You might think massage is just a quick ticket to blissful relaxation, but it can have energizing effects as well. Katie Phill, massage trainer at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, uses a sports-style massage, in which compressions and stretches are administered in a fast-paced sequence, for an immediate boost. “Any time quicker movements are used, the nervous system is stimulated rather than sedated,” she says. Massage also helps improve circulation in the long term, a function that improves overall energy levels. “As a result of this increase [in circulation], not only do our cells receive more oxygen and nutrients, but the body is encouraged to rid its cells of toxins and other waste that slow our systems down.,” says Phill.
No surprise here: Start with a healthy diet. “Foods that are easy to digest and supply a lot of nutrients give you energy. Foods that are high in dense protein and fat take energy to digest,” says celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder. Snyder recommends snacking on energy-boosting foods like bell peppers, which have vitamins A and C, and blueberries, which will also help satisfy a sweet tooth. She also suggests smoothies, like her signature Glowing Green Smoothie. “Because it’s blended, it digests easily and doesn’t take a lot of work to break down.”
To make a larger change to your diet, try reducing the amount of meat you’re eating to two to three times per week. “Meat is much harder to digest, and digestion takes up lots of energy, especially for complex proteins like animal products,” Snyder says.
At some point, you’ve probably heard that various colors impact your ability to focus or relax. But not all colors affect people in the same way, according to David Hilbert, PhD, a professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago who studies color. Instead of focusing on broad generalizations like “green represents energy and nature” and “blue represents knowledge,” Hilbert recommends surrounding yourself with colors that hold positive personal connotations. “We develop positive and negative associations with different colors based on our experience,” Hilbert says. For example, some research shows that Stanford students have more positive associations with cardinal red than Berkeley students.
Likewise, one of our favorite designers, Jonathan Adler, says that colors that you love will improve your mood and energy—no matter their traditional associations. “I believe color is the most easily accessible antidepressant in the world, so I exhort people to use it abundantly” he says.
If you’ve ever cried your eyes out listening to Adele’s “Someone Like You,” you know what a powerful effect music can have on your mood. That’s not just the lyrics causing your glasses to fog up. A report in the Journal of Marketing analyzed several experiments to conclude that music’s tempo, pitch, and texture (such as volume and crescendo) all influence a listener’s mood. Faster rhythms, measured in beats per minute, are more energizing, while songs in higher keys with major chords, as opposed to minor, express “more animated and positive feelings.” Check out recent Birchbox Crush Rita Ora for songs that will make you get up and dance.
We’ve extolled the power of aromatherapy before to help with everything from falling asleep to indigestion. The quickest way to experience the benefits of energizing scents (think mint, citrus, or eucalyptus) is to place them on pulse points like your wrists and neck and breathe deeply. Lately we’re loving Harvey Prince’s new fragrance, Skinny Chic, for a mid-day boost of energy. Notes of marine mint, bergamot, green apple, and grapefruit send our bodies a signal that it’s time for that second wind.