I talked about energy and a simple exercise to help you understand it. It might be helpful to run through the exercise again so it is fresh in your mind. It will only take you a moment.
There’s a cheeky little trick with this exercise – some people find that when they survey their energy landscapes, they realise they have more energy than they feel. It seems odd, but I’ve felt it a few times – beneath a layer of fatigue is a glowing ball of energy, just waiting for you to grasp it. So when you do this exercise even once, you come out of it feeling refreshed.
After you do it a few times, though, you feel something on a whole new level.
This exercise is more than just a way to relax. It deepens the connection with your body. Patterns and rhythms stand out – most of which you already know, some of which surprises you. It brings you in touch with something at your core and helps it grow.
I can’t tell you what patterns you might find between your activities and your energy levels. Fortunately, you are already an expert in yourself – I’m just here to shine a light on some of the forgotten corners. What I can tell you is some of the stuff that worked for me.
Relaxing into a warm, cosy bed is fun and soothing. And yet, I have to be disciplined to do it. There are only so many hours in the day and sometimes I get on a roll with something (frustratingly, I tend to do my best writing late at night). The temptation to put off sleep can anchor me to the real world as I squeeze a bit of extra time from the day.
This is fine, on occasion. It starts to lower my energy when it becomes a habit. How much sleep you need varies from person to person but the key is making sure you get enough. All the research in the world, plus your own observations, show that after a few weeks of even mild sleep deprivation, two things happen. This first is that your mental abilities drop. The second is that you delude yourself into thinking they haven’t.
Some light exercise most days of the week – that’s all it takes to keep my energy levels high. Exercise boosts your mood, abilities and energy levels. Even if it didn’t, it adds some variety to your day – that alone helps keep things mentally fresh.
Not all exercise is equal, though it all helps. I find that bringing balance gives the best boost. I’m naturally a skinny, manic sort of guy – this means that lifting weights balances me more than cardio does and, sure enough, I find it makes my energy levels skyrocket. If you are more grounded with a solid frame, consider cardio. But like I say, anything is better than nothing.
Projects, Hobbies and Activities
It’s amazing how much you can get done when you add a little variety. I have quite a few things that keep me going – this blog being one – and if I stopped doing one, it would make it harder to do the others.
That’s not to say you take on so much that you burn out or neglect some of them. It’s about slowly and naturally adding things to your life. Dabble broadly and dive deeply. It’s surprisingly energising spending an hour working on one thing then switching to an hour on another… I find it more relaxing than watching TV for that time.
There’s an element of society that will guilt you for wasting even a single evening. These people will tell you that every day needs to be jampacked full of excitement and awesomeness. I don’t mean to add weight to the message but there’s truth to their crazy – but only if what you are doing energises and enriches you, instead of it being an obligation.
We’re talking about energy, so we have to mention the fuel. Eating the right foods for you is one of the most dramatic ways to improve your energy. Imagine being free of food comas and sugar crashes. Imagine having enough energy to clean the house and go to the gym even after a long day at work. Imagine being able to turn down – without effort or difficulty – bad foods that you normally can’t resist. It all happens when you eat right.
For me, the best improvement was when I cut out sugar. I didn’t think I could do it since I craved sugar all the time – the thing is, once it cleared my system those cravings went away. Everything improved, from my weight to my mood to my quality of sleep. My energy levels are not only higher but much more stable, too.
Maybe it won’t work for you like it did for me. The thing is, if you don’t experiment with your diet then nothing will change. Every year the quality of the food I put in my body improves and every year my energy levels climb straight up.
My old job started off okay. But a few years in, I started to stagnate. I was bored, unchallenged and unfulfilled. I spent months working on projects that no one seemed to care about. There were few opportunities for promotion, learning, anything.
When I switched jobs, I realised how much energy I was using up just making it through the day. Even though I was working less hard than I am now, it was far more exhausting. My new job is challenging, engaging and packed with variety. Every day, I can see the difference I am making. I am learning new skills and even adding a few qualifications to my name. Doesn’t hurt that the office is a fun place to work, either. The difference this makes is that I have so much energy left over from work.
My energy levels have been higher than ever these past few months. Ever since I started writing about energy and creativity, my attention has been on how I feel and what works for me. Writing about it makes me think about it, so I think about it all the time. There’s no wonder that my energy levels have reached unparalleled heights.
This list isn’t complete. Something as simple as a few days without sun can throw off my energy levels. The thing is, most of the above will work for most people. Imagine living your life but with more energy – isn’t that worth a bit of practice?