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How to Get Instant Energy

It's the small things (slumping over your computer, reading in dim light, eating full-fat cheese) that wear us down. Read on for quick and easy ways to recharge your batteries.
At the Computer

Even on the best of days, crossing off everything on your to-do list is tough. When you're tired, it's nearly impossible. "Exhaustion makes the smallest of tasks hard to complete," says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., director of the Annapolis Center for Effective Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Therapies, in Maryland, and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery). But a few simple tricks can give you the stamina you need to be more productive. Here, habits that may be draining you—and how to nix them in no time.

Staring at an Electronic Screen

Many of us spend five days a week—or more—in front of a computer, but 78% of us don't have our monitors positioned correctly, which can decrease our energy levels. "When our screens are too high, too low, or too far away, words and images can look fuzzy. To see more clearly, we frequently squint, fatiguing facial muscles. We also tend to tilt our heads upward or downward to help put things in focus, a habit that can cause neck and shoulder tension," says Kerry Beebe, an optometrist in Brainerd, Minnesota. Plus, excess glare, looking at a screen for too long or trying to decipher illegible fonts on damaged, dirty, or dim monitors and handheld personal digital assistants (PDAs) can lead to eyestrain and headaches.

Fast Fixes

  • The top of your computer monitor should be at eye level so you're looking slightly down at the screen without having to tip your head forward. If the monitor is nonadjustable, place a book or two underneath it, or raise or lower your chair. Keep it at the right distance, too, by positioning it at arm's length.
  • "Reduce any undue glare from nearby windows by adjusting the blinds or turning your monitor 90 degrees from the window," suggests Beebe, and give your eyes a rest every 30 minutes by looking at distant objects.
  • Increase the size of your font or magnify documents, and make sure your monitor's brightness level is as high as possible. When text is in a light color, switch it to something darker; if it's already black, make it bold.
  • Guard your computer screen from scratches with bubble-free plastic films ($15,, or ask the company that makes your PDA about skins and cases, because you'll need one that fits your particular brand's shape. Don't forget to clean your screens—or the outside of their protective covers—regularly with a soft, dry cloth to remove dust. (Spritzing the fabric first with a little all-purpose cleaning solution is okay, but never spray a monitor directly.)

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