In today’s business we manage our time, we manage our people, we manage our resources, we manage our finances and some people even manage their work-life balance. We have seminars, training courses and coaches to learn how to manage all of these and more. But few people know how to manage their energy, even though it is our most fundamental resource of all.
We are geared to non-stop productivity; we are required to deliver more and and more with better and better services; we are required to handle a rapidly increasing pace of life, an explosion in information and technology and constant change. If we want to maintain such high levels of performance we need to have an equivalent level of energy.
A Formula 1 car uses approximately 10 times as much fuel as an ordinary car in order to deliver its superior performance. And the fuel is specially blended to suit circuit and weather conditions. Our current methods of recharging our energy, such as food, sleep, TV, exercise and holidays are no longer enough. They supply us with a basic levels of energy suited to a basic quality of life but they are not sophisticated enough for the demands of today’s lifestyle.
Energy is our life force. It is the most important human resource of all. It is what makes the difference between being alive and dead, between health and sickness. When we are full of high quality energy we are healthy and happy and we can handle any challenge. When we lack energy it affects our concentration, communication, productivity, creativity, decision-making and much more.
Energy and health
Our energy level affects our health. If we run on low energy for too long we eventually become sick. We can stay healthy by keeping our energy balanced and learning how to recharge effectively and regularly.
The symptoms of stress act as an early warning system. They signal an imbalance between our energy and the current demands of our life. This is not a problem in the short-term. Being under pressure helps us to develop and become stronger. However long-term stress without recovery leads to ill-health and should be avoided.
There are two ways to reduce stress. You can reduce the demands on your life or you can increase your energy. Reducing the demand is usually the first and most common response to stress – “I’m doing too much, I need to cut down”. However this is rarely the most effective strategy as it leads to disappointment and dissatisfaction. Each time you reduce a demand you eliminate a challenge from your life.
Increasing your energy is a much more positive option as it allows you to handle more. This gives you the chance to increase your capacity and to manage a richer and more interesting life. You can face more challenges and you feel satisfied because you experience more, achieve more and enjoy life more.
How to increase your energy?
If you need more physical energy choose one or two of the options below and do them every day. Energy builds up over time through regularity and persistence.
► Get up early at the same time every day and go to sleep before 11pm. If you have problems sleeping it is better to relax before sleep, rather than read a book or watch television.
► Drink around 1⁄2 litre water when you get up. Drink plenty of water throughout the day especially in the morning. Avoid very cold/iced drinks.
► Take regular aerobic exercise to circulate energy around your body.
► Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Aim to eat a larger breakfast and lighter evening meal. Eat more warm/cooked food instead of cold/raw food.
► Avoid excessive use of alcohol and caffeine and cut out smoking as they are all stimulants that will increase stress and damage your energy.
If you often find yourself emotional there are some simple things you can do to make your life more peaceful and balanced.
► Relax or meditate for 30 minutes in the early morning.
► Talk about problems rather than keeping them inside, as talking releases blocked energy.
► Spend time with positive people and avoid people who are negative or depressed.
► Do something practical, physical and simple when you feel very emotional. It will help you calm down quickly, eg gardening, cleaning, running, walking the dog.
► If you’re experiencing a crisis or are feeling emotional, breathe into your stomach and lower belly. Breathe deeply, but not heavily.
If you want to be clearer and sharper mentally it is useful to make some simple alterations to the way you work.
► Clear your mind of any thoughts every morning and every evening before going to bed.
► Focus on one goal at a time so you can work effectively and efficiently.
► Minimise disruptions by doing work that requires concentration away from phones and e-mail.
► Reply to phone calls and e-mails at selected times of the day.
► Take brief but regular breaks away from your desk, if possible at 90-120 minute intervals.
When you have plenty of positive life energy you will be feeling ‘in the flow’ or riding the top of the wave. It is the most enjoyable way to live. Some simple changes will help you to take the first steps.
► Be happy and spend time with happy people.
► Spend time on the things that you value most.
► Consider all the good things in your life and be grateful.
► Express your appreciation for others.
► Developing and achieving an inspiring goal is the most powerful way of increasing life energy, but it requires a disciplined lifestyle and a lot of hard work. The inspiration of working on something you believe in provides a constant source of energy and motivation.
Lack of energy is the primary factor and cause for stress and affects your ability to manage multiple life demands. When you start to feel the symptoms of stress it is time to do something about your energy. The sooner you go into action the better. Preventing stress prevents later disease, unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Having a good level of energy makes you:
It gives you faith to be able to achieve whatever you want.