We’re all trying to juggle so much. The 8 a.m. meeting. The 7 p.m. dinner reservation. Picking the kids up from soccer practice at 5. Keeping the house habitable. And everything else that’s on our never-ending to do list.
You just keep going and going and going… like the Energizer Bunny. Until you hit a wall. And that’s exactly what happened to me last weekend.
So, what did I do? I called a time-out so I could have a little quiet time. For me, that means taking a break from technology, napping in the afternoon, and doing something fun or that makes me feel good. Like a massage, or going for a hike in the hills. It also means putting my to-do list aside for a day and giving myself permission to do nothing if I don’t feel like it.
I know you’ve probably experienced the same thing, and I wanted to share some simple tips to boost your energy and recharge.
1. Turn off the tube
When you’re exhausted after a long day, plopping down on the couch for a dose of Friends reruns may seem like the ideal solution. But, TV may not be as restful an activity as you think. In fact, television itself can be tiring, and the older you get, the fewer and fewer stress-reducing benefits you get from a session with the boob tube, a University of California, San Diego study says. Instead of numbing your mind as a way to rejuvenate, stimulate it. Try taking a walk along a scenic trail. Spending time in nature can help restore your energy and focus. Curling up with a good book for 30 minutes or an hour also works.
2. Look at your plate
The food on your plate can be the deciding factor between a sluggish and a supercharged day. A few small adjustments can go a long way toward optimizing your energy intake. Like not waiting too long between meals. Ideally, you would not wait longer than four hours between meals. And swapping simple carbs like those primarily made of white flour and sugar, for complex carbs like sweet potatoes, oats and whole grain bread. Both of these are great energy strategies because they help keep your blood glucose levels steady throughout the day. You don’t want to be on the glucose roller coaster. Once you spike it, you go through the inevitable crash and the cycle starts all over again. And both of these are included in the 10 “food rules” that are part of my new program, Flat & Happy . It’s the ultimate program to help you get a flatter belly and it’s coming soon. I can’t wait to share more details with you over the next few weeks.
3. Stick to your workout routine
Expending energy on exercise actually creates MORE for you to use. That’s because exercise releases a flood of chemicals in your brain, like dopamine, that create feelings of greater energy. Maximize that feel-good response by getting at least 30 minutes of cardio four or five times a week and at least two, 30-45 minute muscle-strengthening sessions each week. Yoga can also be restorative because of the type of deep breathing that’s incorporated into it.
Don’t have a workout routine? Or haven’t worked up a sweat in a while? It’s time to get moving! Try one of these great routines.
4. Put on some music
Music can give you a boost mentally and physically. Research shows it can reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and decrease stress hormones, and that it may increase feel-good hormones like exercise does. Music + exercise? Even better! Can you think of any songs that just make you smile, or lift you up or make you want to get up and dance? Make a playlist of those and put it on every time you need a boost. Or, if you prefer more mellow music to help you relax and recharge, make a playlist of those types of songs. I have a long one called “Unwind” that I use every week.
5. Unplug from technology
Technology is great for keeping us connected and managing our to-do lists. But the problem with always being connected is that you’re always connected. Which means that it’s much harder for you to separate your week from your weekend, or your workday from your evening. We need down time. When you don’t get enough, it can completely drain your energy, unravel your relationships, stymie your stress recovery and ultimately ruin your productivity, research suggests.
Not only can your devices drain your energy, they can also drain away time you could be spending doing other awesome stuff (like sleeping in, connecting with friends, or spending time with family). Can you go a day without getting on the computer, without picking up the iPad, and without constantly checking your phone? And did you ever notice how we’re sort of like Pavlov’s dog when we hear the ping of our device? We HAVE to check–we can’t help it! If you can’t leave your phone at home or in the car, one of my favorite tricks is to put it on silent so I’m not tempted to check it every time I hear the ping. Here’s a great article on why unplugging is good for our mental health.
6. Find ways to de-stress
It’s ironic that one of the biggest energy consumers of our day has nothing to do with packed schedules or sweaty workouts. Little everyday stressors, like sitting in traffic, can cause a total energy meltdown. Not at first, because your initial reaction to stress is that your body starts pumping the hormone cortisol into your bloodstream, giving you an adrenaline rush. Your heart rate rises, your muscles tense, and your mind goes on high alert. But the rush is unsustainable, and before long your energy starts to crash, leaving you feeling foggy and unfocused. Plus, when stress is always present, your body can’t get rid of the excess cortisol that builds up in your blood. It hangs around-sort of like the houseguest that won’t leave-turning your young fat cells into mature fat cells that stay with you forever . That excess cortisol can also increase your cravings for high-fat, high-carb foods because they cause chemical releases in the brain that make you feel good and counteract the stress side effects. Check out these tips to stress less.
Which tips sound like something you will try the next time you’re feeling low on energy or like you’re about to hit the wall? I’d love to hear what you tried and how it worked for you.
If you have favorite tips to share, I’d love to hear those, too! Share them by email, on Facebook or in the comments on the blog.