Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants – Michael Pollan
I have been really suffering lately from a complete lack of energy.
At first I thought it was the fall out from the rather busy holiday we recently took, then I thought perhaps it was the cold I’d managed to catch when I got back, or maybe it was because I was just doing too much (or too little)…
In the end it could have been a culmination of those things, and not least because it’s also winter!
What ever the issue may be I have to say I was getting fed up with it.
Waking each day more tired than I went to sleep. Having fitful sleep. Usually having a deep sleep before midnight, waking up and spending the next 2,3, 4 four hours clock watching followed by a day of drinking enough tea and coffee to sink a fleet of ships. Stop and repeat.
It’s odd because before Christmas I’d felt good. Running 6-10k per week, eating well, spending time outside, walking, and generally being very productive.
So what changed?
I was thinking about this for quite some time, over one sleepless night and another, and eventually it appeared to come down to two main things:
Before Christmas I had both, and then Christmas came, then the holiday and finally the re-adjusting back into a routine. Only I couldn’t get into a routine because I had completely lost all of my good habits by then.
I am a believer of having good habits. Habits don’t hinder time when they are the right types of habits, they actually increase productivity, and make me get the best out of life.
While habits might not be for everyone they certainly have worked for me over the last couple of years.
Same with routine. You might be thinking, as I once did, that routines must be a pain.
Who wants to be subjected to a routine when we’re already tied to so many other areas in our lives. But having a solid routine means all the challenges of making the little/boring/mundane decisions, that improve your life, are taken away from you so you can concentrate on all the good stuff like being creative or spending more time with the people you love.
Now obviously, as I’ve just experienced, both the above are great until either or both get scrambled. In some circumstances routines and habits have to get chucked out of the window because time is tight, or something unexpected came up. Or like me, you go on holiday and think you can just break the routine because after all it’s only a couple of weeks.
However that one day can turn into a week, which turns into a month, and then all of a sudden you realise you no longer have the energy or enthusiasm for anything.
Wrong mind set
Picking up both my routine and habits again has been hard because both form such a fundamental part of me being either happily active or alternatively – a big lump on the settee.
So what are these habits and routines that give me more energy? All the usual’s of:
- Eat healthy
- Get plenty of exercise
- Sleep well
But this aren’t really definitive habits and if I ever want to keep them up they need to be easy to maintain.
From experience I know it’s much easier to build one habit, get it going, keep it going and then continue that habit until I’m doing it without even thinking about it. Then start another habit. Rather than try a whole bunch of habits all at the same time.
Unfortunately due to my break some of my habits which form some routines have been broken so I need to build them up again.
10 ways to increase energy
- Eating whole foods only (fresh meat, veggies, fruit, nuts).
- Cut down on sugar
- Cut down on the caffeine
- Spend three minutes every morning in positive and grateful thoughts (it sounds corny but it works!)
- Switch all electronics off at least two hours before bed time
- Get outside, in the daylight, for at least 20 minutes every single day.
- Go for a 20 minute walk every single day or do at least 20 minutes of any exercise that is enjoyable.
- Building iodine levels up again
- Read more, less TV, less social media.
- Drink more water
To make it more simple I needed to ensure these are habits I can stick to, so for instance the eating whole foods means planning meals and being more mindful around a supermarket. For sugar reduction it has meant replacing one of my three sugar ladled drinks down to two (replacing the third with herbal/water).
Remembering that any bad habits need to always be replaced with good ones. So less TV and social media means more time to go outside.
Finally, to ensure the habits stick I need to have a routine that means the habits are incorporated really easily so I don’t have to even remember doing them.
To do that I’ve created a morning and evening routine. One gives me the time to incorporate exercise, cut down on the caffeine and think good positive thoughts. The other allows me to read more and go for walks.
Of course the routines aren’t perfect and I don’t expect to stick to them religiously. There will be days when I drop off the habit treadmill but 1 bad day is better than four weeks!
I must say that having purposely started this just over a week ago I can honestly say I’m sleeping better which means I’ve already got more energy. Coupled with the reduction in coffee and sugar my body already feels tons better. So who am I to argue!
Best bit is these aren’t hard things to maintain, nor do I feel constricted by them. They are simply there to help me feel tip top. More importantly I’m giving my body some much required respect!
With more energy I can be a better person, a better partner, a better daughter, a better worker. Ready for anything!
How are you feeling today?
Photo courtesy of José Feliciano Cerdeño