I find time and time again that clients I work with are suffering from inconsistent energy, manifesting as XYZ symptom. Almost always I can refer them to a list like this for how to manage their ___. Why? It all boils down to lacking vitality and energy. To keep it simple, we humans require good health.
I’d love to define a few key words here: Health: The state of being free from illness or injury.
Vitality: Full of energy; lively. Allowing the energy potential that’s already within to flow.
Energy: In life, the human body comprises matter and energy. That energy is both electrical (impulses and signals) and chemical (reactions). ... Remarkably, at any given moment, roughly 20 watts of energy course through your body — enough to power a light bulb — and this energy is acquired in a plethora of ways.
So with that, here are some of my recommendations for hacking human energy potential & living a vital life:
Getting adequate sunlight, to set your biological clock and sleep/wake (circadian) cycle. throughout the day. Consider viewing the sun at low solar angle 2x daily morning and night looking directly at the sun:
When the sun is low in the sky the contrast between yellow and blue wavelengths is greatest and that is what allows the specific neurons in your retina/eye to set your circadian clock.
I recommend viewing sunlight when the sun is at low solar angle in the morning and again in the evening as many days as possible. If you miss a day that’s not such a huge deal but try not to miss two days in a row.
This will keep circadian timing mechanisms in your brain and body tuned up appropriately. That means better sleep, proper timing of cortisol release and neuromodulators like dopamine and serotonin as well. This equates to better mood and learning. These are all statements backed by quality peer reviewed research in mice and humans.
How long to view it? That depends on how bright it is and whether or not there’s any cloud cover. If there’s cloud cover and you can’t see the blue yellow contrast don’t worry it’s still coming through those clouds. If it’s a very bright cloudless day then 2-10 minutes is usually sufficient. On a cloudy day 30 minutes is better. And if you live someplace where it is dark and dreary then consider using an artificial light that is quite bright to mimic sunlight. (A recommended product for creating artificial light here)
Contacts and eyeglasses won’t disrupt this process - in fact they focus light to the eye. But looking through a window does not work well for this purpose; It takes much longer to set the circadian clock. 50 times longer in fact.
Never look at any light so bright that it’s painful to look at. You don’t want to damage your retina. Wear sunglasses or do not depending on how sensitive your eyes are. That varies.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBjUR16AiBM to hear influential Stanford Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, PhD speak on this very subject.
Movement. There really is a recommended amount of physical activity each week for humans to be moving, based on how humans evolved to move. We now have a much more sedentary lifestyle working from desks and driving in cars, far different than we evolved to be.
How do we find that sweet spot and ensure that we get enough—but not too much—physical activity? The best way to accomplish this is by focusing on three elements that can be expressed in the acronym SWAP: Stand, Walk, and Push.
Stand for around half the day; you burn 100-200 calories per hour standing vs just 60-130 when sitting!
Walk at least 10,000 steps per day (roughly 5 miles!). Consider how much our ancestors moved in order to get their food most days!
Push yourself: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, OR 30 minutes maximal or near-maximal activity each week.
Sleeping like a pro (I’ll soon publish a fuller-length article on this topic alone!)
Sleep deprivation can lead to many health problems such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, anxiety, and more. To feel your best, it’s vital to get proper sleep.
We each need a slightly different amount of sleep to feel our best, so experiment for 30-60 days tracking yourself with a sleep log to notice how you feel.
Things that affect our overall vitality (this list) also affect our sleep: sleep nutrition (what you eat close to sleeping and how full you are), movement, light exposure, stress)
The bedroom environment needs to help you go to sleep too! (think, the bedroom should only be used for sleeping and sex!) Also factoring in here are temperature, quality of your bedding, your bed, and noise/other room lights.
Manage your stress. Breathing practices, journaling, gratitude, yoga, tai chi, qigong, dance, martial arts, strength training, time in nature. We all know this!
Taking time for yourself is not selfish—it helps you to be the best mother/father, spouse, friend, employee, and person you can. Though this is obvious, it is often overlooked. Stress management seems to be the most difficult change for people to make. Though we can empathize with this difficulty, and understand the commitment needed to make such a change, we cannot shy away from the significant need to implement stress management. Clearly stated, if you’re not doing some form of stress management, you will sabotage all of your best efforts with diet, exercise, and supplements. It is just that essential. Stress is, of course, an inevitable part of life, and it isn’t even all bad. When the total amount of stress you are experiencing at a given time exceeds your ability to cope with it, that’s when stress wreaks havoc on your health. Since you can’t avoid all stress in life, try to minimize the impact of stress by:
Reducing your total exposure to psychological or physiological stress
Mitigating the harmful effects of stress you can’t avoid
Adopting strategies for stress management
Down regulation, helping not just stress, but also to improve your relationship with your body. In turn, down regulation practices will improve your relationships with others, and your conditioned traumatic responses.
To down-regulate is to purposefully shift your state of nervous system from the sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze, fawn) response to the parasympathetic (rest, relax, digest) response. If you are chronically in a fight/flight state, you will respond from fear: strategies and coping mechanisms and defensiveness etc. - but from a parasympathetic state we are far more level-headed and in touch with our own wholeness. We can make choices with discernment and therefore choose how we respond, rather than from something conditioned in us. When we are able to make good choices, we can have good energy.
You can down-regulate by focusing on yourself, perhaps most simply by practicing following and paying attention to your breath. There are many techniques, from simple to advanced, to train your attention on breathing. Start by inhaling for four counts (and physically count in your mind, "one, two, three, four" and then exhaling four counts (“one, two, three, four”), for 3 or more minutes. Equal breathing on purpose balances the hemispheres of the brain and lets you feel overall more calm, equanimity, and relaxation from stress.
You can even practice down-regulation with a partner (termed co-regulation) where you deliberately match pace of breath together, and create an energetic healing environment with one another.
Monitor your adrenal fatigue, “doing too much,” and coffee intake. This all goes hand in hand and when you overdo it, you remain in a state of exhaustion. Eventually, you burn out and/or get sick, which is like a giant smack from the universe telling you to pay attention to what you’ve been doing/your choices that led you to this state of complete exhaustion. “The universe will send you messages louder and louder until you finally start listening.”
Who you spend time with and what you’re looking at online will either support or drain your energy. Consider how much screen time you get each day, whether your social media use supports your joy or brings you more frustration, and also the kind of people you spend time with. If what you’re doing isn’t lifting you up, why are you doing it? When you feel most like yourself, those are the activities to do more of.
Speaking of that…. Add more play in your life! The more we can experience joy and play, the more we will feel balanced in our energy (and not focused on negativity in the world!)
In our culture, play is often dismissed as a waste of time. However, research suggests that play may encourage flexibility and variability in behavior and adaptation to a changing environment. Some research (specifically studying bears) even suggests that play may contribute to living longer and healthier lives, along with directly contributing to the growth of certain brain regions.
The food and water we consume plays a HUGE role in our energy - that's a no brainer. More on this subject in another post! But for now, I'll say, eat and drink in a way that allows your body to feel ALIVE and not bogged down. It's unique to you, but rather simple!
Let me know whether this helps and if you'd add anything to the list! Practice, a little every day. It goes a long way!
Enjoy this infographic I found, too :)