Energy: 12 Ways to Live Abundantly
How to Take Charge of Your Energy Level
Which is more valuable, time or money?
Many would say time. You can’t earn more, find it, sock it away for later, or create it.
And, as much as we try, we can’t steal it.
However, there is a third commodity that is more precious than both – it’s energy.
If we have low energy, it doesn’t matter how many hours stretch out in front of us or how much money we can throw at a problem.
You know the saying, “There’s more month at the end of my money”?
How about, “There are more do’s at the end of my day”?
Moms know this one first hand.
Below are 12 necessary areas for living a high-energy life.
All 12 are equally important. If one area is lacking, the others will suffer.
I know if I’m at odds with my husband, no amount of kale will put a bounce in my step. And it’s hard to focus on spiritual growth when you have a dehydration headache.
Moms are the hub of the home. If we are at the end of our rope – mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually – it’s going to effect the rest of the family.
If we want to create a life worth remembering we have to keep ourselves fit in every sense of the word.
Giving love, nurture and direction to a family requires a full tank.
12 Keys to a High-Energy Life
First we sleep.
Centers for Disease Control claim that sleep deprivation is a public health epidemic. Often we discount the importance of sleep and wave away the lack of it as a badge of honor.
This does us, and everyone around us, a disservice.
At best, not getting enough sleep brings out the kraken in most people; crabbiness, brain fog, lack of motivation – not the marks of a super mom.
Worse, when it comes to driving, sleep deprivation has been shown to have the same effect as drinking alcohol. Would you knock a few back before driving your kids to soccer practice?
And here’s a scary thought. Did you know that sleeping less than 8 hours a day has been linked to obesity? Yep, it’s harder to lose weight when we don’t sleep enough. Some research shows that belly fat is more likely to pile up when we aren’t getting good sleep.
Makes you want to take a nap, doesn’t it?
Water is the closet thing to a magic energy elixir you will ever find.
It touts dozens of benefits from disease prevention to clear thinking, plus it’s free!
There is debate on how much water we need and where it should come from. Generally, it’s recommended we drink 8 glasses a day – or 64 ounces. If you exercise, live in a dry climate, are sick, or it’s hot out, it’s a good idea to add a few more glasses.
Does coffee, fruit, soup… count?
Maybe, but I know myself and if I decided lattes counted in my daily water quota it wouldn’t be pretty. So I’ve decided to be a purest. 8 glasses of plain water, no grey area.
Steve Kamb at Nerd Fitness wrote a thought-provoking post on all things hydration. He tackles the ‘how much’ water debate in detail.
Find a water container that speaks to you.
I use a quart canning jar from Canada. One side is stamped with English and the other side is in French. Somehow this makes the water taste better.
Regular fuel is the minimum.
When my girls danced in The Nutcracker we had some intense weeks of rehearsal and performance. A few of the backstage moms thought it was a virtue to go without food for long periods of time. They would boast about not eating all day or how they were surviving on candy bars. Personally, I’m not amused by hangry, snippy people with low blood sugar and I had an overwhelming urge to shove a protein bar in their mouths. Do everyone a favor and eat a few calories on a regular basis.
Are you seeing a theme? The way we care for ourselves effects EVERYONE.
Our family did a Whole 30 reset a few months ago. The basic idea is to eliminate foods that are common triggers for sensitivity. Clearing out sugar addiction is at the top of the Whole 30 hit list.
We found out just how debilitating sugar is – especially to our energy level and brain function. After eliminating all sugar for 30 days, that first bowl of ice cream made us feel like we had been hit by a truck.
When low-quality food is the standard we don’t realize the impact it’s having – feeling ‘meh’ becomes the norm.
Healthy food feeds our cells and provides energy. Junk food steals energy as our bodies fight to process the toxins and faux nutrients.
You know the drill; lots of vegetables, fruit, lean proteins, healthy fats…real food.
Notice I didn’t say exercise.
It’s not an all or nothing thing.
Yes, 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity, with some strength exercises and attention to flexibility is optimal. Or so the experts say.
But nothing, done perfectly, is still nothing.
There are dozens of ways to slip bursts of activity into the most time-pressed day.
Especially when we have small children, finding 60 minutes all strung together can be a serious challenge. Instead think in 5 or 10 minutes blocks and add a little here and a little there throughout the day.
A bonus is that exercise that looks like play also boosts our mood. Imagine kicking a soccer ball around with a 4-year-old as opposed to running on the treadmill. Which is more likely to bring a smile to your face? Playing with our children can provide the best of both worlds – quality time and activity.
If you can squeeze in a “real” exercise session, great, go for it! Otherwise, just get moving.
I spent way too much time when my kiddos were little lamenting that I didn’t have time to do exercise perfectly.
We need people.
I’m going to assume, since I’m writing to moms, that you’re covered in the people department.
But are your relationships in harmony?
Strife, anger, bitterness and unresolved conflict are soul-sucking.
Some people go into a frenzy of activity when they’re angry.
The quickest way to get my garage cleaned out is to pick a fight with my husband. But even a clean garage is not worth the fallout. When I have a strained relationship with someone, I’m good for Brady Bunch re-runs and that’s about it. Productive? No.
Take the pulse of your important relationships.
Is your marriage in need of attention?
Are there sticking points with your children that could use some character development?
Are you clear with the extended family?
When is the next time you will hang out with good friends, laughing and sharing life?
Loving, supportive people – to give to and receive from – are vital to our energy.
Doing something we enjoy, that stays done, is important to our outlook on life.
When my kids were small I desperately needed this. Author, Edith Schaeffer, suggests that having nothing creative to do saps our incentive as much as having too much to do.
It’s better to have something we enjoy lined up, even if we can’t get to it every day.
I think of this as drying up. When I don’t have time to work on some type of forward thinking project, or at least read, my soul dries up.
I know, it can be frustrating to have a project and not make progress on it. The trick is to break it down into micro-tasks.
Sure, we might love to sit at the machine and finish a quilt in a day, but one or two seams each afternoon is forward motion. Maybe for you its finishing a chapter in a book or planting some flowers in the garden.
Even 15 minutes a day feeds the brain cells.
Running a family comes with built-in meaning.
Still, sometimes, we miss the bigger connection between the repetitive daily tasks and that big vision.
The voice in our heads says, “This is what I went to college for, to pick up Legos?” or my personal favorite, “My life has been reduced to driving people places to watch them do things.” Pity party, here I come.
Imagine you did not have a reason to do “xyz” boring chore, for some unthinkable reason. Wouldn’t you give anything to pick up a child’s sock or mop up gunk under the high chair…?
Are the other activities in your life giving you a sense of contribution?
It’s easy to pile on obligations until we are doing, doing, doing. Is there anything you need to drop, change or shift in your life to bring it into balance?
8. Get Your Act Together:
Being a hot mess all the time is a big energy zapper.
It’s not very exciting to clear up and clean up. But, basic organization is worth the time and effort.
Simple things; being on time, not forgetting appointments, having clean laundry, knowing what’s for dinner, being able to find a pair of scissors when you need them make for smooth days.
When normal life is full of little frictions it wears us down and spills our precious energy.
9. Soul Time:
For me, this means making time in the day to read my bible, pray, and give thanks for my blessings. Spending some time each week with my faith community is also vital.
When I don’t do those things, it gets ugly, fast. My heart starts to look like the Grinch’s before photo.
Alone time is good for us too.
Ideally, we will have a sliver of time alone each day to recharge.
If you are home with your children teaching them to respect a quiet hour is good for everyone. It restores equilibrium. Once children stop taking naps they can learn to quietly entertain themselves for an hour, it’s a lifelong skill.
This is ‘filling the tank’ time.
What grounds you and fills your tank?
I read a fascinating book called ‘The Upside of Stress. Why Stress is Good For You and How to Get Good At It’ by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
To grossly oversimplify the book, psychologists are finding that our mindset toward things like stress and aging changes our thinking.
Obviously. But here’s the surprising part, changing our mind actually effects the chemical mixture that bathes our brain. This creates a tangible, physical impact on our health.
Another way of putting it: if you believe stress is toxic, it will be toxic to your body. If you frame stress in a more proactive light, you will literally be healthier.
If you want the condensed version of the book, McGonigal gave a Ted Talk on the topic.
Helping others helps yourself.
It’s counter-intuitive that doing more would give us energy. But it’s true.
Giving is shown to increase happiness, fight depression, reduce stress, keep us healthier and make us more optimistic people.
Like many of the 12 energy boosting areas on this list, volunteering can be used to create synergy in our lives.
Relationship building goes hand in hand with helping others. If we do good things, with our family, even better.
Skill building, confidence boosting, a creative outlet, and deeper meaning are other benefits of serving.
Call it input, inspiration, feeding the idea machine, whatever motivates you. Lifelong learning keeps us fresh and young.
Sure, it feels good to gain a level of competence and skill at whatever we do. But, without realizing it we slip into a rut, just going through the well-practiced motions day after day. Remaining a student of something, for life, is good for the brain.
Being a novice at something also gives us empathy for our children – they are continuously in learning mode.
A learning project could be photography, a new computer program, or a language. You could pick a challenging author and read all of their work. Anything to keep the synapses firing.
This is my favorite book to get inspired to try something new.
Think of these 12 areas as individual piggy banks, We will either pilfer and steal from them – leaving energy bankruptcy. Or we will drop in a coin here and a coin there, slowly and consistently building a life abundant in energy.
How do you keep your energy level tuned?