You’ve heard it said when seeing an older person around a young child, “ I wish I could bottle some of that.” Many of us who are beyond our forties may have noticed that we just don’t seem to have the same giddy up as we did when we were in our 20’s or 30’s. Is reduced energy normal? Is there anything about feeling fatigued all the time that we can control? What are the areas we ought to pay attention to if we are to manage our energy effectively and not be tired all the time? Let’s consider five main areas that can make a huge difference in managing your energy and therefore getting more done and feeling good throughout the day.
1.GOOD QUALITY SLEEP: The amount of sleep and the quality of sleep are both important. Many of us who feel squeezed by the demands of work, family responsibilities, extended family and /or other obligations may meet those demands only when we stay up late and sacrifice sleep. However, we know that less than 7 hours for most people results in fatigue, an increase in irritability, and a reduction in cognitive function. Additionally, chronic lack of sleep can throw off our hormonal balance making weight gain more likely. Instead, go to bed same time and wake up same time. Be sure you get 7 to 8 hours of good shut eye and find ways to reduce or delegate some of your workload or other responsibilities or create a strategic schedule to become more effective at managing your time.
2. FITNESS: I like to call it FAAT, which stands for Fun Activity Appointment Time. This entails building into your schedule time to move your body. If you do something fun, you will enjoy it and you will be more likely to repeat that activity again. Maybe you walk three times a week, swim one day and do yoga two days a week. The point is making time for this part of your day is essential for overall health and wellbeing and also allows you to enjoy better energy. Side note, people who work out and move their bodies report better quality of sleep… bonus!
3. DIET AND NUTRITION: What we eat matters therefore our food choices matter every day. When we eat the Standard American Diet, laden with high fat, sugar and salt, we often feel boosts of energy ( from the sugar/carbs) and then our energy falls off the cliff! Another common occurrence I see is busy moms, business owners etc. who skip meals in order to “get more done.” This creates havoc for your blood sugar and will likely serve to tank your energy in the short and long run. Food is fuel. Healthy food is the fuel to run on. Pack your lunch the day before, keep healthy protein snacks within easy reach whether you work from home or an office, and shoot for eating smaller meals every 3-4 hours. Protein at each meal will help you to feel satiated, and lots of fruits and veggies will help keep up energy levels. Reduce sugar, high fat and salt as well as processed foods, all of which contribute to a feeling of lethargy.
4. NOTICE YOUR NATURALL ENERGY RHYTHMS. First, notice when your energy naturally seems the highest. Are you a morning person? If so, then tackle the activities that require more energy first thing in the morning. Do you notice your energy wanes around midday? Then pay attention to your thinking and actions around an hour before that typically occurs. Did you skip a meal? Did you eat chocolate for lunch? Do you have a meeting or activity around that time that feels particularly stressful? Any of those things can cause us to feel like a balloon that just got the air popped out of it.
5. CHECK IN WITH ANXIETY / DEPRESSION: Depression in particular can often be a significant robber of energy, and anxiety depending on frequency and severity can rob us of energy as well. It is important to tend to our mental health especially if we experience one or both of these. Finding ways to manage anxiety and depression are a great way to improve our mental health as well as increase our energy. There are many options both pharmaceutically as well as naturally to help with depression and anxiety.
Having good energy is not something to take for granted. I hear people complain they don’t have enough energy (or time) however what is often missing is the conscious choice to manage their energy well. With some effort and creating new healthier habits we can enjoy good energy for years to come.