We’re all busy, madly trying to figure out how to fit more in. The best approach to this isn’t finding more time in our day, however. We’re actually better off trying to find more energy.
Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Tejakula, a district in northern Bali. I was assisting at a meditation retreat – a great kind of holiday where I got to escape Sydney’s winter and teach yoga nidra in between sessions by the pool and in the sun.
During one of the sessions, my teacher discussed the yogic concept of prana—a form of energy similar to Chinese Medicine’s Qi (pronounced ‘chee’). She invited us to look deeper at the things that:
- Increase our energy levels
- Deplete our energy
- Sustain the energy we have.
By looking at the people, places, things, and activities that increase, deplete or sustain our energy, we got an insight into how we might be able to make our lives work better for us.
And the idea really resonated with me.
Imagine how much more energised we’d feel if we cut out draining people and energy-sapping projects from our lives.
Some of us get a buzz from spending lots of time with a big group of people. But others prefer more alone time, or to be with a small group of people in a more intimate setting. Some of us feel alive when working on big projects for big organisations, and others enjoy working on projects with small businesses. There’s no right or wrong, and one isn’t better than the other. They’re just different because we’re all different.
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As usually happens when a new idea hooks me, the universe conspired to bombard me with more information around the topic. One was this article from the Harvard Business Review, which Facebook kindly brought to my attention. It reiterates the idea of working with our energy systems, and explains ways we can do it on a physical, mental and emotional level.
Imagine devoting more time to the things that increase your energy:
- Taking a regular yoga class
- Committing to a weekly swim
- Going on a daily nature walk
- Having more time with loved ones.
Now imagine cutting out the stuff that depletes your energy:
- The boring job that pays well but doesn’t challenge you.
- The friend who always complains when you see them.
- The ice-cream binge that ends up making you feel blah.
It’s an interesting idea, and worth exploring what it actually means for you.
Think of how much energy you could put towards the people, places, things and activities you enjoy (not to mention the goals you want to achieve) by simply freeing yourself from the people, places, things and activities that deplete it.
Time is only limiting when we don’t have enough energy to make the most of it.
(Talk about an ‘Aha!’ moment.)
When I brought up this idea in a Facebook group, one person remarked: “I’ve realised that every time I say to someone, ‘I don’t have time to do x’, what I’m really saying is, ‘I don’t have the energy to do it’. It’s opened up a whole new way of thinking about it!”
10 easy life hacks to increase your energy
- Reclaim your lunch break: It’s far too common to have people eating their lunch at their desks (or worse, forgoing it all together). But the truth is, a good break makes us more productive. Taking your lunch break outside is even better.
- Socialise, but do it wisely: Ditch that friend who constantly complains, and consider spending time with the friend who inspires you. You’ll feel your energy lifted, rather than drained.
- Spend quality time with your furry friends: Pets lift our mood, reduce stress, and are great for our cardio health.
- Try yoga: Or any other mindful-based movement where you link your breath with movement.
- Get cooking: In the time you order fast food online and wait for it to be delivered you could have made yourself a quick and nutritious meal. The food you cook yourself is more likely to be lower in salt and fat, and include more nutrients from vegetables.
- Read (a real book): It’ll help you relax. And reading before bed can help put you to sleep.
- Exercise: But make sure you choose something you like. Walking is an excellent option. It’s easy to do, and you’ll get plenty of fresh air and vitamin D. It’s also renowned for clearing your head, and can help get the creative juices flowing.
- Take a regular dose of vitamin N(ature): Choose a time every week where you go for a bushwalk or hike. Even sitting by the ocean can do wonders for our moods. Time in nature helps us to de-stress and feel more connected.
- Sleep and screen: It seems obvious, but getting to bed earlier, even by 30 minutes, can make a big difference to how feel when you wake up. And switching off screens an hour before bed helps your body clock get ready for sleep.
- Meditation: Yep, it’s a buzzword. But it works. And no, you don’t have to sit in the lotus position and chant. There are many different types of meditation practices. Experiment with different styles until you find one that suits you. Some examples include walking meditation, mindfulness, focusing on your breath, repeating a mantra, or even a guided meditation.
It’s also worth remembering that achieving optimal energy levels isn’t a destination we get to. It’s a daily work in progress where we regularly need to check-in, assess and adjust accordingly. (Kind of like the elusive idea of balance, but that’s a whole other article.)
Do you have enough energy to achieve your goals? What’s giving you that energy? And if you’re struggling just to get through the day, what (or who) is draining your energy? I’d love to hear your thoughts.