, take it out and stir it with a fork - this will stop it lumping together. Be careful! Don't put metal in the microwave because it is very dangerous.
- Pink grapefruit: Cut it in half and if you can't bear to eat it without sugar, sprinkle a small amount of brown sugar over it. Pink grapefruit contains 25 times more beta carotene (an energy-enhancing antioxidant) than the pale version.
Good mood = good energy levels
There are loads of ways to get yourself in a good mood…
- Spend at least an hour a day outside. Try walking to school if you can. Getting a daily dose of sunlight can be a great way of getting you in a good mood.
- Be colourful! Adding colour to your look via things like your clothes and make-up does wonders for lifting your spirit. Be daring and give it a go.
- Wear something green. This is supposed to have a positive effect on your mood - apparently!
- Avoid conflict. Does it really matter who forgot to lock the backdoor before you went to bed? Similarly, battling to have the last word is irritating and means that you have to go to bed late. Draw a line and change the subject.
Stop that after school slump
Do you get in from school and just feel completely drained?
There could be many reasons for this…
- Drink lots of water. Dehydration is one of the causes of feeling tired and low in motivation. Try to drink at least 8 glasses a day.
- Eat a lunch that contains a lot of protein. This nutrient primes the brain to produce dopamine, which keeps you alert. Good sources of protein are cheese, fish and chicken.
- Eat a low-fat lunch. Fats take a long time to digest, diverting blood away from your brain and muscles, which can leave you feeling sluggish for up to 6 hours!
If you cut back on junk food and do some exercise after school, just for half an hour a day, you'll feel fitter and livelier within days.
There's loads of things you could do - walk the dog, play with your younger brother or sister, or do some floor exercises in front of the TV.
Exercise motivates your brain by pumping oxygenated blood around your body, so you might see some improvements in your schoolwork as well as your fitness and appearance!
Last but not least, sleep is essential in keeping your energy levels topped up. Aim to get at least 7 hours a night. Give yourself a wind-down period before you try to get to sleep. If you go to bed straight after you've had a big homework or revision session, your brain will still be working hard and this will take you longer to doze off (which is very aggravating!) Spend at least half an hour doing something relaxing that you enjoy, for example, watching TV, reading a magazine or chatting on the phone for a bit before turning out the lights.