My energy levels were never something I gave much thought.
Some days I had it and other days I lacked it.
In my mind that was just part of the human experience.
Some days you wake up fine and other days you wake up tired.
Little did I realise that energy can be increased and controlled when you grasp what it actually is.
And in our world, energy is everything.
Energy is everything and everything is energy
It is inside us and in everything around us. It never goes away and can never be created or destroyed. But it can be converted.
It’s recycled and reused again and again. The energy inside you is billions of years old (maybe more) and has been around since the origin of the universe. The universe itself is nothing but a constant flow of energy.
Energy powers the trillions of cells in your body allowing you to run, jump, work, think, learn, laugh and everything else related to being human.
Without energy nothing exists. It is fundamental to every thing – living or otherwise – in existence.
Your body’s capacity for energy is a finite amount so use it wisely. To do this requires both energy storage and management.
Ensuring your energy capacity is reached
How do you do that? There’s no one approach but rather a number of things you can do to ensure you’re firing on all cylinders.
Energy is dictated by purpose
Energy is not physical but is metaphysical too.
We draw energy by waking up in the morning with a sense of purpose. Whether that’s to build a successful company, raise great kids or to just have a good day.
The type of purpose is specific to the person and it’s what converts the spark of enthusiasm into raw energy.
Having a purpose is the best way to accumulate and store energy on a consistent and regular basis.
Positive people bring positive energy
Have you ever been around people who make you feel good and energised? It’s like their energy rubs off on you. Charismatic people tend to leave you feeling this way.
These people give off a positive energy which charges your emotion. You feel good after being with them (and in some cases crave them when they’re gone).
To attract positive people you need to be a positive person yourself. Like attracts like.
Good food is energy, bad food is not
It’ll come as no surprise that the better quality food you eat the more energy you will have.
Food converts to energy and some foods are more energy-dense than others.
Eating junk food generally saps your energy. It makes you feel lethargic and sluggish.
Brain health plays a role in energy storage too. Despite only weighing 2% of your body, your brain uses 20% of the energy.
Feed the body and brain with energy-converting foods and they will reward you for it.
Move to generate more energy
Exercise demands energy but paradoxically creates more of it. After a run or a gym session your energy levels and elevated and emotional state heightened.
While it’s not kinetic, the principles are the same. Movement creates energy.
There’s a sweet spot, of course, and pushing yourself too much can leave you temporarily fatigued.
Nevertheless, the body bounces back stronger and with a greater capacity to store more energy.
With exercise it can be an initial investment upfront to reap the benefits later.
Six months of intense energy sapping exercise feeling tired all the time may give you the following year a higher daily energy that you’ve ever had.
Sleep is epitome of energy storage
Sleep is the most important thing you can do for your long term health. It’s also the best way to ensure your energy levels are the best they can be.
We’ve all experienced the symptoms of a few days of poor sleep. Impaired judgment, lack of clarity in our thinking, lower mood and, of course, low energy.
Contrast that with getting enough sleep and the health benefits are all too clear. Sleep replenishes energy and is the best elixir of good health we have.
Sleep is a superpower as brilliantly articulated by sleep expert, Matt Walker.
Sunlight creates energy
Plants need light to grow and so do we. Sunlight creates energy. Life is energy and it’s the sun that makes life on earth possible.
In the same way it powers solar panels, grows plants and heats up the earth, it too provides us with energy. Coal is the sun’s stored solar energy from million of years ago.
Sunlight increases the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin in our brain which increases mood. You know how better people feel after they’ve been in the sun for a couple of weeks. This is its energy at work.
I write this article in autumn as we move into winter and can feel my energy lower than normal because of the lack of light exposure.
If sunlight is the best disinfectant, it’s also our greatest source of energy.
How you manage your energy stores
Channel emotional energy
Anger is energy. Nervous energy is a stress response coming from the fight or flight part of the brain.
Emotions both good and bad are normal to experience in the human condition. Emotions create energy but they can be energy sapping. It all depends on how you use that energy.
Whatever the emotion, good or bad, channel the energy in whatever you are doing.
Negative people will sap your energy
Have you ever been with someone and came away feeling worse than you did before you met?
Some people are energy sappers. Their pessimism and overall outlook on life gives off a negative energy which affects you if you’re in close proximity.
If you ever find yourself around these types of people (and I don’t mean a friend who’s just having a bad day) leave.
Misery loves company, as they say, and their negativity rubs off on you.
The same can be applied to social media too. If someone is consistently negative by the things they say, share or like just unfollow them.
Focus is energy intensity
We all know by now that multitasking has been proven to be categorically unproductive.
Shifting focus from one task to the next drains too much cognitive energy. You may even feel you’re getting more done because you’re managing multiple tasks and you’re busy but in reality you’re not.
In today’s connected world of social media, emails and notifications, it’s becoming harder to maintain focus in an increasingly pressurised desk-based job.
We’re becoming more distracted by the unimportant but brain-stimulating pings of technology. To manage the finite energy you have each day effectively you have to maintain focus on the task in hand.
That means figuring out what has priority and removing all other distractions. I talk about this and more when I wrote about how I became a digital minimalist.
Keep that energy focussed.