You're hoping to feel energized and focused throughout the day. Yet by 2pm, your energy sags. You have heaps of emails to get through, presentations to deliver, and two or three more meetings in the long hours ahead. You grab a cookie at your desk, drink another coffee and keep going, all the while feeling more and more depleted. The demands, deadlines, and expectations piling up at a crazy pace leaves you feeling exhausted.
You wonder whether or not sustaining your energy and performance is just an elusive dream. Faster, bigger, more and more. This ethos of our business life is grounded in a totally misguided notion: the assumption that, as humans, we operate in a linear and sustainable fashion. “The reality is that we are not designed to run like a computer; continuously at high speed for long periods of time. Humans are not linear,” explains Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in The Power of Full Engagement. Instead, our bodies and our brains function rhythmically.
The beating of our hearts, our respiration, muscles, cellular function, and, most importantly, mental concentration are pulse-like, alternating through states of contraction and expansion. The human battery must be recharged; brief periods of recovery and restoration are essential for boosting energy and maintaining peak performance. Annual leave is great, as well as restful weekends. However, the need to recharge is far more immediate and is, in fact, a daily prerequisite. A new and growing body of scientific research demonstrates that strategic ‘turbo-charging’ – which includes improved workouts, short power naps, longer slumbers and superfood-packed diets – boosts productivity, mental stamina, job performance and, of course, energy.
Here are the five best ways to turbo charge your daily energy.
- Make sleep your number one priority.
Sleep is undoubtedly the most powerful restorative tool we have at our disposal. Even small amounts of sleep deprivation undermine your body’s capacity for repair. Compelling research demonstrates the effects of good quality sleep on cellular healing and optimal cognitive function. We’ve become accustomed to thinking that one less hour of sleep allows one more hour of productivity. This couldn’t be farther from the scientific truth. Over 95 percent of us require at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night for optimal energy.
- Manage energy rather than time.
Time is finite, but energy, the capacity to do work, can be expanded and regularly renewed. Energy is the fundamental currency of high performance, and yet we misuse it or take it for granted. We eat highly processed, refined foods and large amounts of sugar instead of nourishing superfoods. We sit for long periods of time, causing stasis of our blood flow and poor oxygenation of our body and brain. Not many benefits come from putting in extra time without also devoting high quality and focused energy.
- Get stressed.
Paradoxically, stress is not the enemy – it’s the key to growth. Some stress is actually good for us. For a muscle to grow, it must experience stress similar to the one we put on our bodies when lifting weights. We build ‘muscle’ at many levels. What applies to the physical body applies equally to the brain and other energies. We build emotional, spiritual, and mental energy in much the same way we build physical capacity. The problem is that when we push too hard for too long, it tips us over the edge into damaging and destructive stress. Focus in the most absorbed way possible when you’re working, and then take a break at least every 90 minutes to refuel your energy reservoir.
- Interrupt your day.
It’s not the length of your breaks that matters most, but how skillfully you use these very short periods of renewal. The simplest way to recharge energy is by breathing. You can dramatically lower your heart rate, your blood pressure and your muscle tension in as little as 30 seconds. Break up prolonged sitting times with short bursts of activity. This provides an opportunity to take a breath and push your pause button for a few moments. Moreover, it’s a highly effective way to stimulate your muscle and nerve function, increasing the flow of blood throughout your body and brain. Use the stairs whenever possible, take a brisk walk during your lunch break, or try to eat away from your desk. And make sure to power up with an energizing, nutrient-rich NutriBlast smoothie in the morning and afternoon to prevent slumps.
- Turbo charge adrenalin… and then switch it off.
There’s no better way to recharge your energy than by temporarily pumping up adrenalin levels. Use your lunch break to get to the gym, go for a run, or take a brisk walk out of the office. The workout, followed by the switch-off of adrenalin, facilitates energy recovery and renewal before you get back to your desk. Any type and duration of exercise that you do – cardio, strength training, yoga, stretching – is valuable and beneficial. Although moderate intensity training is sufficient, in recent years, high intensity interval training, or HIIT, has been shown to significantly enhance energy sustainability.
Our bodies need to recharge to maintain peak performance throughout the day. Coffee and sugary snacks can only guarantee a crash later on and the weekends can’t fix the current slump. By getting enough sleep, eating nutrient-rich foods, exercising regularly, and taking the time to breathe, we can turbo-charge our bodies to ensure that we have the energy to take on the day at full force.