You need to energy to be successful. Your brain and the rest of your body run on energy. What happens in one part of you body impacts the rest of it. Mental exhaustion is really just physical exhaustion occurring in one part of your body. It saps the strength and energy from other parts. You might not think physical energy matters that much, especially if you are more intellectually oriented. But it matters and I think it matters a great deal.
This article is the first in a series that will be dedicated to helping you improve your energy. You will not escape the rat race or enjoy life if you are energy deficient. Energy level is a fundamental key to thriving and not just surviving. Take it from someone who knows. I have been chronically fatigued for much of my adult life. I’m turning it around big time, but I’m not all the way there yet.
You may know what to do to increase your success, but don’t feel you have the “time” or the energy to do it. This is pervasive in our modern fast-paced culture. Often people who don’t think they have time, really just don’t have the energy because lack of energy slows down their rate of action. Energetic people can get more done in a given amount of time. Increased energy then can in one sense give you more time to do the things you want to do.
I have a friend who we refer to as the Energizer Bunny. She is full of energy and she moves at least twice the speed of most people. She actually lives more life in her day than other people. You can take this too far and I’m a big believer in slowing down and living in the present (see Problems are Memories: How to Become Present, 10 Ways to Slow Down and Still Get Things Done, How To Relax And Why It’s So Important), but the two are not incompatible. When you want to act and when intense action is called for, having the energy to perform is critical.
While the impact your physical energy has on your overall success might be more obvious to those of us who have had or do have a significant deficits, we shouldn’t ignore the potential impact of increased energy to those who already have normal or even above normal levels of energy. Unless you are already super-energized, I think you would benefit greatly from increased energy no matter what your current level.
This series will focus on ways to increase your energy levels that I think are fairly universal and non-controversial. Keep in mind that when you use energy for one thing, such as digesting a big meal, you have less energy left for other activities.
This is the bad stress and includes any physical or mental stress that is bad for you. The best way to decrease distress is to avoid it. Here are some common sources of distress that you can reduce in order to increase your energy levels:
This is simple physics. Carrying around extra fat simply uses up more energy. If you don’t believe me just pick up a 50 pound weight and carry it around all day and see what happens to your energy levels. You wouldn’t do that so why do you carry extra body fat? Fat doesn’t do work. Lose fat, not muscle, and you will use less energy. Lose fat and gain energy to do those things that are important to you and your loved ones.
Eating Too Much at Once
Eating a lot of carbohydrates at once will cause blood sugar to spike and that will cause insulin to spike. Insulin causes a lot of damage to your body if it is chronically raised. Further the subsequent drop in blood sugar will make you feel tired and sluggish. Finally digesting a lot of food uses a lot of energy.
Not Eating Often Enough
Eating smaller meals more frequently will give your body a constant supply of nutrients, especially blood sugar, and allow you to maintain a much more constant source of energy.
Eating Refined Carbohydrates
These foods are killing you. I’m not just talking about refined sugar. Once your body turns any carbohydrate to glucose, it really doesn’t matter what it’s source. The important part is how much glucose it contains and how fast it is released into your blood stream. High GI foods like white flour, white rice, white potatoes, or other refined carbohydrates are just bad for you. You might as well be eating poison. When you restrict the candy your child can eat, but then give them a sandwich on white bread you are accomplishing nothing. In fact white bread may be worse than table sugar. If you want to know what the white deaths are doing to your and your family, read Vin’s excellent articles: How Sugar Can Ruin Your Life and How to Eliminate Sugar From Your Diet.
Lack of Sleep
When you sleep your body repairs itself and does a lot of other things. Sleep deprivation creates distress on your body by not allowing time for recovery. I have recently written a fairly long article on sleep that you can read: Sleep Your Way to Success. You can also check out Jonathan’s article: What is Your Brain Doing While You Are Sleeping?
I don’t think I need to spend much time on this one because we all know what stresses us, but I want to mention a couple of things.
- Negativity from others – Eliminate these people from your life or walk away from them when they get negative.
- Negativity from yourself – I’ve written about this in the following article and it is a huge factor: Positivity Leads to a Flourishing Life.
When you eliminate your own negative reactions you save tons of stress and thus energy. When I get mad I feel physically sick or drained. I simply can’t emphasize the importance of this enough.
The other topics in this article focused on avoiding or eliminating specific sources of stress. Aside from that, you can reduce overall stress by taking time to relax and practicing specific techniques of relaxation such as meditation or yoga.
I don’t have a source for yoga yet so if you know any good ones please add them in the comments. For meditation, Roger has a good series going: Meditation for Beginners (Week 1) – Introduction
This article from the Mayo Clinic contains tons of stress management information. I highly recommend it: Mayo Clinic Stress Management
Check out these other articles:
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