“Help! There’s a lot I’d like to do, but I’ve run out of gas. What can I do?” Lack of energy or exhaustion is a problem that is holding many people back. Energy is the fuel that powers our drive to get things done; constant bouts of exhaustion are the brakes that bring our progress to a halt. So, much is at stake here. Our physical, psychological, and spiritual well-being need high levels of energy. If we wish to reach our potential, it’s a subject we must pay attention to. What follows is a glimpse at some of the causes of a lack of energy and some of the methods to develop more energy.
What douses the flames of energy?
Are you wiped out by work? The fatigue that we associate with work often has little to do with it and much to do with a negative attitude. That is, the culprits are not a demanding boss and uncooperative coworkers, but negative emotions. Resentment, impatience, anger, anxiety, envy, fear, and other negative feelings gnaw away at us throughout the day, draining us of all our energy. No wonder we’re exhausted. We’ve got to turn our attitude around. We’ll regain much of our lost energy as soon as we start to appreciate what we have, begin to help those around us, and focus on improving ourselves instead of the workplace. Also, it is not the work we do, but the work we don’t do that causes exhaustion! In other words, when we do our job, we feel exhilarated, or energetic. But when we procrastinate, we experience guilt, regret, and fear of the future consequences. The result? Stress, or lack of energy.
If you’re staying up most of the night partying or hanging out with friends, your body will not have enough time to rejuvenate itself. Lack of sleep is a major cause of fatigue. It’s a problem that’s easy to fix. Get enough sleep! If it’s fun you’re looking for, get a life. A life full of energy!
It takes 50% of our energy to digest a meal of fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts. If our meal consists of cooked and processed foods, our body will direct about 80% of its energy toward digestion. Heavy meals, with fat and sugar, can take up to fourteen hours to digest, forcing your body to work all through the night and early hours of the morning. No wonder you’re not full of energy after a night’s sleep. So, if you eat more raw fruits and vegetables and less fat and sugar you’ll regain some of that lost energy. Overeating is a double attack on the body’s limited resources of energy. Not only does it cause the body to work overtime digesting food, but the extra weight that we have to carry throughout the day saps even more energy.
We also need to avoid trying to do too much at one time. By spreading our limited resources of energy over many tasks, none of them receive enough attention, resulting in stress. Far better to do a few things well than many poorly. When we prioritize our tasks and devote our energy on the important matters, we will accomplish more. And those accomplishments will boost our energy.
What fans the flames of energy?
The benefits of working out in the gym, walking to work, or climbing stairs are too numerous to ignore. Exercise creates energy, improves our health, and builds self-discipline and self-esteem. The message is clear: we need to get off our buts and exercise!
All athletes are familiar with the “high” they achieve after strenuous exercise. It allows them to continue past the point of exhaustion. What is true in sports is also true in other areas of life. If we persist in a grueling task, despite the enormous outlay of energy, we will experience a “second wind,” and find that we can do even more. William James explains, “If an unusual necessity forces us onward, a surprising thing occurs. The fatigue gets worse up to a certain point, when, gradually or suddenly, it passes away and we are fresher than before! We have evidently tapped a new level of energy. There may be layer after layer of this experience, a third and fourth ‘wind.’ We find amounts of ease and power that we never dreamed ourselves to own, sources of strength habitually not taxed, because habitually we never push through the obstruction of fatigue.”
Good posture and proper breathing are key elements in maximizing energy. Holding the phone with our shoulder and neck instead of our hand, slouching, and poor posture, cause muscle strain, draining energy. Also, if we do not sit properly, we do not breathe properly. Shallow, “chest breathing” can reduce our oxygen intake by up to 33%. We need to use our diaphragm when we breathe. That is, our stomach should go out when we inhale and in when we exhale. Proper breathing increases energy.
A deep breathing or meditative exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and increase energy. Try this exercise: Sit comfortably with eyes closed while maintaining good posture and fill your lungs with oxygen by inhaling slowly through your nose. Allow the oxygen to travel throughout your body by holding your breath four or five seconds. Slowly exhale. Then, hold your breath 3 or 4 seconds, dissipating stress. Repeat this eight or nine times to complete one set of deep breathing exercises. Three or four sets a day will help to keep your energy level high.
If you’re working at a desk most of the day, be sure to get up often and take 15 ~ 20-second breaks. Stretch, get the blood flowing, take a deep breath, relish the moment, smile, and get back to work. More than a caffeine break, you need an energy break.
Our body is mostly made of water. We need plenty of it to preserve our energy. Not all liquids are helpful. Coffee and alcohol, for example, are diuretics. That is, they cause you to lose more fluids than you gain. You may want to drink bottled or filtered water, but even plain tap water is better than no water. Many of the problems we experience, such as headaches, are caused by dehydration. So, drink water throughout the day to maintain optimum well-being and energy.
Perhaps the above information, though limited, is enough to get us to reevaluate our priorities and set out on the road of high-energy living. After all, a life without energy can hardly be called living. Well, pardon me as I leave for a cup of coffee. Whoops, I mean a glass of carrot juice!