Our energy is one of our most precious resources, and the good news is that it can be maintained and renewed, like the batteries in our phone. We often choose to wait for our energy to be totally depleted before we consider recharging. Which eventually leads to stress and burnout. The better option is to boost your energy levels naturally and regularly. Read on for my top tips on how to do that.
Why does energy matters?
Your energy, the amount of power that’s available to you in order to get things done, affects the outcomes you can achieve. It rubs off on everything you do, has a huge impact on your moods, productivity and performance, it influences how creative and resourceful you can be and how resilient you are to stress in general. Sounds worth paying attention to it, right?
In the modern world however, we tend to value time more than we do our energy. When our workload increases or when we add more responsibilities to our already intense lives (children, mortgages, you name it!) we work harder, we put in longer hours. This can take a big toll on the energy available to us, therefore decreasing our ability to actually achieve what we want to achieve efficiently and effectively.
Lack of energy: the most common causes
I’ve experienced this personally time and time again: the number one thing that tends to rob us of our energy is a lack of boundaries. In other words, doing things because we think we should instead of being intentional with how we use our energy. How many times have you discarded your need for sleep or rest to do something that felt “more productive”? Every time you do that, you eat away at your energy levels. Dragging your feet and relying on coffee to go through your day sounds unexcitedly common in the 21st century but remember that it’s not a normal or optimal way to live life!
The other thing that depletes our energy is living out of synch with our natural cycles. Whether it be the daily cycles, the seasonal cycles or the menstrual cycle for women, all of these have a huge influence on our energy levels. And the more we live in alignment with these cycles, the more energy will be available to us.
Three ways to boost your energy levels naturally
Self-awareness is the place to start: do you know what drains your energy and what replenishes it? How can you work to reduce what depletes your energy and how can you do more of the things that sustain it?
Here are three things to consider adding to your energy management routine:
Good quality sleep
It’s almost impossible to have optimal energy if you don’t sleep well. Prioritising sleep when the sun goes down is a great way to live in alignment with the natural daily cycles as explained above.
According to the latest research, the quality of your sleep matters more than the quantity of sleep you get. How do you know you’ve had good quality sleep? You wake up energised! A good sleep hygiene is your best ally here: having a routine that you start at least one hour before going to bed, that helps you wind down and calm your nervous system. The equivalent of brushing your teeth, but for your nervous system, in order to trigger your sleep hormone, melatonin, to be released. I’ve compiled a list of things to help improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep in my guide Better Sleep. Download it if you’re keen to boost your energy by supercharging your sleep. In the meantime, you may enjoy listening to one of the awesome sleep stories from the Calm app. Avoiding caffeine after 2pm may also help.
A workplace study found an average working professional experiences 87 interruptions per day. No matter whether you work for someone or run your own show, notifications or any other form of interruption have been shown to be sources of stress and to drain your cognitive resources and mental energy.
Cal Newport in his insightful book “Deep work: rules for focused success in a distracted world”, suggests determining how much time you’ll devote to a task, and focusing on the task at hand, for that set period of time, without distractions of any kind. This means you may need to close the door, put your headphones on, turn off your phone or computer notifications, whatever will support you to stay focused. Try to breakdown your day into several periods of deep work followed by short (or long) rest or unfocused time. This will help preserve your mental energy and support you in being more efficient.
We don’t talk about it enough, but we derive a lot of our energy as human beings, from our emotions (70% according to latest research). Often the warning signs of too much stress or impending burnout is the spiralling into unpleasant emotions: frustration, anxiety, anger, all the way to sadness, despair and apathy.
Emotional renewal comes from your ability to engage in activities that bring you joy, that make you feel alive, that may even take you into a state of flow. It can be spending quality time with your kids, reading, listening to your favourite music, talking to someone you love, going for a walk, etc. It doesn’t need to take hours and it doesn’t need to be costly – all that’s required is that you choose something that generates positive emotions for you. What can you do on a daily or weekly basis that fills your emotional cup? Allow yourself to make small or big deposits into your emotional energy bank account regularly. This practice is not a luxury, it’s an essential building block of good energy management.
Your energy is currency. Spend it well. Invest it wisely.
Remember that you have full control over your energy levels. It’s up to you to take responsibility for how you preserve and maintain your energy. What are you going to do to harness its power?
Take the next right step for you, no matter how small it is and practice turning it into a habit before you tackle the following step. A big part of what contributes to maintaining your energy levels is forming good habits around energy management. Slow and steady wins the race! If you need support on this journey, I’d love to answer your questions here.