Herbfacts
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How to boost your energy and motivation as lockdown eases

Lockdown has left many of us feeling low in mood and lacking in energy, which can make getting back into the normal routine of work that much harder.

Editor Jane Garton discovers some natural ways to reboot your get-up-and-go.

As lockdown eases and many of us go back to work there are reports that despite having weeks away from our normal busy lives, many feel more tired than ever as well as low in motivation.

Living in a constant state of stress, a break in normal routine and less exercise can all contribute to us not feeling as energised as we would like. Getting up later, unhealthy snacking and spending more time indoors are all possible reasons for this lack of motivation and inertia.

If this sounds familiar here are some natural herbs to help sharpen up that grey matter.

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

Close up of the rhodiola plant

Traditionally rhodiola has been used throughout Eastern Europe and Asia for stimulating the nervous system. It can help improve your mood, enhance work performance and eliminate fatigue. And for the past few years it has been making a name for itself in the West.

It is thought to have anti-fatigue, anti-stress, antioxidant and immune-enhancing effects. In a clinical study it was found that rhodiola exerts an anti-fatigue effect that improves mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate. It was also found to decrease stress in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Ginseng (Panax ginseng)

Close up of ginseng root and broth

Also known as Asian or Korean ginseng, if you are looking to boost your get-up-and-go, ginseng may help you to do just that. Long regarded as something of a wonder herb it is a highly respected herbal tonic, which will give your body the injection of energy you are looking for.

Guarana (Paullinia cupana)

Guarana fruit and tree

Guarana is another great energy giver not to be missed and comes from the seed of a fruit native to the Amazon rainforest. It is a natural source of caffeine, which has been shown to help improve memory, focus, alertness and mood without unwanted side effects (such as increased heart rate or feeling jittery).

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

A bunch of sage leaves

Sage has been shown to improve immediate and delayed word recall, alertness, calmness as well as mental fatigue. To make sage tea put one or two teaspoons of freshly crushed sage leaves in a covered cup of boiling water and leave to stand for around 15 minutes.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)

Ginkgo Biloba plant leaves

Long known to help boost cognitive function, ginkgo is neuroprotective and studies show it may help improve mental processing, memory and attention span.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Dried and fresh rosemary

Numerous studies show how rosemary, often known as the herb of remembrance, can help boost memory as well as cognitive function and increase alertness. Historically, students used to wear a wreath of lavender and rosemary around their necks when sitting exams. The lavender would quell exam nerves while the rosemary would improve concentration.

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri)

Close up of bacopa plant and flower

A staple plant in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa is thought to improve attention, learning, speed of processing and memory. A recent study of a group of over 55s showed it may also help improve verbal learning, and delayed recall.

Try these tips:

  • If your daily routine has gone out of the window during the last few weeks, try to re-establish a new pattern.

Close up of woman writing in note pad

  • Plan your socially distanced commute to work carefully to make it as stress free as possible. Give the trains and buses a miss if you can and consider cycling or walking. Or if it’s not possible to cycle or walk the whole way, consider getting off one or two stops early. It will give you a daily dose of fresh air while the exercise will help boost endorphins – the body’s own feel-good hormones.

Close up of woman cycling to work

  • Have you got into any bad snack habits during lockdown? Now’s a great time to get your diet back on the healthy track. Aim to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day. And make sure to keep well-hydrated – aim for 1.5 – 2 litres of water a day.

Close up of a basket of colourful fruit and vegetables

  • Still working from home? Try to get up and get started at the same time every day if you can. Take regular breaks including a proper lunch break and try to go for a walk halfway through your working day to boost your energy and get that body moving. Plan to finish working and switch off at a set time each day, just as you would if you were in the office, to keep your ‘work time’ and ‘home time’ separate.

Close up of an alarm clock with a woman rising from bed in the backgruond to represent regular getting up time

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