Recharge your overall energy and feel more alive!
Welcome to the energy series! This is the first of six posts that will describe how you can refuel your energy so you don’t have to rely so heavily on stress to take you through your days. Why? Because relying on energy as a life fuel gives you more performance, productivity and feels much better than relying on stress…
In my previous blog series about stress, I concluded that substituting energy (a slow, steady fuel to replenish physical and mental health) for stress (a fast, but toxic and taxing fuel on your physical and mental health) was an essential step in supporting yourself, your life and your health, and I provided a short description of the five energies that fuel your life and keep you alive. Today, we are exploring how you can give yourself a boost, sharing with you how you can refuel all five energies at once, therefore investing a little to get a lot back (my version of doing more with less!).
We often confuse time management with energy management. You claim you don’t have time, but comes evening, you spend precious hours on social media and watching your favorite TV series… So you have time to sit (or collapse), but no energy to do more, whether it is a favorite creative interest (when was the last time you took out your paints…?) or to play ball in the park, or go to to yoga or dance class… So what can you do, realistically, to fuel yourself and have the kind of energy that motivates you to do something more inspiring than spend your limited time watching virtual people live their life on TV… A poor substitute for your own life, don’t you think?
Get more sleep to make better decisions about your life. If you need three alarms to get you up and ready for work… if you could nap at work… or if just thinking about exercise makes you feel tired, get real: you need more sleep. It’s what research tells us, again and again. Forget about “sleeping when you’re dead”, and get yourself some decent sleep, which is 7-8 hours a night, so you’re not dragging yourself through your life, like a dead-alive zombie.
Get adequate sleep to refuel all five kinds of energy: you’ll feel more motivated to do the things you want and you’ll be more likely to eat better and to exercise; you’ll be a nicer and kinder person (to yourself and to others) and you’ll be less likely to get in a car accident. Fact is, lack of sleep is a key factor in making bad decisions that put you at risk, including bad driving and road rage… But sleep deficit also creates the right background for poor eating choices (junk food because preparing food is too much of a burden), for a sedentary lifestyle (no energy to move), or for letting yourself go when really, all you need is a few nights of decent sleep to feel like yourself again…
You are more stressed when you’re tired. When you don’t get enough sleep, everything feels more stressful, whether it’s traffic on the way home, your schedule, or the general feeling that life is too busy. When you’re exhausted, everything becomes overwhelming. Get some rest, or take a few days off, and life is beautiful again… So give yourself enough sleep to deal with life without panicking.
Your brain and your body need 7-8 hours of good sleep a night to function well. Every night, not once or twice a week! Or at least most nights. Sleep is not optional, or something you’ll fit in when you drop from exhaustion. If you’ve been sleep-deprived for years (or life), surviving on 5 hours a night (like 60% Canadians), one good night sleep won’t make up for years of sleep deprivation which by the way, has been used as an effective torture to break down people and make them “moldable” and easily influenced… Think of this next time you feel the impulse to buy something you don’t need… You’re vulnerable! You’re “under the influence” of sleep deprivation!
Can’t sleep? Cut back caffeine progressively. Well, of course – if you’ve been getting by with as little sleep as possible, caffeine has been keeping you awake. Awake, but not necessarily productive, focused or even coherent! Caffeine + sleep-deprivation doesn’t make you productive, but it will take a while to change your habits. First, wean yourself off excessive caffeine, whether from coffee, chocolate, colas, or “energy” drinks such as Red Bulls: cut back 50%, or to no more than two 8-oz cups a day. This is as easy as ordering half-decaf coffee, choosing caffeine-free colas or having green tea instead of coffee. Cutting back saves you the side effects of stopping cold-turkey, such as headaches. No, you won’t end up drooling over your work computer and babbling – you’ll simply become more aware of your real, accumulated fatigue, so you can address what you really need: more sleep, not more caffeine.
Caffeine masks fatigue – it doesn’t make you less tired, or more performant. A small amount of caffeine (about two cups of coffee a day) improves performance, but anything more decreases performance. Excessive caffeine simply makes you jittery, frazzled, confused and jumpy – not a good combination if you’re trying to be more productive.
To get more quality sleep and get more energy into your life, try a few of these tips:
- Start a soothing, mellow bedtime routine, allowing yourself at least an hour to slow down… Try a slow easy evening walk (this is not the time for a power walk); or have a relaxing bath or shower. Make yourself comfortable and relax. You need rest to show up in your life.
- Stay off all caffeine after 2:00pm, as it can interfere with your night sleep, even hours after you drank a single cup of tea or coffee.
- Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bedtime. No, checking your work emails before you drop into bed won’t make you more performant, and yes, it will interfere with sleep, as your mind turns to work mode…
- If you tend to wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, keep pen and paper nearby and jot down quickly what you can’t afford to forget and what prevents you from falling back asleep.
- If you’re still awake and can’t get back to sleep, don’t turn the lights on and don’t turn to electronic entertainment – it’s is not designed to make you sleepy!. Instead, use a meditation or mindfulness app to cue you into slow breathing (such as www.aura.com) or try this breathing exercise: inhale slowly for 5 seconds, gently hold your breath for 3 seconds; exhale slowly for 5 seconds, and allow your breath a 3-second pause. Repeat this for a couple of minutes, ending with a few deep, slow breaths… Nighty night.
For more energy fuelling tips, follow my blog…This series will help you recharge each kind of energy (physical, emotional, cognitive, spiritual and relational), investing into yourself so you will be more productive and make better use of your time. And let me know how this works for you! I’d love to read your comments, and always welcome your suggestions…
A beaver lodge: these little guys work hard to build their home, and sometimes you can peak at them catching a sunny nap on top… They build and they rest, too! I took this picture from my kayak a few days ago.