10 steps to increasing your energy
Stop feeling sluggish and increase your energy with these 10 tips
1. Prioritize yourself daily
So much to do and so little time to do it. If you don't make an effort to put yourself on your daily to-do list you know you'll be overlooked...wait, you already have been overlooked haven't you? Well, it's time then to make that extra effort and carve out just a little bit of time each day where you do something just for you. Make up your mind!
2. Move your body every day
Since you know that physical activity is so important for health, energy, weight management and longevity, today find a way to get to it, even if you lack desire or don't believe you have the time. Exercise energizes, and once you make it a regular part of your day, even in small increments, excuses like lack of time, energy or motivation will no longer be an issue.
If your busy schedule restricts you to less exercise than you're used to, don't wait for more time, start with less. Incorporate at least ten minutes of purposeful physical activity into every day.
• Walk 15 minutes to a meeting instead of driving.
• Take the stairs part way instead of the elevator.
• Get off the bus or subway a few stops earlier and walk.
• Drive part way to work and cycle the rest of the way.
• Do crunches on all the commercial breaks while you watch your favourite show.
• Go for a walk after dinner.
• Do jumping jacks as you wait for the kettle to boil.
• If you already walk your dog, add hills.
• Do walking lunges down the hallway.
• Run up the stairs. Chase your kids if you have to.
3. Make healthy food choices most of the time
If you want better energy, choose to make a few smart changes with your eating habits every day. Even if you hold on to some of your favourite foods, you can make big strides through bite-sized improvements.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• If eating out is hard to avoid, pack healthy snacks for between meals.
• Down-size your full-whip super large mocha to a medium non-fat latte with chocolate sprinkles.
• Cut your portion sizes just a bit.
• Eat breakfast – even just a few days of the week.
• Be cautious of the little nibbles you sneak here and there.
• Choose healthy late night snacks.
• Skip the vending machine.
• Add in fruits and veggies.
• Trim the fat.
Food is fuel for functionality. Regular, healthful eating helps you think clearly through the day, keeps energy levels up and even assists with weight management and health issues. Learn to enjoy your food, and know that healthful eating can still be delicious and satisfying.
4. Stay hydrated!
Why is water so darn important? Did you know your body is made up of approximately 50 percent of the stuff? Your body needs fluids to help with the digestion, absorption and transport of nutrients as well as elimination of waste products. Fluids also act as a coolant for maintaining body temperature and lubricating joints, eyes and air passages. If you consider that 75 percent of North Americans are chronically dehydrated, then the simple act of drinking more water will make a big, big difference to your energy.
Drink water regularly to satisfy your thirst. Be sure to drink more water in hot weather or when you are very active. Besides water, you can count other fluids such as juice, milk and tea toward your daily fluid intake, but be aware of the extra calories as you do.
5. Get enough rest
Since when did sleep become a luxury? While you sleep, your body restores itself and repairs from the stress of the day. Inadequate rest impairs your ability to think, to handle stress, to maintain a healthy immune system and to moderate your emotions. Most of us aren't getting enough of it and we've become a nation of working tired holding on for dear life, hoping to make it to the weekend. Why not make your rest a priority for a few weeks and see how you feel?
• Get to bed 30 minutes earlier at least three times a week.
• Wind down your busy work at least two hours before bed.
• Before bed, avoid computer, television, video games and work related phone calls that stimulate the mind and make it difficult to relax.
• Do your best to stick to the same sleep schedule.
• If you have trouble getting to sleep, try slow, deep breathing or relaxation techniques like stretching or meditation to calm your mind.
6. Stress less for success
In the early 70s when stress expert Eli Bay opened the Relaxation Response Institute in Toronto, Canada, he said that if you looked in the yellow pages under stress all you found were engineering companies. At the time the concept of physical and psychological stress was in its infancy.
Today, if you were to do a simple Internet search with the word stress you'd get in excess of 540 million hits all related to stress management the way we understand it today.
Times have changed. We're connected 24/7, we work longer hours with less sleep and physical activity, we don't eat as well and it's taking its toll on our stress levels and overall health.
Stress is something that we're so used to that it doesn't occur to us that we could live without it, or at least live with less. If stress is present even in small does, it will negatively impact your energy and eventually affect your health. Of course stress is usually the result of a busy life and if you're busy you probably don't have time to deal with your stress.
7. Seek happiness
Happiness has a direct link to a rich source of energy that no amount of exercise or healthy eating can match. It's true! Happiness is a big part of staying energized.
It seems like such a simple thing, but when life gets busy we sometimes just cruise along and accept what is handed us and then one day we wake up and think: this is not what I signed on for.
Do you like your work? Do you love the people you spend time with? Do you wake up and look forward to launching into the day? If any part of your life makes you unhappy, you'll expend unnecessary energy dealing with that pain–energy that could be used to advance your health, career and overall satisfaction.
Face up to things in your life that make you unhappy. It's not always easy and the fix may not be quick, but the results will be very worthwhile.
8. Be kind to others
Imagine a world where everyone is just a little kinder. When you're trying to merge into traffic, someone lets you in. When shopping, you allow a person in a hurry to go ahead of you in the checkout line. You get back to your car and find someone has put money in the parking meter.
Rushing breakneck through our day, we so often forget that how we relate to ourselves and others is much more important than the things we do. Much of the time we hurry through activities so focused on the outcome that we miss the life-affirming interactions along the way. Begin your own kindness campaign by engaging in one small intentional act of kindness every day.
Why? Research shows kindness makes us happier and healthier. People who perform random acts of kindness report being happier, and when the acts are varied—holding the door open for a stranger, helping someone with directions, doing a roommate's dishes—those happy feelings last longer than if you were to perform one act of kindness repeatedly.
Beyond happy feelings, kindness is good for your health. Those who regularly help people have better mental health and lower rates of depression, and tend to have better immune systems. Kindness can also help regulate emotions, which has a positive impact on our health.
Go through your day with an openness to kindness. Walk with your head up and eyes open. Connect with people. Look for opportunities to engage and help. One small kind act a day is good for your health!
9. Embrace your passion
Energy comes from doing things you love. Hours pass like minutes when you’re engaged in tasks you’re passionate about. What ﬁres you up? Artistic pursuits, sports, outdoor activities, time spent with family and friends, travel, photography, building things? What does it for you?
If you’re not spending at least part of your week in the pursuit of your passions, you’re missing out on a limitless energy source. Begin by thinking back to the things you used to do that brought you joy. Next, think about the things you look forward to doing down the line when you have more time and energy. In this instant take a few small steps toward bringing past and future to the present.
10. Exercise good judgement every day
Change is challenging. And in the busy day-to-day rollercoaster ride that is life, the status quo — or what we already know — is vastly easier to wrap our heads around. When fatigue and stress are high we default to what is familiar out of habit or laziness or lack of awareness. When fatigued we more likely default to the sofa instead of the gym. When we’re stressed we most often default to comfort foods over healthier options. When work gets busy we regularly default to task management over business or career development.
In the new plan, next time is now. Be aware of every in-an-instant decision you make that will bring you closer to more energy now. Start today. Keep at it! Do it for yourself!
Energy Now! author Michelle Cederberg has a Masters in Kinesiology with a specialization in Exercise and Health Psychology, plus a BA in Psychology. She has been working in the trenches in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years as an educator, personal trainer, life coach and speaker.