Seven Ways to Feel Better and Accomplish More
After my first appointment at the wellness center on my birthday last fall, I realized I needed to get my stress level under control. It was a key ingredient for improving my health and my relationships. My stress at that particular season in my life wasn’t coming from big things like deployment, PCS, illness, loss, or danger. It was that everyday, helpless, nagging feeling that I didn’t have enough time to get everything done that I needed and wanted to do.
Control stress. Beat stress. Fight stress. It all sounds so negative and hard, like we have to exert all kinds of effort to wrangle a monster. How can we muster the courage for a big fight if we’re already feeling overwhelmed?
After reading The Power of Full Engagement I realized that there’s a more peaceful approach to dealing with routine stress: managing energy.
If you’re run down, you’re not able to cope with daily demands, and you’re definitely not prepared to cope with the bigger crises as they come along. Here are seven ways to manage energy so you can keep stress in check without putting up a fight.
1. Sleep. Get seven to eight hours a night. Period. If you feel like you don’t have the gumption to tackle the tasks at hand, you might need a nap. Lifehacker offers a chart to plan your snooze based on what kind of boost you need. Ten to 20 minutes is great for a quick energy pick-me-up. If you find yourself endlessly grazing on snacks, it could be that you’re just tired. Try closing your eyes for a few minutes instead of reaching for the next handful of nuts or chocolate.
2. Eat. Calories are energy. Make sure you’re getting enough to fuel your activities, but not so many that you have extra that will get turned to fat. Skipping or eating inadequate meals can lead to an energy slump, and eating too much can make you feel tired and lethargic. Use this calculator for a quick estimate or check to see if your military installation has a wellness center for a custom workup. Be sure to revise your caloric needs if your activity level changes. If you’re coming out of winter hibernation and running more, you may need to eat more. If you’re going back to a desk job after chasing around busy toddlers, you may need to eat less. Plan a portable snack for times when you’re going to be out during your normal mealtimes.
3. Drink. Greatist ran a great article on unexpected reasons to drink water. Some of those reasons include providing muscles with energy, boosting productivity while reducing fatigue, and facilitating clearer thinking. Skip the caffeinated beverage and drink water instead for an energy boost without the crash.
4. Work. Paid or unpaid, find work you love to do that contributes to YOUR identity and self-worth. Find balance between supporting your service member/children and building a life for yourself. So you’re a military spouse. Who are you beyond that? Who are YOU? We all know that we’re underemployed and therefore underpaid when we do find jobs. But, maybe you can start a blog in your career field or seek more education that will make you marketable when you do get to a time when you can work. Maybe you can branch out and explore opportunities where your passions lie.
5. Play. Allotting time to do the things that you really love can bring a passion to life that spills over into other areas of your life. Maybe you meet friends for lunch, get a sitter so you can have a date night with your spouse, or work on a hobby. Taking time out from responsibilities to have some fun lets you bring renewed energy and enthusiasm to those responsibilities.
6. Recover. Reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, taught me that when you’re presented with a new opportunity or commitment you have to give up something else to say yes. It’s a simple truth but one that we don’t think about enough. We need to build time into our weeks to recover from our daily activities. If I plan activities one day at a time it’s easy to look at my calendar and say that I have time to add something else. But, over the course of a week, if I continue to add more and more to my schedule with no relief, my house falls apart, I get behind on work, and my family time suffers. If I build-in flexibility, I’m more capable of being able to “do it all.” That means having the time to follow through with routines, manage responsibilities, and leaving openness for unexpected get-togethers or appointments.
7. Invert. When all else fails, go upside down. Any time your heart is above your head then you are inverted. When you stand on your head or your hands, blood flows to the head resulting in an invigorating rush. Not quite ready to kick all the way up? Try some donkey kicks by starting in downward-facing dog and attempting to kick both feet to the glutes, giving yourself a literal kick in the pants. Or, put your hands on the floor and walk your feet up a wall.
Which of the above seven energy boosters are you most lacking right now?