Energy, like time, is a precious and limited resource. However, unlike time, energy is renewable.
It can also be replenished throughout the day.
The key to achieving optimal efficiency? Managing your energy resources effectively.
Doing so can help you get more done in less time with a higher level of focused, sustained engagement.
Energy is utilized in two of the other intrinsic limited resources leaders have to allocate: focus and discipline.
Our bodies are designed to conserve energy at all costs, so we should consciously do the same to get the highest return on our energy resources.
This means conserving and replenishing our energy levels throughout the day.
If you feel drained at 2 p.m. every day, take a break instead of “pushing through.” A short nap, a refreshing walk in nature, or 20-minute meditation sessions can help you renew your energy. Think of it as stopping at a gas station to fill up your car with gas.
Here, we’ll explore five ways you can build energy and five ways you can lose it. By implementing these strategies, you can optimize your energy levels for peak performance.
5 Ways to Build Energy
Here are several rituals you can develop to help renew your energy supply (and use it wisely).
1. Prioritize Sleep
This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, but many people still neglect quality sleep and suffer the consequences for it. Sleep isn’t just a time for your body to rest properly, it’s a time for your brain and body to recover from the day.
During sleep, your body enters into a state of restoration, and you need restoration to maintain and increase your energy throughout the day. In fact, most people need seven to nine hours a night to remain fully functional.
Although nothing can replace quality sleep, naps can positively impact your neurobehavioral performance, and get you through the day following a bad night of sleep. You may find that you have more energy after a quick cat nap. However, don’t take a nap too late in the day or it may disrupt your sleep at night.
2. Optimize Your Nutrition
Eating healthy foods such as fruit, fish, yogurt, eggs, leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains can provide you with more energy throughout the day.
Contrary to popular belief, not all carbs are bad for you. While you should eat simple carbs in moderation (think white bread, refined pastas, pastries, and white rice), complex carbs (such as whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and lentils) can be an excellent source of energy. Not all carbs are created equal, though, and not everybody responds to carbs the same way.
Avoiding fast foods, overly processed foods, and added sugars will also help you preserve your energy levels. These foods often result in blood sugar spikes and, later on, blood sugar crashes.
3. Make Time for Exercise
When you exercise, you expend energy, but you also develop more energy over time. Exercising gives you endorphins and makes you stronger, and endorphins and strength give you more energy. If you have been training for a 5k race, for example, walking up the three flights of stairs to your office may not seem nearly as tedious.
Exercising also helps your organs deliver oxygen and nutrients to other areas of your body more efficiently. It improves your cardiovascular system, making your heart and lungs healthier.
4. Improve Your Flexibility
Flexibility can also enhance your energy levels. By stretching your muscles, you can help your body release tension and improve your mobility. Many people find that the act of stretching helps them become more in tune with their body. Stretching becomes increasingly important as people age and their flexibility naturally decreases.
To fuel your energy levels and prevent injury down the road, keep up with your stretching. A stretch first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. Stretching is especially important if you have a desk job.
5. Focus on Deep Breathing
Proper breathing is essential for survival and energy. Oxygen is carried in the bloodstream through breathing, and breathing is closely linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and relaxation. Focusing on deep, intentional breathing techniques can help you increase or decrease your energy levels as needed. By being mindful of your breathing throughout the day, you can tap into this powerful tool to optimize your energy and performance.
5 Ways You Lose Energy
Here are five ways you can unintentionally lose energy and sabotage your productivity.
1. Poor Nutrition
Eating a diet high in processed foods, added sugars, and unhealthy fats can lead to energy crashes and poor focus. Skipping meals or not eating enough can also drain your energy levels.
2. Investing Your Energy in a Career You Dislike
Working in a job that doesn’t align with your values, interests, or strengths can be mentally and emotionally draining. It’s essential to find a career that energizes and motivates you.
3. Breathing Shallowly
Breathing shallowly, without fully filling your lungs, can lead to reduced oxygen intake and lower energy levels.
4. Chronic Stress
Chronic stress can deplete your energy levels and lead to burnout. Stressful situations trigger the release of cortisol, a hormone that can interfere with sleep and drain your energy over time. Stress and anxiety can also contribute to the shallow breathing patterns we mentioned above.
5. Neglecting Physical Activity
Sitting for long periods, without regular breaks for movement and exercise, can lead to fatigue and reduced energy levels. A lack of physical activity can also contribute to poor sleep quality, which can further drain your energy reserves.
The Bottom Line
By implementing these five methods for building energy into your life — and preventing energy drains — you can start on the path toward living a more vibrant, energetic life
Remember that improving just one energy source can make a big difference, but optimizing as many sources as you can is the key to sustained energy and vitality. If you feel stuck in a cycle of low energy, don’t give up hope. With the right tools and resources, you can create more energy in your life. And as you take steps towards increasing your energy, you may find that it becomes easier and more natural over time. So, start small and keep building, and before you know it, you’ll be living your most energized life yet.
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