"Pandemic Exhaustion" Is Real—Here's How to Boost Your Energy

Better than your morning coffee.

Woman sitting with her eyes closed

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It’s important to acknowledge simply existing through a global pandemic has been really tiresome. That’s a given. If you found yourself with boundless energy, you are a rare superhero—and you should probably share your secrets with everyone around you. Now that we’re starting to return to normal life, our energy hasn’t caught up with our mental and emotional desire to do and see more. I’ve heard more complaints of low energy than ever before, and because of this, I've curated an arsenal of resources to help give us all a boost. If you’re among the masses looking for a pick-me-up beyond your morning coffee, read on to see the plentiful options you have.

Support Your Sleep

There is no way to have a better day without restful sleep. Your best chance of for an energized morning stems from your body's ability to do its necessary reparative work at night. 

  • Supplements: If sleep is a challenge currently, you can go one of two routes without involving prescription drugs. The first is natural sleep aids, of which there are countless choices. From CBD to California poppy to 5-HTP, there are supplement options for every budget. Magnesium is my personal favorite—in addition to feeling cozy and nice, it promotes exercise recovery and supports regularity. I also like a TCM combo called An Shui Wan, which an acupuncturist told me translates to "good sleep worry-free powder." 
  • Sounds: The second simple sleep aid is to listen to something to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. You can play pink noise through a noise machine or phone app, listen to a free sleep meditation on YouTube, or be lulled to sleep with a guided story on a sleep app like Wave.
  • Time: For sleep duration, the go-to eight-hour standard is proven to be best. If you don’t feel your schedule allows that, get as close to that goal as possible. 

Create More Cellular Energy

If you’re sleeping enough and still tired, you can try to help your body create more energy on a cellular level. Metabolism cofactors NAD+ and NADH have been shown to do exactly that. Both are available as supplements meant to be taken in the morning, and you don’t feel them at all. The only noticeable effect—usually in the late afternoon, when many of us feel like winding down—you’re still able to continue your day. It also helps maintain healthy DNA and can potentially slow aging, so there’s a lot to be gained from this one.

If cost isn’t a concern, Elysium Basis is a great choice. If you're looking for a budget-friendly option, NADH costs a fraction of the price and is available as a chewable. I notice the benefits of NADH more than NAD+, so the fact that it’s less expensive is a bonus. 

Fuel Your Brain

Though prescription sleep aids get a lot of airtime, there are many brain-boosting natural substances. Adaptogens like red asparagus root, reishi mushrooms, and maca all can elevate your mood along with your thinking power. L-theanine, when taken along with caffeine, is proven to increase cognitive performance and alertness.

One study notes, "The combination of moderate levels of L-theanine and caffeine significantly improved accuracy during task switching and self-reported alertness and reduced self-reported tiredness," at a dosage of 97 milligrams of L-theanine and 40 milligrams caffeine. That’s the equivalent L-theanine of a few cups of green tea, with the caffeine content of one. 

Sip on Healthy Energy Drinks

Adaptogen and supplement-infused energy beverages are plentiful these days, and they have solid credibility. For one thing, the quality ones don’t contain caffeine. That’s notable because, as much as coffee in the morning can be helpful for your day, ingesting it later can ruin your night, bringing you full circle back to exhaustion.

Brands like Free Rain contain simple, whole-food ingredients like eleuthero, also known as Siberian Ginseng, which has been shown to increase endurance, improve cardiovascular function, and aid metabolism. Their beverages are also made with tart cherry juice, also proven to increase endurance. With the only other ingredients of their energy drink being sparkling water, lime juice, hibiscus, and cocoa, this new energy beverage style is well worth sipping on. 

Eat Balanced

It’s a given a healthy diet is more energizing than one composed mostly of processed foods, but some foods do more for you than others in the energy department. Nutrients like omega 3, B vitamins, lutein, and iron play a vital role in our well-being and energy levels. If you’re in a phase where eating vegetables is tough, or you aren’t motivated to cook, there are many ways to ensure you're ingesting essential nutrients, from juice shots to greens powders to plain old multivitamins. This isn’t a permanent fix, but in a culture where we don’t always tend to eat as nature intended, it’s a good duct tape to get you through difficult times.   

Manage Stress

You’ll notice I didn’t say "reduce stress," as that seems to be a somewhat impossible task for most of humanity these days. Instead, it’s essential to realize life can be stressful, and stress sucks up our energy. Dedicating time to decompress can’t prevent stress from happening, but it can make it less of an energy drain on your daily life. Whether you take a calming bath nightly, have a living room dance party once a week, or hit the yoga mat every few mornings, every effort you make to regulate stress in your life will be rewarded. And in turn, you might find your energy slowly returning.

The Bottom Line

You can try just one of these suggestions, or a few at once. They’re all safe for the average person, and most are inexpensive or free. Here’s to the better days to come—may we be energized enough to enjoy them!

Note: Exhaustion, especially if occurring long-term, can be a symptom of a more significant health problem. The suggestions given here are offered with the presumption that your fatigue is due to everyday life and isn’t caused by a major health problem. If you are receiving treatment for a health issue, consult with your practitioner before trying any new products, regimes, or supplements. 

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