The world we live in is so fast-paced and productivity-driven that is extremely demanding and places high level of stress on our body. We constantly need as much energy as we can muster if we want to be successful.
Multiple stressors, however, over a period of time can leave you drained and no longer performing at your best.
Burnout occurs when the demands people face exceed the resources they have to meet them.
What are these resources? Time and energy! The management of these two is the key to balancing your life.
Time management is beyond the scope of this article, but let’s talk about energy.
But don’t forget that punching the wall for a longer time, doesn’t mean that it will have a greater chance of breaking. So, if you want to be more productive, manage your energy, not just your time!
“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”
– Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz36
To understand how to manage your energy, let’s look at the sources of energy.
PHYSICAL ELEMENTS OF ENERGY
The physical energy of your body depends on how healthy you are, and how your body is prepared. If you’ve experienced chronic fatigue, or even burnout, your body may be in need of attention.
The highest level physical energy comes from three main elements:
- high-quality sleep, and recovery,
- adequate nutrient supply,
- regular physical activity.
Deep, high-quality sleep is vital to achieve and maintain optimal functioning. Insufficient sleep leads to slowing of response, decreased alertness, attention and vigilance. Higher level cognitive capacities, perception, memory, and learning capacity are even more vulnerable to sleep loss.
Being awake for 18 hours may have a similar effect as having a blood alcohol level of 0.08, which is legally drunk. 21
People consistently sleeping 5 hours or less per night may have a 12% increased risk of death. This would equate to over 6.3 million attributable deaths in the UK for people over 16 years of age and over 25 million deaths in the US for people over the age of 20.6, 11
Recommended sleep for adults is 7-9 hours per night.4, 5 Over the last 40 years, though, sleep disorders have become epidemic in the developed world.1, 2, 3
Insomnia is reported in approximately 30% of adults.10, 12 According to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Health Index™, 45% of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affects their daily activities and this occurs at least once a week.27, 28 A study in Sweden found that over 20 years, disturbed sleep almost doubled the risk of a fatal accident at work. 7, 8, 9, 10
“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.”
– Thomas Dekker
Aside from medical or psychological conditions, sleep disorders may relate to lifestyle factors such as being overweight, high stress levels, working >10h per day, smoking, excessive consumption of caffeinated beverages, and nutrient inadequacy. 12 Many researches proved the link between key nutrients and sleep quality. 12, 16
You might think that your sleeping problems are because of your highly stressed life-style, but look at your daily nutrition first!
ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF VITAMIN D! Importance of vitamin D, in the control of sleep is revealed well by a scientific review wherein researchers concluded that widespread vitamin D deficiency may be the cause of the current epidemic of sleep disorders. 1
In a study, Vitamin D supplementation (50.000IU vitamin D, once a fortnight for 8 weeks, which equates to 3570 IU daily) improved sleep quality, reduced sleep latency and raised sleep duration in people with sleep disorders.15
GET ENOUGH MAGNESIUM! Magnesium, deficiency is associated with sleep disorders. It affects sleep quality, especially in older adults, obese individuals, and alcohol abusers.13 In a particular study, magnesium supplementation (500 mg per day for 8 weeks) improved sleep efficiency, sleep time, sleep onset latency and early morning awakening.14
DON’T FORGET ABOUT ZINC! Decreased zinc, intake was associated with short sleep duration, while sufficient zinc improved sleep quality.17, 18, 19 A study found that zinc supplementation from natural sources improved sleep onset latency and sleep efficiency. 20
DON’T FORGET TO HYDRATE WELL! Dehydration is one of the most underrated sleep disrupters. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data found that adequate water consumption was independently associated with sleep quality.16
A misconception is that a quick workout will leave us worn out, especially when we are already tired. But the opposite is true!
A review of 12 population-based studies found that there was strong, consistent relationship between physical activity and a reduced risk of low energy and fatigue.22
A study at the University of Georgia showed that low-intensity exercises 3 times per week for 6 weeks, caused a 20% increase in energy, and a 63% decrease in fatigue in sedentary individuals who regularly complained of tiredness.23, 24
ADEQUATE LEVELS OF PHYSICAL ACTIVITY:
World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.
For additional benefits, this amount should be increased to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week, or a combination of the two.
Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week. 26
NON-PHYSICAL ELEMENTS OF ENERGY
Energy is not just a matter of physical health, but mental, emotional, and spiritual factors as well. Thus, you can recognize changes in your energy levels not only as consequences of physical states, but also as an effect of psychical and emotional factors, and as with physical, psychical and emotional energy can be depleted, and must then be replenished from time to time.
Every one of our thoughts, emotions, and actions have consequences on our perceived energy level, for better or worse. Let’s see a couple of actions that may help!
FORGET LINEAR THINKING! Do you remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The moral of the story is that slow and steady wins the race. Well, if you believe in fairy tales, your life will be a grueling marathon.
There is a very good metaphor in the brilliant book by Jim Loehr And Tony Schwartz. 36
Picture a race of Olympic long-distance runners. What do you see in their faces? Gaunt, sunken, emotionally and physically drained! Now, imagine the race of world-class sprinters. They are bursting with energy, and you can see the fire in their eyes!
Why the difference? Well, it doesn’t matter how intense the effort is. If the finish line is clearly visible your energy reserves will multiply.
Life is not linear! No matter how fast you run, sooner or later you will be exhausted. It is just a matter of time.
Do you think you can sprint a marathon? Try it and see.
If you think life is a marathon, and you are the tortoise, go for it. But don’t blame others when you turn back and can still see the starting line.
According to Loehr and Schwartz, we should approach life like a series of sprints. Intensively engaging for periods of time, and then equally intense periods of renewal, before jumping back into the fight. 36
GIVE YOURSELF A FRESH START! To increase your motivation and energy, start by thinking today or tomorrow as the day of your fresh start. Do you remember the energy and determination you felt when you were able to wipe the slate clean? This is called the “fresh-start effect”, and it gives you a burst of energy!
The Wharton School of Business found evidence of the “fresh start effect” where people exhibit a higher likelihood of engaging in aspirational behavior following temporal landmarks. 29, 30 Researchers found that these turning points encourage people in two ways: by making them disconnect from past failures and by focusing their attention on the big-picture view of their lives and their real goals. 29, 30
TAKE TIME TO REASSESS YOUR GOALS! Humans are goal-oriented creatures. Almost every action reflects an intention toward specific ends. 31
If you have no idea what your goals are, and what actions you should take to achieve them, you will experience frustration. People who have purpose in their lives tend to have greater satisfaction, increased longevity and fewer health problems. 32, 33, 34, 35
You have to regularly review your actions and reassess your goals. You need to take a step backward and from a distance, you can see the bigger picture. It gives you the time to clear your mind. Many people read books or articles about self-improvement once in a while, and expect results, but it doesn’t work this way! Motivation needs a regular boost!
“People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily!”
– Zig Ziglar
TRAIN YOUR MIND AND YOUR BODY WILL FOLLOW! To build your capacity to push beyond your limits, train systematically like competitive athletes.
Studies showed that employee training courses instantly increased productivity. Memory training showed immediate and long-term improvement in cognitive performance in children and adolescents, while mindfulness meditation courses improved learning and cognitive performance. The list goes on. 39, 40, 41, 38 Develop your personal competencies, and your motivation and energy level will follow.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! This is almost a cliché, but it’s true! Researches proved that a simple shift in the way you think about your competence, can make a big difference in the outcome. 37
RECHARGE YOUR ENERGY LEVELS
You won’t improve by accident. You need to start at the basics and progress step by step. Human beings are holistic systems. If you change a specific part , it will affect the whole. If you have difficulties in one area of your life, every area suffers. But when you improve one area of your life, all other areas will be positively influenced. Build your life from the inside-out, recharge your energy and live your life to the fullest!
“The ultimate measure of our lives is not how much time we spend on the planet, but rather how much energy we invest in the time that we have.”
– Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz36
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- Bonnet MH, Arand DL. We are chronically sleep deprived. Sleep 1995;18:908–11.
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- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. International classification of sleep disorders, diagnostic and coding manual. Chicago: American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2005.
- Golem DL, Martin-Biggers JT, Koenings MM, Davis KF, Byrd-Bredbenner C. An Integrative Review of Sleep for Nutrition Professionals. Advances in Nutrition. 2014;5(6):742-759. doi:10.3945/an.114.006809.
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- Akerstedt T, Fredlund P, Gillberg M, Jansson B. A prospective study of fatal occupational accidents — relationship to sleeping difficulties and occupational factors. J Sleep Res. 2002;11(1):69–71.
- Ferrie JE, Kumari M, Salo P, Singh-Manoux A, Kivimäki M. Sleep epidemiology–a rapidly growing field. International Journal of Epidemiology. 2011;40(6):1431-1437. doi:10.1093/ije/dyr203.
- Cappuccio FP, D’Elia L, Strazzullo P, Miller MA. Sleep Duration and All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Sleep. 2010;33(5):585-592.
- Leger D, Roscoat E, Bayon V, Guignard R, Paquereau J, Beck F. Short sleep in young adults: Insomnia or sleep debt? Prevalence and clinical description of short sleep in a representative sample of 1004 young adults from France. Sleep Med. 2011;12(5):454–462.
- Forrest N: Relation between Magnesium Deficiency and Sleep Disorders and Associated Pathological Changes. 2015 Modulation of Sleep by Obesity, Diabetes, Age, and Diet, pp.291-296. 10.1016/B978-0-12-420168-2.00031-4.
- Abbasi B, Kimiagar M, Sadeghniiat K, Shirazi MM, Hedayati M, Rashidkhani B. The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences : The Official Journal of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. 2012;17(12):1161-1169.
- Majid MS, et al.: The effect of vitamin D supplement on the score and quality of sleep in 20-50 year-old people with sleep disorders compared with control group. Nutr Neurosci. 2017 May 5:1-9. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1317395. [Epub ahead of print]
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- Cherasse, Y. et al.: Zinc improves sleep quality in human and promotes non-rapid eye movement sleep in mice. Sleep Medicine , Volume 40 , e58 – e59
- Cherasse, Y. et al.: Dietary Zinc Acts as a Sleep Modulator. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2017, 18(11), 2334; doi:10.3390/ijms18112334
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