How often do you recharge your energy? Are you unknowingly draining yourself with work or life habits?
If you can’t make it through the day without feeling exhausted, tapped out, and foggy headed, this post is for you.
You may be surprised to learn that some of the things you’ve been taught about your mental, physical, and emotional energy are just plain ineffective. In this post, we’ll explore my third pillar of health, Recharge Your Energy.
It’s part of my series on the Core Four: the four-pillar framework that guides my wellness philosophy and informs my Harder to Kill Challenge.
Read the other posts in this series here:
See, there’s so much emphasis put on diet and exercise in this wellness world. And while those can each be an on-ramp to your health journey, they don’t make up the complete picture.
Time and time again, my clients and community tell me that they’re trying super hard with food and fitness but still not seeing results. Or they’re eating all the right things but feeling exhausted and stressed.
So here’s something that the diet and fitness gurus don’t want you to know: Neither of those is the sole solution for getting your health back on track. It takes a broader approach that you can be consistent with and sustain over time if you’re going to have lasting results.
If you lose 20 pounds this month but you’re stressed out, not sleeping, in a miserable mood, and then gain it all back because your eating plan is too restrictive and you hate life, what’s the fkn point?!
It’s time to end that cycle. Let’s dive into the next pillar:
What Does it Mean to Recharge Your Energy?
It’s probably not surprising, but feeling better in your body, enjoying stable energy levels, and feeling rested are all multifactorial. Lacking energy could be due to food (too little, too much, quality issues, difficulty digesting, etc); exercise (too little, too much, the wrong type for your current health status, etc); and your mindset (self-perceptions, negative self-talk, lack of self-compassion, etc).
That being said, I’ve had many clients who realize that addressing how they manage their energy directly is key. Hustling until you’ve got nothing left in the tank is a common theme.
You – probably much to your chagrin – are not a machine who can run indefinitely without periods of rest and recovery. If you believe you can do this and you feel great despite running your tank dry, I’d love to talk to you in 6 months, a year, even two years time. Come back and let me know how it’s going.
(Some clients tell me that they need stress to keep going…and that’s usually when we have to sit down for a heart-to-heart about what elevated cortisol levels over the long-term do to blood sugar.)
As biological beings, cycles and rhythms govern us. The best known is probably circadian rhythm, our internal clock. The problem is that our modern environments set us up to hook into vast stretches of work and “being on.” Worldwide markets, artificial light, and the irresistible nature of technology (hello, endless scroll) are just a few of the things keeping us from unplugging, resting, and renewing ourselves.
If you want to recharge your energy, it’s going to take stepping outside the norm and advocating for yourself.
Most people simply cannot continue to borrow from their energy account without making regular deposits.
Recharging your energy means strategies and practices related to:
What happens during your work day / waking hours;
Managing your stress; and
Dialing in your sleep.
In the Harder to Kill Challenge, we cover these three areas with actionable strategies for recharging more effectively and more often. It’s one of the pillars people most frequently say they want to put more focus on. That goes those that have been around the ancestral / real food / paleo / Weston A. Price community for a while.
Again, the emphasis on food and fitness isn’t bad…it’s just not the whole picture.
Energy During Your Work Day
I cover these four pillars in detail in both my small group coaching program and my upcoming book (May 2019), so I don’t want to tumble too far down the rabbit hole on this brief introduction.
Suffice to say, the modern workplace is set up in ways that make it hard to recharge your energy.
Multitasking, long hours without breaks, and even the physical set-up of your work environment (ex: lack of natural light, no opportunity to move or change position, air quality, etc.) could be seriously draining your energy.
Now, I’m not saying that you’ll always have the opportunity to do things differently. But by making small, subtle shifts, you may be able to recharge your energy a bit more. One suggestion: If you have a sedentary and/or mentally taxing job, go for a walk, get away from the computer, and don’t answer emails on your breaks.
Manage Your Stress
Next, a stress-free life may be something you dream about, but it’s unlikely to be a reality for most people. And to an extent, some exposure to stress actually causes us to get stronger. Google “hormetic stressors” to dive into that world. Anything from cold exposure to exercise to fasting can be beneficial hormetic stressors. These exposures must be punctuated and followed by appropriate recovery.
Chronic stress – physical, emotional, and mental – is quite a different story. Note that stressors can include real or perceived stress of a physical or psychological nature. What’s more, chronically elevated stress levels are linked to conditions such as impaired immunity (ex: getting sick a lot), high blood pressure, insomnia, blood sugar dysregulation, anxiety, and more.
Learning to identify chronic stressors and taking steps to reduce or mitigate them matters. Eating a nourishing, whole foods diet, using exercise appropriately, getting restful sleep, and forging strong interpersonal connections can go a long way. But also consider stress reduction practices like gentle / restorative yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, or journaling.
And one other important note: There is no shame in seeking coaching or therapy for chronic or unmanageable stress.
Dialing in Your Sleep
Remember that to recharge your energy, you’ve got to consider that it’s a day + night equation.
Sleep hygiene matters. Yes. Most people I know, myself included, could do a little better in that area. Some things you can do: limit blue light exposure after dark, sleep with your phone in another room, block out ambient light, and control the temperature.
Recently, I did a live broadcast where I talk about energy vampires related to sleep so be sure to check that out.
Beyond sleep hygiene though, I know sleep is a sore subject for many. Taking care of an infant, years of insomnia, and shift work can make getting a restful night sleep nearly impossible. To that end, look outside the bedroom at other factors like nutrition and stress for common culprits. If you’ve got little ones, do the best you can. Improve sleep hygiene, and try not to put too much pressure on yourself to exercise intensely, for example, when you’re already sleep deprived.
Takeaways About This Pillar
Like the other pillars, these lifestyle changes have to unfold on your own timeline when you’re ready. Nobody gets all of this right 100% of the time. However, consider tweaking something you’re already doing or looking for the simple win. (Wearing blue blocking glasses like these after dark is one of my favorite easy wins.)
Nobody will protect your energy for you. Fill your cup often, even in small ways, so that you have enough to give the people in your life who matter most.
And remember to learn more about the Harder to Kill Challenge here.
Read the other posts in this series: