Have you practiced saying “no” to more things this last week? Is that habit making your life more focused and productive? How has saying “no” impacted your energy? If saying no has allowed you to more successfully structure a productive day then you should be making fewer daily or hourly decisions, and thus you should have more energy. Right? I hope so!
Well, there’s more to maintaining a high energy level than just reducing the number of decisions you make in a day. Other elements that are required for a high energy level include nourishment, hydration, sleep, oxygen, and exercise.
I’ve been a high-energy person all of my life so you can imagine my surprise to learn, years ago, that I was hypothyroid. That couldn’t be! Hypothyroid people are low energy, aren’t they? Evidently, that’s not always true. Genetics and role-modeling explains some of my high energy, but not all.
Here is more detail about the things I’ve learned from experience and observed in others about living a high-energy life. Be willing to try each of these suggestions, rather than dismiss any of them out of hand, to really explore what these elements can do for you — individually and together.
Nourishment is an obvious element for a high energy life. It’s the highly processed, sugary, chemically-laden “food-like-substances” that drain your energy. Nourishment is fuel for you, as gasoline is a fuel is for your car. Is your car particular about the kind of fuel you fill it with? Can you put diesel, premium, standard, ethanol, or even natural gas in it? No, you can’t. Your car can’t burn beer cans, ala Back To The Future fuels, either. Different engines require different fuels, but they all have specific requirements to run efficiently and smoothly. Humans are the same. When you fuel your body with healthy options your body runs smoothly and efficiently, as your car does.
What’re healthy food options? Whole foods. Clean foods – also known as unprocessed and organic. Well portioned foods so you aren’t eating too much. Your plate should be 60-80 percent vegetable matter and 20-40 percent protein for the best nourishment. And the plate should be colorful so you are ensured a broad nutrition.
You need to stay hydrated. Benefits of a well-hydrated body that relate to your energy include oxygenated blood and vital organs, nourished and lubricated muscles and joints, improved cardiovascular health, and increased endurance. Bonus benefits include mood enhancement, lower stress, supple and glowing skin, healthy kidneys and urinary tract, and better oral hygiene. We know why we want to hydrate.
The next question is what counts towards hydration? Water surely does. But, lots of people think that water is boring so they turn to other beverages. I don’t have a problem with that, but some of those beverages are filled with sugar and chemicals, and some of those beverages have diuretic properties. Those choices, like soda and coffee, are somewhat counterproductive toward hydration, maybe raising the need for even more water in your life.
The base amount of water to be consumed daily is 64 ounces, though your mileage may vary depending on your activity level, age and size. I believe that water is the way to hydrate, not other beverages. To stay more energized, drink your 64 ounces of water, and then enjoy the beverages that tickle your fancy.
Sleep is an obvious energy booster. Seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night is optimal for mental health and sharpness, and for physical health. Your brain “washes” itself from a day of activity at night as you sleep, and it needs at least seven hours to do that. Your immune system is boosted by your sleep, and seven to eight hours is ideal. And, your overall health — heart, digestion, weight, lungs — are all improved with a healthy sleep plan of seven to eight hours nightly.
You may get by on less sleep than that each night, but getting by is a habit that builds toward a “crash-and-burn” scenario. You won’t have the health reserves to ward-off disease and inflammation if you habitually sleep less than seven hours. Getting by on less sleep tends to mean you are getting by on less mental acuity, too, which means you may be making poor decisions and being less attentive to things in general.
“O’s are good” was one of the mantras I learned in EMT school (I’ll teach you the others along the way, if you’re lucky). That was a reminder that boosting any patient’s oxygen level will help them feel better, regardless of how bad they feel. Oxygen fuels the heart and the brain, as well as any place your blood flows. Oxygen is what it takes to be energetic.
When you have been stationary too long your body gets oxygen depleted. Two ways to improve your body’s oxygen levels are to exercise daily and move frequently. The best trick I’ve learned and coached my clients on is moving frequently; every 50 minutes, take a 10 minute break to hydrate, grab some fresh air, and sneak in some stretching to refresh your muscles. Use your smartphone or watch, or even a free-standing timer, to remind you to get up and move every 50 minutes (I even go so far as to remind myself to get back to work with an alarm).
Exercise strengthens the heart muscle, the circulation system, and the lungs. The stronger you become, the more energy you have. The combination of high mental and physical energy, combined with low physical tension — like a moderately paced 15-20 minute walk, stretching exercises like yoga, and resistance strength training — creates the best energy level. An intense workout may initially be fatiguing, but you may find, a few hours after that kind of workout, your energy level rise and sustain you.
Research has shown that an exercise regime of low-to-moderate intensity leads to more energy and less fatigue. Why? Because the blood flow is increased, and that takes oxygen and nutrients through the body, prompting the energy factories in the body to generate more energy. Want to increase your energy level by 20 percent? Exercise at least 20 minutes daily in a low-intensity workout, or an average of 10 minutes daily in a vigorous-intensity workout for more physically fit adults, and increase your energy while you decrease your fatigue.
You want more energy, and sustained energy through the day? Then tend to your nourishment, hydration, sleep, oxygen, and exercise and get more done with energy to spare.
Next week I’ll cover another energy drain — distractions.