Do you want to boost your energy? I do!
Over my lifetime, I have struggled with fatigue. Its probably in my nature based on family history, but I have found that the steps below will boost your energy tremendously.
1. Get a good night's sleep
You simply cannot live to your potential if you are tired. You hear people say "I can work on 4, or 6 hours of sleep!" Sure, you can. I've done it, but you cannot maximize your productivity without a good, solid nights sleep. Sleep is important for the restorative and cognitive process of our bodies. It is also key to good overall health. There is a reason I put this one first.
2. Get proper nutrition
Eating heavy, sugary and processed foods are bad for us, we all know that. We only get one body, and fueling it properly is important to maximize not only our energy levels, but also decrease our risk of disease and/or death. You can't go through a single day without seeing an add for a supplement, new fad diet, a book or some system for losing weight. Nutrition doesn't have to be complicated. The core (common sense) basics are:
Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. This should be your main focus. So often we think of a vegetable as a "side dish" to a meat protein. This is backwards! The nutritional benefits that come from food come primarily from these two groups. In fact, its hard to eat too much, so have at it.
Eat lean protein, in moderation. I know the Paleo Diet is all the fad right now, but the fact is, we eat a lot of meat in the U.S. Try cutting down on portion sizes - shoot for 6-8 ounces instead of 16!
Moderate processed grains, especially wheat. We have stripped the nutrition out of these. Eat whole grains when you do consume.
Stay away from processed foods. Eat food that is as near to its original form as possible. Once we corporate-ize our diets, who knows what goes in our bodies? If you see chemicals listed on a label, why eat it?
Stay away from fried foods and foods loaded in trans fats, salt and sugar.
Cut back or eliminate alcohol.
This is a tough one for me because I never have had good habits regarding this. However, I do like to run and I find that I am more productive and have much more energy when I do it regularly. Even if I add it to an already busy schedule, I find I get more done. The benefits are huge to longevity and the avoidance of modern diseases, such as diabetes.
If nothing else, walk more, park further from the door when shopping and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Small changes will lead to bigger gains over time. It will also greatly reduce your stress and flood your brain with positive chemicals.
4. Meditate or practice mindfulness
Just 10-15 minutes a day of sitting and focusing on nothing, just clearing the mind of all thought can lower stress and tension we are not aware of. Its refreshing and invigorating. There is a reason high achievers such as Warren Buffett and Tiger Woods practice meditation. It can provide the centering energy to make it through the day.
5. Practice good sleep hygiene
Put down the phone and tablet at night. Watching TV, reading Twitter etc., in bed will impact your sleep. Don't put your phone on the nightstand. Allow yourself to wind down closer to bed-time. Give your brain a change of pace and allow it to not have to process so much information.
6. Progressive relaxation
While I don't do this all of the time, it can help when you are having a hard time falling asleep. Start with your toes, flex them, then relax them. Progressively work up your body from your feet, to your legs to the top of your head. Try to all all parts of you to relax. Often I find I hold tension in my stomach, and when I relax, I can find myself sink into the bed.
7. Find ways to reduce stress
If you are stressed about something, try writing it down. Get it out of your head. Talk about what's bothering you with a friend or loved one. Acknowledging what is stressful often reduces its intensity. If you are getting good sleep, getting proper nutrition and exercising, you will find that your stress will go down over time.
8. Pare down your life
If you can, get rid of clutter, both in the physical, but also the mental. We surround ourselves with "stuff." Living more simplistically will also be less complicated. You may also find you save more money, which can also reduce stress. If you can get organized and be more efficient with your time, that will further reduce stress. Cut out activities that don't add to your well-being, but just fill time. Relax and slow down, and you will have more energy for the things that really matter.
9. See a doctor
I have the dual negatives of often having insomnia as well as Sleep Apnea, where I would stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. When I was breathing, I was snoring. Sleep Apnea puts tremendous wear on your heart, and ultimately can even lead to death. Look at Reggie White, a pro football player with the Packers and Eagles. He died just after his 43rd birthday due to sleep apnea and obstructive breathing disorders. Its nothing to mess around with, but it can be treated. Its amazing how much more soundly I sleep with a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. It may be inconvienient, but its worth it.
Also to note, if you are depressed, you are likely tired and more anxious. Our society doesn't often want to talk about depression, and it is more often than not, misunderstood. Talk to your doctor! He/she can help.
10. Get your mind right (no "stinkin' thinkin'")
We are surrounded by negativity through the media (yes, lets blame them!), and a 24-hour news cycle. This saps our energy and depresses our minds. By focusing on the present, being mindful and fully present, turning on music instead of news, a positive attitude can be fostered. Try writing a list of the things you are grateful for. You'll find your mood will improve. When you have a better attitude, you will have more energy.
I will note that I'm not a doctor. These practices in various forms have been exceedingly helpful to me. They are common sense, so there shouldn't be anything here that is earth shattering. Its just a reminder that we need to focus on ourselves. After all, don't we all want more energy, have less illness and a better attitude?
If you are feeling like your life isn't wear it should be, or where you want it to be, put these 10 areas to work for you. The changes will come quickly even with minor adjustments. Change can be difficult, especially when building new habits. But keep in mind if you are reading this, you want to improve your life, even in just boosting your energy.
If you want to boost your energy, take just one of these areas where you know you can improve and commit to the suggestions for it for just one week. If you know you don't get enough sleep (and the vast majority of people don't), try to get a solid 8 hours for one week. See how much of a difference it makes. That way, you don't have to take my word for it, you'll experience the benefits for yourself.
If you have any insight, feedback or you want to share your story, please email me. I would love to hear how you do.