By Judy Bennett
Do you wake up before your alarm clock? Do you feel rested and refreshed, ready for the day’s challenges? Do you have enough energy to sail through your workday, and participate in activities you love after work?
I didn’t think so.
I’m not talking about the kind of fatigue that happens after working a double shift, or from shoveling wet snow, or being up all night with a colicky baby. I’m talking about the draggy, foggy feeling that clings to you even after a decent night’s sleep. This kind is often called adrenal fatigue. When the body is under persistent physical, mental, or emotional stress, the adrenal glands work overtime to secrete fight-or-flight hormones. Chemically speaking, you are on high alert all the time, and this is exhausting to your system. These stressors include inadequate sleep, not enough exercise, poor nutrition, and good old-fashioned stress. Let’s look at each of these habits to see how they impact your energy level and what you can do to change them.
Sleep: Yes, you do need eight hours of sleep. If you’re sick or have thyroid problems, you need even more. Sleep is when your cells repair themselves and it’s very important for your brain function, mood, and energy. Try this formula to help you get the sleep you need. Pick the time you want to get up, then deduct eight and a half hours. The extra half-hour is the time you’ll start getting ready for bed. Allow ten minutes for preparing for tomorrow, ten minutes for hygiene, and ten minutes for reading, meditation, etc. Then it’s lights out eight hours before your alarm is set to go off.
Exercise: Regular, vigorous exercise goes a long way toward dissipating those fight-or-flight hormones. But let’s back up a step. What can you do when that after-lunch slump hits? Here’s an easy exercise that will perk you up wherever you are. Clasp your hands behind your back, lift them as high as you can, and look up. Hold that pose for 30 seconds. Or, if your office is more casual, do thirty jumping jacks.
Nutrition: There are countless volumes of information devoted to how and what you should eat, but we’ll stick to the two biggest energy-stealers: caffeine and sugar. Sure, they make you feel good for a little while. But they take your metabolism on a roller coaster ride that leads to fatigue, irritability, and brain fog. The rapid crash also creates cravings for even more caffeine and sugar. Eliminate them from your diet, period. When you feel sleepy, try this instead. Breathe through your nose as fast as you can for 10 seconds. Instant energy boost!
Stress: Giving your adrenals a break can be as simple as taking the time to have fun. It sends good versus stressful chemicals coursing through you. What makes you happy? Reading? Crafting? Gardening? Whatever it is, do it. Ideally, you should make time for yourself each day, but several times a week is okay too. Start with ten minutes and build up from there.
Have a fabulous, energy-filled day! Your couch will miss you.
– Judy Bennett is a board certified holistic health practitioner and a member of the International Association of Wellness Professionals and the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior.