“In reality, physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel, even if our work is almost completely sedentary. It not only lies at the heart of alertness and vitality but also affects our ability to manage our emotions, sustain concentration, think creativity, and even maintain our commitment to whatever mission we are on.”
~ Jim Loehr, Author
I was recently working with a coaching client (…we’ll call him John) who was tired and couldn’t understand why despite working longer hours, his performance wasn’t as good as it used to be. He was throwing more hours in to the job in hope that he could get everything done.
Believe it or not, John had actually become disconnected from his body!
Let me explain…
In his determination to get things done, John had become unconscious to the need to replenish or even manage his own energy levels. Especially his own physical energy reserves that were being depleted.
John described his life as numb. He was busy ALL the time. He was struggling to keep up with the heavy demands of his job and trying to get everything done.
Although he knew that exercising and sleeping well were important, he saw them as a luxury in his busy life: He just didn’t have the time. His diet wasn’t healthy either, as he had gotten into the habit of grabbing food on-the-go: convenient fast food – snacky, carb-loaded stuff. He’d put on weight in the last 18-months while working in his current role.
Here’s the thing…
Many of us lead relatively sedentary lives.
What we do is measured and evaluated with our minds, rather than our bodies (unless we are professional athletes!). Most jobs involve sitting at a desk and working at a computer or attending meetings. Performance is measured by hard work – sitting down and getting the job done!
The choices John had made were depleting his ability to concentrate, think creatively and manage his emotions. He was less tolerant of other people and would get anxious and frustrated when things weren’t going well.
He started to realize the impact these factors had on his performance at work. He had gotten stuck in a pattern of low motivation to change despite knowing the consequences of his choices.
The size of your energy reserves depends on the quality of:
- The foods that you eat
- The amount of sleep you get
- The degree of intermittent recovery you allow yourself during the day
- Your level of fitness
Here are some ways to top up your physical energy reserves:
1. Conscious eating – Take time to eat healthy food regularly. The impact of being hungry has an impact on your ability to function. Breakfast is critical! The frequency of how often you eat also has an impact on your capacity to stay fully focused and engaged to sustain high performance. Listen to your body… remove the junk food and add healthier options such as fruit instead of cookies and crisps!
2. Change your sleeping patterns – Create an evening routine. Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. An evening routine might be turning the laptop off at 8pm, having a bath and reading before you go to sleep. Most of us need 7-8 hours sleep per night.
3. Drink more water – Most of us are de-hydrated! We don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Drinking water is one of the most undervalued sources of energy renewal. This is a key factor in improving your physical energy levels.
4. Regular moderate exercise – Despite knowing that taking some regular exercise is beneficial, most people do almost none! Twenty to thirty minutes a day of continuous exercise, a minimum of three times per week, can make a huge difference. Get outside and walk. Be prepared to stretch out of your comfort zone and feel a little discomfort. NOT having the time is an EXCUSE! Including this into your day can help release tension and help you to manage your emotions better.
5. Take regular breaks – To maintain full engagement we must take a break to recover every 90 minutes. Step away from what you are doing, stretch and allow yourself to recover. Build some recovery rituals into your life. This includes down time on an evening and during the weekend.
Have ever noticed the difference physical activity makes to your emotional and mental state?