Dr. Katrina Traikov ND

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How to get more energy – without caffeine

Have you ever wanted more energy during the day, and restful sleep at night? Or maybe you want to get over that 2-3 pm energy slump? Have you ever wanted to jump out of bed in the morning full of energy and ready to face the day? This article is for you!

Here are 7 tips to increase your energy naturally – without caffeine.

1) Fuel yourself like the Ferrari you are

Eating a properly balanced diet that’s tailored to your needs will allow you to fuel your body and set yourself up for success! Learn about eating for blood sugar balance here, or healthy snacks here and speak with a healthcare provider for individualized advice. Make sure there’s gas in the tank, and you’re not revving your engine on empty. Making sure you’re properly hydrated is also important. Of course, setting yourself for success involves more than just a healthy diet. Read on!

2) Heal the gut

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, our digestive system is the root of good health. Think about it. It’s the way we break down and assimilate the food we ingest. If your gut is inflamed or irritated, it can be harder for your body to digest protein, and absorb the nutrients you need like B12, iron, zinc and magnesium. Speak with a healthcare provider about supporting your digestive system. Different strategies can include: identifying food sensitivities, using herbal medicines that are soothing or antimicrobial; or digestive enzymes, or probiotics. Even belly breathing and stress management or relaxation techniques can help your digestive system by putting your nervous system into rest and digest mode before a meal. Feeling gratitude before a meal can also be helpful to support your digestion. Finally our digestive system loves a regular routine. Simple strategies like sitting down to regular meals in a relaxing environment, or if you are eating at your desk, at least covering your work with a tea towel, and taking a few moments for some belly breathing and gratitude before your meal can go a long way. Treat your digestive system well and reap the rewards with a boost in energy.

3) Get Quality Sleep

Sleep is how our body restores itself. Good quality sleep is one of the best ways to support our nervous system and our adrenal glands. If you have any trouble falling asleep or staying asleep; you’re restless, or you’re waking up not feeling refreshed, speak to your healthcare provider and get to the bottom of it. Quality sleep is vital for energy.

4) Get Energy Conscious. Become an Energy Ninja.

We’re often aware of conserving energy in our homes: turning off the lights, addressing air leaks, using timers etc. But I’m going to challenge you to become aware of how you spend your energy, and to use it strategically to get the results you want.

The fact of the matter is, we don’t have unlimited energy. Even kids get tired and cranky.

Imagine you begin each day with a certain amount of energy in your energy envelope. Some days you’ll have more energy than others.

Check in with yourself 1-3 times per day about where your energy levels are at. Take a few breaths. Feel the ground under your feet and/or the chair under your sits bones and check in with yourself about where your energy levels are at.

Where does your energy go? And is it getting you the results you want, or are you just spinning your wheels?

Take some time to reflect on which tasks energize you, and which tasks drain your energy.

What do you love to do? What do you value? What are your goals? What brings you joy? What excites you?

Is what you’re spending your time and energy on consistent with what you value? Is it helping you achieve your goals? If it’s not, this can be a huge energy drain!

Are you confused because you ‘have everything’ and you’re unhappy? Forget about checking all the boxes. What’s important to you? What do you want? You’ve got to be strategic about this. I don’t want to be the one to tell you that you can’t have everything but, knowing your priorities is key!

It’s your life. And, life is short. So, find some joie de vivre – dance, sing, paint, whatever.

Each of us has a genius-zone or strengths

These strengths often come so naturally to us, that we think everyone has them. Capitalize on them. Tasks that use our strengths often energize us. Whether it’s taking charge of a situation, seeing the bigger picture, relating to people one-on-one, winning others over, achieving a goal, competing, fixing something, maximizing the efficiency of something, or something else entirely.

Working within our genius zone or capitalizing on our strengths can free up a ton of energy.

What’s one step you could take to free up some energy?

Whether it’s organizing your space, setting some goals, reflecting on what you value, getting rid of some stuff, ditching a task that drains you, thinking and working strategically to decrease the demands on your time and energy, or increasing tasks or activities that energize you.

There’s nothing wrong with hard work especially if you’re passionate about it, it energizes you, or it’s helping you move forward or reach a goal you’ve set. But as my highschool calculus teacher always said – work smart, not hard.

Is there an easier way to get the results you want? What’s one action you could take today to simplify your life? 

Also, though we’ve all coped or been in survival mode before, as Danielle LaPorte says,  “When you make ‘making do’ your normal. You’re giving up precious space to something that isn’t precious to you.”

Take a few breaths and check in with yourself when a new demand is being made of your time and energy.

How does it make you feel in your body? What sensations does it bring up? Dread, joy, nervousness? Weigh this against the fact that growth and challenge can be uncomfortable, and can make us feel as though we want to run the other way. Does the idea of this demand energize you or drain you?

Treat your time and energy as the precious resource it is.

We only have a given amount of energy on a given day. Be realistic with the time and energy that you have available to you and treat your time and energy as the precious resource it is. Become aware of it and be strategic with it.

Sometimes we let the day get away from us and it steam-roller’s over us. Take charge of your day, and how you spend your energy. And be mindful your energy bank account isn’t chronically overdrawn.

5) Prioritize Self-Care

If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. Set boundaries. Say no. Get clear on your needs and priorities, and carve out the time for what’s important to you.

Take 20 minutes a day to do something that brings you joy. And maybe even build your day around it. It’s the reverse of what you’d think. But trust me, it’s the real deal.

The world we live in is filled with people vying for our attention, and making urgent demands on our time.

What’s important to you is often not urgent, and it often gets left on the back-burner or in the back of your proverbial closet collecting dust. Often the urgent stuff has to do with others wanting to get their to do lists done. If you don’t believe me or you have no idea what I’m talking about check out this short video from Marie Forleo. You’ll be glad you did. And, don’t worry, the urgent stuff is going to get done. It has to. Just don’t let it take over your day.

Take the time to prioritize what’s important to you. And guard that time with your life. Commit to yourself, your goals, and what’s truly important to you. Even if it’s just for 20 mins a day.

If you’re like me, and you get so engrossed with the task at hand that you forget about self-care like drinking water, going for a short walk, or getting up for a stretch break – try setting a timer on your phone or tablet to remind yourself.

6) Manage your stress

Chronic stress can be a huge drain on our resources and our health.

What’s stressing you out? How does stress affect you? What do you notice about yourself when you’re stressed? What would others notice about you when you’re stressed? How do you manage your stress?

Our nervous system can be in one of two modes – fight or flight (high-stress mode) – or rest and digest (relaxed mode).

It’s not that one’s bad and one’s good. They both have their merits. It’s about choosing which mode will serve you best at a given time.

When we’re in fight or flight mode, our mental focus narrows, and our blood is shunted away from our digestive system and towards our muscles.

When we’re in rest and digest mode we’re able to think and solve problems more creatively, we’re better able to digest our food, and we’re better able to sleep and heal.

Taking the time for 3-10 belly breaths is often enough to flip the switch. Or perhaps, before an exercise class, a walk or a meal, you can envision putting all your stresses and worries in a backpack, and leaving the imaginary backpack at the door to pick up later.

Figuring out what’s stressing you out or draining your energy, how stress affects you, and how to manage it  effectively can take some time, as well as a willingness to try things out and see how they work for you. But, you’ll reap the benefits in terms of increased energy.

7) Set Goals, Distract yourself or change your focus – What Pokemon Go and my grandma taught me about overcoming fatigue

There’s a lot to be said for knowing when to rest and restore vs. pushing through. That being said…

When I visited my grandma in eastern Europe a few years ago, she taught me about the art of distraction or changing your focus. There was a lot of family stress going on at the time, and she would regularly distract me from it like a pro. It was amazing to watch it happen and to experience. I’d sit down with her in her living room and start talking about all the stressful things going on, and get really worked up about it. She’d realize it wasn’t useful for me to be stressed about the family drama. She’d distract me, and we’d proceed to spend a lovely afternoon together. It was amazing. And, I’m so glad I got to share that time with her.

Fast-forward to this summer and the Pokemon Go craze.

I’ve always enjoyed walking the Pembroke Waterfront path. I find it calming, energizing, and as cheesy as it may sound I love listening to the sounds of nature and taking it all in visually as well. I love taking the time to connect with my body and the present moment through my breathing and mindful walking, or chatting with my partner. We’re so fortunate to live where we are.

The thing is, before Pokemon Go, I wouldn’t go walking every day. I’d tell myself excuses about other work I had to do, and end up binge-watching Vikings, or checking social media.

Or, sometimes I’d make it about a kilometer in total. But I’d be so focused on my fatigue that I’d convince myself I was too tired, and had to turn around and come back after 500 metres. I’d also convinced myself that I could only handle one walk per day.

I know that walking for half-an hour a day has tremendous health benefits. And, I truly enjoy it. It brings me joy, energizes me, and helps me clear my mind. So why was this so hard for me before Pokemon Go?

Pokemon Go has done two things for me. It’s gotten me out the door 1-2 times per day for a walk consistently. And, it’s helped me focus on the game instead of getting wrapped up in stories around “my fatigue”.

Since the game has been released, I’ve been outside for a 3 kilometer walk pretty much every day, and often twice a day. So now I’m walking 3-6 kilometers a day, instead of 1-3 kilometers 3-5 times per week. And, I feel like I have much more energy.

Sometimes setting a goal, telling a friend about it, or bringing a friend with us, taking action, or changing what we focus on can help us be more energized.

Now it’s your turn!

I’d love to see how these strategies work for you! And if you have any tips of your own, feel free share! Connect with me by e-mail or on our Facebook Page.

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