1. Get centered. A two- to three-minute mini-mindfulness meditation — simply focusing on your breathing as you inhale and exhale, keeping thoughts to a minimum — can release body tension, stop stress in its tracks and make you more alert, says stress expert Kathleen Hall.
2. Have a balanced snack. Going more than a few hours between meals can make blood sugar and mood crash, says Los Angeles dietitian Ashley Koff, R.D., coauthor of Mom Energy. You should always plan a carb, good fat and protein pick-me-up for you and your kids — apples with almond butter, hummus with veggies, a handful of a good high-fiber cereal mixed with nuts — between lunch and dinner.
3. Make a change. Experiencing new things gives us a little adrenaline rush, even if it's something as minor as wearing a new lip color, driving a different route to work or hitting a lunch place you've never tried before, says Hall.
4. Take the perfect power nap. When you're truly wrecked, try sleep expert Michael Breus's trick for sneaking in a satisfying siesta: "Cool down 6 ounces of drip coffee with an ice cube and drink, then lie down for a 25-minute nap. You will get into the early stages of sleep, but the caffeine will kick in at about the 25-minute mark to wake you up feeling refreshed. You'll be good for hours." Any longer than that and you'll fall into deeper sleep stages and end up groggy. (Keep in mind that the caffeine may keep you from sleeping well that night, so use this one sparingly and wisely!)
5. Pop a vitamin. B vitamins are well known for helping your body break down food into energy. (Vitamin B12 injections have been a favorite celebrity pick-me-up for years.) But vitamin D — something too many of us don't get enough of — may play a role too. "I tell my patients to supplement with 1,000 IU of D3 daily," says Breus. "I do it myself!"
6. Have fun. Research has shown laughter is an amazing stimulant — and that even anticipating a chuckle-inducing event, like going to watch a comedy show, can up the body's production of mood enhancing hormones. "But women have forgotten how to play around!" says Hall. If you don't have time to plan something with family or friends, at least indulge in a few minutes with a silly computer game (Angry Birds, anyone?), app or favorite sitcom for an emotional jump-start any time of day.
Originally published in the April 2013 issue of Family Circle magazine.