5 Ways to Hold on to Your Energy
Energy is a precious commodity. It's what we use to get things done, to work, to think, to get from A to B and to actively engage with our family and friends. When we are low on energy we don't achieve much and we don't feel so good about ourselves. So how can you look after your energy levels and avoid feeling washed out before you're halfway through the day?
The Energy Budget
Energy is like money, once it’s spent we have to earn more. We know that energy is earned by having a healthy diet and enough good quality rest, but what many of us remain unaware of is the fact that we may be squandering our energy, making bad energy investments, or hanging out with expensive company that will spend it fast and leave you with an energy debt.
Setting yourself an energy budget is a good way to keep your body running well without over taxing it.
Here are 5 ways to take care of your energy levels...
1. See Your Food as Fuel
- Eat for energy: focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains like rice, millet, barley and rye (link to 5 a day piece). Avoid canned or processed foods and meat. In Ayurveda these foods come under the category of tamas or darkness/ignorance, they are dulling to the body because they are low in vital energy (or prana) and, in the case of meat, which is derived from cruelty, the consciousness is negatively affected too. Meat is dulling to the mind and hinders our expression of compassion.
- Respect your digestion: sit down to eat, and chew your food slowly and thoroughly. The process of digestion begins in the mouth where the enzymes in your saliva get to work on the starches in your food. When you eat in a rush you hinder this vital process. And if you eat when you’re stressed, or upset, your body won’t be able to digest the meal properly at all.
To give your body a chance to convert what you eat into energy: sit and chew!
- Try Mindful Eating: eating slowly and consciously, and with gratitude makes eating a meditative experience that can help you digest what you eat both physically and mentally. Research shows that mindful eating helps the brain register a sense of satisfaction which naturally curbs over eating.
- Avoid Energy draining foods: caffeine and sugar both give a temporary burst of energy followed by a slump. It make take a little organisation to resist reaching for a quick coffee when you feel sluggish, but you will soon notice the benefits of choosing more efficient, and slower burning fuels. There are some good tips on this in Zen Habit’s 7 Food Hacks to Stay Alert Without Caffeine
2. Be Careful with Company
It's a sad but true fact that there are people around who can exhaust you in minutes. I'm sure you've met one. If you want to conserve your own precious energy you need to avoid getting caught up in tiring social exchanges whenever possible. It can take a little practice and experimentation to learn to slide by energy vampires in a way that won't offend or upset them, but it's well worth the effort.
Obligations and expectations can be exhausting too. Of course, sometimes it's the right thing to do to help someone out, but at other times you can find yourself being manoeuvred into a corner and it does not feel good. Read more in How to Stop Making Guilty Manoeuvres
3. Take Breaks to Recharge
Traffic, TV, video games, busy shops etc etc. These things are all energy drains; they busy your brain and cause mental and physical fatigue. To save energy avoid them when you can, and when you can't you can benefit from the simple art of going off-line for a while and recharging your batteries. Here are 3 quick and easy ways to take a few minutes out to unwind and restore:
- Learn a simple deep breathing technique (see Master Your Breath below...)
- Get Grounded: the Grounding Technique is a simple exercise for calming your mind after working on computers, or after long spells of driving. It’s also useful during breaks from repetitive tasks.
4. Master Your Breath
One of the biggest energy drains for busy people is the lack of awareness of their breath. When we are rushing about we tend to breath quick shallow breaths which don’t oxygenate our blood as efficiently as the simple act of drawing slower and deeper breaths. One of the simplest yet most effective ways of increasing your energy is to practice watching your breath. To start you could pick certain times or activities to monitor. For example, remind yourself when driving, or sitting at your desk, to drop your shoulders and deepen your breath. Over time you will get in the habit of checking more often and in other situations and you can learn to adjust your breath to relax tensions and draw more oxygen and vital energy in your body. You can read more on this in Your Breath as Medicine.
5. Master Your Emotions
Emotions equal energy in motion. Hot emotions like anger, irritability and frustration all burn your energy fast and anxiety literally worries away at your reserves. Learning a simple technique life Gary Craig's EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) is a good way to begin mastering your emotions and conserve your precious energy from being wasted on negative emotional states. Find out how to do EFT in this illustrated post.
Photo Credit: "Energy Ball" by jam343
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