Updated: Sep 30, 2021
We all suffer from low energy levels from time to time. It seems to be intrinsically linked to the efforts required to be successful.
The need to achieve and perform as a professional, a partner and a mother is a powerful motivator. It compels you to keep going, to keep looking for the next project, whether home or work related.
But it can also result in burnout.
In order to effectively understand what might be causing your low energy levels, it is worth using an analogy. And as we are talking about nutrition, health and well-being, an exercise-based analogy seems ideal.
When you exercise intensely through a class or at the gym, you generate energy anaerobically (without oxygen). You will notice when you stop, sometimes quite a while after, you are still breathing heavily. This is your body replacing the oxygen debt you created while exercising.
Interval training is often referred to as HIIT (high intensity interval training). The aim is to move from one activity to another, creating an oxygen debt, with just enough rest time in between to move on to the next task.
Does that sound at all familiar?
There is a difference, however. The HIIT session you do voluntarily at the gym has an end point and designated recovery time… your life doesn’t. When you operate at 100% for prolonged periods of time, you create a physical and mental energy deficit just like an exercise oxygen debt. It can take a toll on you physically through skin problems, weight gain (through ‘tired’ food choices), and mentally, resulting in poor sleep, heightened stress, greater anxiety and low energy.
There are some simple changes you can make today that will help you to replenish your energy, giving you a much-needed boost and helping you feel healthier in body and mind.
Firstly, you need to address your nutrition. Everything ultimately returns to nutrition. What we consume affects both our body and mind. Making the right food choices has a direct impact on your energy levels and can make the biggest difference to your overall well-being. If you are not eating enough, you will feel tired. If you are eating the wrong foods, you will feel tired. What you put into your body is very important but it is also crucial to be mindful of what you keep out.
Simple carbohydrates especially those that have refined sugars: white bread, fizzy drinks, white pasta Est are digested quickly and provide an instant boost of energy. The problem is that they then spike blood sugar causing your insulin production to increase making you feel lethargic and sapping your energy. To avoid this, stick with whole foods that release energy slowly overtime; they will keep you going throughout the day and help you avoid the pitfalls of sugar spikes.
It is also important to be aware of any food intolerance you may have as they too cause energy draining symptoms. While we are on the topic of eating, ensure you are getting enough high-quality protein. Recent studies show that protein rich diets reduce fatigue by boosting metabolism. Nuts, pulses, chicken, fish and turkey are some of the best options and can be batched cooked in advance to keep you on track.
Drink plenty of water.
Even mild dehydration can affect your energy and concentration levels. This also means avoiding highly caffeinated drinks. While they can provide a quick boost in the morning, you should avoid them later on in the day where the dehydration they cause can start to affect your energy levels and even your sleep.
Finding time to exercise when you’re already juggling so much can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be a big production. Standing and walking while on the phone, opting for a standing desk, taking the stairs, even parking further away to extend your walking time all contribute to your overall health and well-being as well as raising your energy levels.
We all know we need sleep, but few are aware of the amazing things your body does while you are at rest including regulating the hormones related to energy and repairing damaged muscles. Experts recommend 7 hours for an adult, but it must be as uninterrupted as possible. It is a clear case of quality over quantity. Switch off devices at night. Don’t take your phone to bed. Try reading and making a conscientious effort to unwind.
Control your stress levels.
Stress puts physical strain on your body and mind. You must find strategies to cope with stress and keep it at manageable levels. After a while, stress can cause the same unpleasant symptoms as sleep deprivation and dehydration. Take time for yourself. Be good to yourself and feel your energy return.
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