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If you could have more of something what would it be? Money? Time? Energy? These are the three most common things people wish they had more of. I’m not a financial advisor so I’m not going to teach you how to get more money. I’m not god so I’m not going to show you how to get more time. But I am a professional in the field of health and fitness, so I am going to teach you how to get more energy.
Having more energy is much more than simply sleeping for a designated number of hours.
I get it. I’ve been there plenty of times. Even now, when I schedule my day and follow my beloved routines and habits to feel full of energy each and every day, I still have days when I’m low on energy as a result of events outside of my control. Think flights, kids and barking dogs. Sometimes, despite your best of intentions, you’re going to be low on energy.
Sleep is the first consideration when it comes to having more energy. It is the number one way to recover from injury or illness and the number one way to have more energy. But it’s not the only way to have more energy. There are other important things you can do to maintain high levels of energy on a consistent basis. Plus, there is much more to sleep than just getting eight hours a night.
How to Get More Energy
This is obvious but I wanted to start with this one because there’s more to it than the time you spend sleeping. Everyone has preferred times of day and lengths of time to sleep. And this can be sorted into four categories. Typically, people need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. But this can change depending on your genetics or lifestyle. For example, some elite athletes need up to twelve hours of sleep a night, but this is only because they are so active during the day. At the other end of the spectrum, some people can get by (and be fully energised) with just four hours a night. To make it easier to understand, based off the research I’ve read by Dr Michael Breus, we’ll call these people dolphins. The other three categories include lions who typically sleep from 8pm(ish) — 5am(ish), bears who typically sleep from 10pm(ish) — 7am(ish), and wolves who typically sleep from midnight(ish) — 9am(ish).
It’s easy to make the assumption that exercise will make you tired. Inferring from that, it’s also easy to use the excuse to not exercise after work because you’re so tired. But ask anyone who loves exercise as to why they do it. It’s more often than not the feeling they get. The body releases a bunch of “feel good” chemicals in response to exercise. Serotonin for example affects your mood, appetite, sleep, memory and sexual desire all in a positive way. Endorphins reduce the perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. While dopamine, commonly thought to make you feel good, is actually released when something turns out better than you predicted. This leads to a strengthening of that behaviour.
- Eat satiating and nourishing foods
This is not just food and it’s certainly not sugar that I’m referring to. Sugar gives you a burst of energy but it leaves you feeling lethargic afterwards, meaning that you need to keep topping up to maintain that high. Foods that are satiating, meaning filling, are proteins. Foods that are nourishing are those that don’t just provide energy but also vitamins and minerals. Many of the foods in the Western diet are energy rich but nutrient poor. Bread and pasta is an example of this. They provide energy but very little else. Vegetables on the other hand are a great source vitamins and minerals, meaning they are quite nourishing. They aren’t very satiating however, so when coupled with satiating proteins like meat, poultry or fish, they provide lots of energy.
- Do what you love
Work long and hard on something that doesn’t inspire you and you get stressed. Work long and hard on something that does inspire you and you burst with energy. What you do and how you do it is really important in having more energy. Think about it. When you’re not enjoying yourself, time seems to slow down. When you’re doing something you love, time seems to go exceptionally fast. It fills you with purpose and passion. You become more productive and you can achieve a whole lot more. But most importantly, you become enthusiastic and full of energy.
- Take regular breaks
The way I love to structure my workday, when I can, is in two hours blocks. I work for ninety minutes and rest for thirty. I came across a study which stated that it takes the brain twenty minutes to reduce blood flow and lower the levels of electrical activity from high-level thinking. By not taking at least twenty minutes to let your brain regenerate and recover from high-level thinking, your brain exponentially loses its ability to think clearly, creatively and at a high level.
I wrote about the physical benefits of meditation in my last article. There are many physical and psychological benefits of meditation. From lowering anxiety to enhancing creativity, but the main benefit of meditation to I appreciate the most is just how relaxed, happy and capable of handling adverse and stressful situations you become.
Having more energy is much more than simply sleeping for a designated number of hours. It’s finding what time of night your body is best suited for sleeping, as well as regularly exercising, eating satiating and nourishing foods, doing what you love, taking regular breaks in your work schedule and meditating. You can have more energy by doing one or two of these but for maximum energy on a consistent basis, do all of them.
Which one of these tips can you implement to have more energy?
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