I’m making my way through the six high performance habits, and the second one is generating energy. Taking care of our energy is so important because if you don’t have enough of it, how are you going to go after the things you want in life? Today I’ll touch on the three types of energy, dive deep on how to increase your mental energy, and share tips on how to spot (and prevent) burnout.
The High Performance Institute has studied how our energy levels impact our lives, and they show that energetic people are more likely to have a high level of success. They're also more likely to pursue education, be more creative, have better relationships, and be more assertive. And it makes sense; when you have more fuel, you go further and can do more. How energetic have you been feeling lately? Do you think you have enough?
When I think about energy, this is the first type that comes to mind. It’s also the most basic, because at its core, our physical energy stems from sleep, food, and movement. We all know these things, yet let them slide from time to time. If your physical energy is dragging these days, try these things:
Now, I said these things were the basics, but that doesn’t always mean it’s easy to stay consistent with them. Otherwise, we’d all be running around with plenty of energy all the time! This can be a great place to start when trying to increase your energy, because it will affect the other forms of energy as well. If this sounds like you, try this free Seven Day Wellness Challenge. You can do it any time you feel off balance, or when you want to get back to the basics.
Having positive and abundant emotional energy is one of the keys to happiness. We’ve all experienced feeling down sometimes, and not wanting to do much of anything - and then the opposite, where you’re happy and getting so much done. Did you know that, generally speaking, we’re responsible for the energy we bring to our day? Yes, it’s a choice - and there are a lot of ways to make that choice easier.
Try promoting positive energy by giving meaning to your day. What are you excited about for the day to come? What do you want to accomplish? One way to do this is by practicing gratitude. I start each day by listing the things I’m grateful for, and it really does change my emotional energy for the better. When you anticipate good things for the day ahead, your interactions will be better, and you’ll get more of what you expect.
Physical energy is about how our body feels. Emotional energy is about our mood and emotions. So what about our mental energy? This is our capacity to deal with stress. When we’re under stress, we're too overwhelmed to think clearly, make decisions, and be productive. It can also negatively impact our health and other forms of energy. So, how do you increase your mental energy? By learning to prevent and reduce stress.
I recently became aware that I needed to work on my own mental energy, thanks to a stiff neck. I hit a branch while riding my mountain bike about two months ago, and I’d been thinking that was the source of my neck pain. Yet it wasn’t getting better, despite stretching, doing some body work, and resting it. And then it hit me… this is a part of my body where I tend to hold my stress.
I made the connection thanks to a prompt from my EFT tapping app. It asked me to consider what might be creating stress in my life, and how I might be holding that stress in my body. Well, there’s that whole pandemic business, of course. But over the past year and a half, a lot of small to medium stresses had happened in my life that added up. I had also let my meditation practice lapse. My mental energy wasn’t great, and my physical energy was affected thanks to the stiff neck interfering with my sleep. I was also getting tension headaches.
The effects of unchecked stress can be serious, and include:
To avoid being completely knocked down by stress, look for the early warning signs that you need to increase your mental energy:
These are all ways that your body and mind are telling you that you need to take a break or relax, and it’s best for you to do so! This way, you can re-energize yourself and be more rational, focused, healthier, and well equipped to deal with what’s coming next. Even better than reacting to stress, however, is creating a routine so that you avoid burnout and low mental energy in the first place.
Since I became more aware of my stress levels, I’m trying to keep my morning meditation practice going. I’m also doing a tapping meditation before bed to help lower my cortisol levels and relax my body. I’ve also scheduled more breaks into my days. And while it may seem counterintuitive, relaxing and taking time out actually improves your productivity.
If you want to increase your mental energy, try the format that I use with my coaching clients. We look at creating daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly practices for relaxation. Even when I’m working with someone who finds it hard to take downtime, it doesn’t take them long to see the difference in their energy levels, concentration, and mood.
Daily. Try to schedule twenty minutes two or three times a day to relax. If that feels like too much at first, start with ten minutes and see how you feel. Some relaxing activities could be reading, writing, daydreaming, enjoying a cup of tea, puttering in the garden, or even closing your eyes and listening to music. We’re all different, so you may need to experiment to figure out what really helps you relax.
Weekly. Have you ever got to the end of the weekend, and felt frustrated because the weekend went by too fast, and you didn’t get everything (including downtime) that you wanted to? I encourage you to schedule a block of time to do something for you after a busy week. It could be as simple as a phone call with a friend, but choose something to help you relax and recoup.
Monthly/Quarterly/Yearly. I want you to make it routine to take time for yourself in more than small blocks of time. You work hard, and give a lot to others in your life. Try and plan something once a month, each quarter, and every year to really relax. It could be a monthly date night with your partner or with friends, a weekend away with family, a full-scale vacation… you know yourself best.
When you make these relaxation breaks a priority and schedule them, you have something to look forward to, it helps prevent burnout, and even gives you quality time with yourself or with others. I’m sure you’ve experienced an increase in creative or emotional energy, and in motivation and productivity after a break. That’s because you’re taking care of your mental energy!
I’d love to hear how you increase your mental energy, emotional energy, and physical energy - and I’m here if you are struggling, too. Send me a message through Instagram or Facebook, or email me anytime.
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