Many of us are looking for energy in all the wrong places
by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
Fatigue is one of the biggest problems of modern life, but we’re trying to fix that problem in all the wrong ways.
Trying to “get” or “find” energy is like trying to grab a fistful of water. If you want water (energy) to sit in your hand, you have to first create the conditions under which it’s possible — in the case of water, keeping your fingers tightly together and your hand cupped while open will do the trick — but trying to grab the water will not. It’s the same thing with energy.
Energy isn’t something you get or grab, but rather the by-product of certain conditions that allow it to show up in your life. If your health and attitude and body and mind are all aligned in the right way, there’s nothing else for you to do but to feel energized. It’s the natural “side-effect” of a healthy life — it just comes with the territory.
Let’s say you were a swimmer wearing a weight belt and you wanted to increase your time in the 50-yard freestyle. You could spend a lot of effort researching the latest titanium high-tech bathing suit — which might add a second or two to your time — but wouldn’t it be a lot more effective to simply drop the weight belt?
Most of us are carrying around weight belts and looking to increase our energy with coffee and stimulants when in fact if we just dropped the weight belt we’d automatically go faster.
Some of the items on our weight belt are: too little sleep, disorganization, toxic relationships, high-carb diets, undetected food sensitivities, and all sorts of other facts of modern life that I discuss in detail in my book, The 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy. In this article I’m going to suggest seven ways to help drop the weight belt from your energy tank. Do them and you may be surprised at what a boost in energy they give you.
1) Support your liver.
You can help your liver do its job more effectively — and boost your energy in the bargain — by taking a daily dose of an herb called milk thistle. I consider the liver to be the most misunderstood and under-appreciated organ in the human body, because when it’s not working right, the first thing to suffer is your energy. Giving the liver all the nutrients it needs to perform its daily tasks is one of the most important things you can do to boost your energy.
2) Get ten minutes of sun every day.
“The sun gives you strength, lifts your spirits and is a source of energy”, says my friend Al Sears, MD, author of Your Best Health Under the Sun. Like a growing body of health experts, Sears thinks we’ve become so sun phobic that we’re missing out on the myriad mood-boosting and energy-enhancing benefits that vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin has to offer.
3) Disconnect for a day.
One of the great energy drainers of the 21st century is information overload. We’re deluged with stuff coming at us from emails, RSS feeds, blogs, social networking sites, TV, magazines, radio, fax machines, Blackberries… you get the picture. Knowledge may be power, but information overload is just… well, noise. Try a media-free day and feel your own energy accumulate — rather than dissipate as you attend to millions of distractions. Most of the chatter, when you think about it, won’t make much difference in the long run anyway. (If you find the idea of disconnecting for a day a frightening thought, you are exactly the person who needs to do it the most!)
4) Try the “No-Frills, No-Excuses, Anytime-Anywhere” workout.
We all know that exercise helps with energy — at least I hope we do — but when it comes to working out, time remains a big obstacle for many people. Here’s my own “no excuses” lo-tech workout that you can do just about anywhere in as little as 15 or 20 minutes for an amazing boost in energy: 1) run a mile, 2) do some squats, 3) do some push-ups, 4) do some crunches. Stretch and go about your business refreshed and energized. And if you can’t go out and run the mile, do some jumping jacks in your office, or run the stairs.
5) Revive your “qi”.
Acupuncture is based on the precepts of traditional Chinese Medicine that says the body and mind are inextricably linked; that vital energy, or qi, regulates a person’s spiritual, mental and physical health; that each of us is a delicate balance of opposing and inseparable forces called yin and yang — and when that balance is disrupted, vital energy becomes blocked or weakened. When our qi (energy) is at optimal levels and flowing smoothly, we’re ready to take on the world. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically we’re strong, healthy and energized. One terrific way to balance that energy is through acupuncture.
6) De-clutter and deep-six the energy drain. Here’s a rule I’ve found to be a universal truth: your energy has a perfect inverse relationship to the accumulation of stuff you don’t need. The more unwanted, unused, unneeded stuff you have cluttering up your life, the less energy you have. Believe it or not, the condition of your desk (and desktop) and office and living space actually reflects a lot of what’s going on in your head. If you take time to organize and de-clutter, you’ll actually be freeing up a lot of psychic space, and that can really turbo-charge your energy.
7) Take the right supplements.
While supplements don’t really “give” you energy, they can correct metabolic issues that are draining it. They can also speed along certain pathways that are nutrient-dependent and that get sluggish (and energy draining) when those nutrients are in short supply. One terrific energizing nutrient is coenzyme Q10. It helps transform fats and sugars into energy and is a potent antioxidant.