1. Move your body. "Moderate exercise, even just a brisk 10-minute walk, immediately increases your energy and improves your mood," Thayer says. "It achieves a better mood effect than a candy bar: an immediate positive feeling and slightly reduced tension." And in Thayer's research, study subjects who ate candy bars reported feeling more tense 60 minutes later, while 10 minutes of brisk walking raised their energy levels for one to two hours afterward. More vigorous exercise has the primary effect of reducing tension. Although you may actually experience an energy dip immediately afterward (you're tired from your workout), one to two hours later you'll have an energy resurgence that's a direct result of that workout. "Exercise," Thayer says, "is the single best way of both changing a bad mood and increasing your energy, although it may take time for someone to learn that truth, through experiencing it over and over again."
2. Know your energy highs and lows. Everyone has an energy body clock, Thayer says. Our energy is low immediately after waking (even after sleeping well), peaks in the late morning to early afternoon (usually 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), drops in the late afternoon (3Â–5 p.m.), rises again in the early evening (6 or 7 p.m.) and plummets to its lowest point just before bed (around 11 p.m.). "When energy drops at these common times, it leaves people vulnerable to increased tension and anxiety," Thayer says. "Problems look more serious, people think in more negative terms. We've seen this in studies where people's feelings about exactly the same problem varied widely depending on the time of day."
Rather than feeding your anxiety, Thayer suggests paying attention to your body clock (do you peak earlier or later in the day?) and scheduling your life accordingly whenever you can. Plan to take on easier projects when your energy is low. For many people, the time to tackle tough tasks is in the morning. "That's when you're able to really take on a problem," Thayer says. "It's no accident that most food urges and overeating happen in the late afternoon or in the late evening, when energy and mood are low and we're looking for energy enhancement." That's exactly the moment for a brisk 10-minute walk.