Feeling tired? Join the club. The combination of hyper-productive, over-scheduled, picture perfect, stressful lifestyles have contributed to an energy crisis in America. When it comes to energy, it’s not finite — but you can waste it. The good news is you can also increase it. James Redfield said, “Where intention goes, energy flows.”
We all want to feel alert, well-rested and energetic, but for many of us this is a dream, not a reality. Most of the time, fatigue can be traced to one or more of your habits or routines. It can be a normal and very important response to physical exertion, stress, poor eating habits, boredom or a lack of sleep. The truth is there are quite possibly a myriad of reasons why your body feels fatigue, exhaustion and/or a general lack of energy. In some cases, however, fatigue is merely a symptom of an underlying medical problem. When fatigue is not relieved by enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise and a low-stress environment, it should be evaluated by a doctor.
Remember that where intention goes, energy flows. Where is your focus? What has your attention? When it comes to our body and life, oftentimes the default response is to focus on lack. What’s missing? Where am I falling short? How did I fail? What’s wrong with me?! These common thought patterns can lead to depression, anxiety and a sedentary life.
To create more energy, shift your attention (and intention) in each the following areas:
1. Lifestyle: Have you ever found yourself completely exhausted rehashing an argument, second-guessing a decision or in the downward spiral of regret? I’ve been through too many emotional roller-coasters to count and each one left me feeling depleted and defeated. Before you try to increase your energy, take a minute to honestly evaluate how and where you’re currently investing what you have.
For many, this is a simple shift to think about energy from an expenditure to an investment. Where are you wasting it? Toxic relationships, negative thinking, impulsive decisions and bad habits siphon away vast quantities of energy and leave you with nothing to show for it. Instead, decide to “invest your energy into something that is going to contribute to your growth.” In other words: Use it wisely.
One of the best ways to change your lifestyle is to establish boundaries. Not sure how? The Boundaries book is one of the best kicks in the gut you’ll ever take. A note of forewarning: the first time I read it I got mad. Really mad. Each time after I got smarter, braver and a lot more free. If you wonder how to set physical, emotional or spiritual boundaries, or silently wonder if you can set limits and still be loving, this book is for you. Are you surrounded by critics or negative people? Do you have a friend that’s passive aggressive or mean? Do you find yourself exhausted by the same crisis or circumstance time and time again and can’t seem to break free? Life is too short. When you learn to set boundaries physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, you can stop squandering the energy you already do have and channel it into something you want.
2. Nutrition: If you aren’t currently looking at the ingredients in the food you eat, you need to start. There is a whole host of hazards in our food supply and, it turns out, not only is it dangerous to your health, but directly affects your energy levels. They say abs are made in the kitchen and, while I certainly haven’t found any in my pantry, what you put in your body will show up on your body. Fatigue and exhaustion are a heavy cloak. This summer I got out of my normal routine. Traveling, stress, camping and the season of summer in general lent itself well to convenience, cocktails and comfort food. Mid-summer I found myself beyond just tired, unable to make it through a single day without a nap. Food was ultimately part of the problem and I needed to course correct.
But please, don’t start another diet! If you struggle with nutrition or constantly find yourself on some fad diet or another, inform yourself with this resource. It’s an honest look into why diets don’t work and provides a comprehensive list of foods to eat and ingredients to avoid to change your lifestyle.
As much as you can, eliminate processed foods and choose foods that have a lot of nutrition per calorie. These include vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains and lean animal protein. Make breakfast a priority. It’s an easy meal to skip, but one or two easy go-to breakfast ideas is all you need. Not only will breakfast help get your metabolism going, it sets the stage for a healthy day of eating. Snack smart. Real food is your best form of energy. Combine complex carbs with protein and fat to give you lasting energy. Try nuts and dried fruit, avocado toast, Greek yogurt and granola, or apple slices with honey, oats and cinnamon. Try to get at least one source of omega-3 fats in your body every day and don’t overeat. Large portions can drain your energy. Finally, increase your water intake and limit or eliminate alcohol. So long summer.
To read the last two ways to increase your energy, take back your power, and reclaim the life you love, join me over at my friend Ruth’s at: Living Well Spending Less.