Why are the most important things in life so hard to prioritize?
There is a fine line between feeling energized and feeling stressed.
Without fail, every mom or young professional I talk to wants more energy and less stress in their day. They want to feel motivated and alert. They want to feel full of creative thoughts and have the ability to follow through with them!
However, too often, instead of feeling ready to conquer the day, we feel tired and anxious. Our thoughts are all foggy and our bodies are moving slowly. So what do we do? We grab a quick fix – maybe some caffeine or some sugar – quick energy that ends up making us feel physically anxious on top of the emotional anxiety we were already feeling.
Perhaps we blame our busy schedules, our poor sleeping habits or the glass of wine (or two…) we had the night before. We convince ourselves to just keep pushing through, trying to knock out our to-do list as we yearn for this feeling of "alertness" and "awareness".
There are certain markers that instinctively tell us this way of life is not healthy. One of these markers is weight gain, which seems to be the most obvious and common impetus for change in our culture. But the evidence of poor health that I see the most often is lack of energy. This lack can take on many names and forms: exhaustion, anxiety, brain fog–just to name a few.
You know that you are not as productive or effective as you could be because you are tired, stressed or just plain scattered. But, is it even possible to stay energized throughout the day??
Yes. Yes, it is.
Here are 3 ways to boost that energy of yours and reduce stress in your day (hint: #3 will be the most life changing–you're welcome):
1. Detoxify your body
Your body is hard at work combating every toxin that you come into contact with all day. Allergens in the air, heavy metals that have leached into your food, unnatural additives and preservatives you consume–your digestive system works hard to get those toxins out. When your digestive system is overloaded, your body gives in to exhaustion, brain fog and a very discouraged demeanor.
Maybe your energy is low and your productivity has stalled because your body needs a detox Leafy greens are essential for proper digestion, which means your body cannot get rid of the toxins that it has taken in without them. Your gallbladder (you forgot you had one of those, didn't you??) plays an important role in this! The bile that it produces helps to emulsify fats, scrub your intestinal wall from toxic chemicals and expel those chemicals by way of attaching to the cellulose in leafy greens. Without that cellulose, the toxins remain in your gut and are absorbed into your blood, your lymph and then your brain. Yep.
Brain fog and lack of vegetable consumption are linked. The chemical compounds in leafy greens attach to the bile from your gall bladder and escort the toxins out of your body. When your body is so overloaded with toxins that it cannot digest them, those toxins accumulate in your brain tissue. Nobody wants that. So if you are nourishing your body well with leafy greens, your organs will work together properly to expel toxins instead of having to store them in other valuable tissue! Add in more leafy greens to your day, and see how fast your brain fog lifts. Add them into every meal, and by the end of a week you will feel like a whole new person! Here are a few of my favorite ways:
- Add chopped spinach to your eggs in the morning, or have eggs with a side salad
- Make my fave Kale Salad – It is so delicious you will want to eat it any time of day, even for an energizing afternoon snack!
- Chlorella Energy Shot – Chlorella is an algae that is incredibly nutrient dense, and earns its "superfood" title in a big way. It helps to detoxify your body from heavy metals and radiation, has an incredibly high concentration of chlorophyll to help your body eliminate toxins and helps regulate your hormones and metabolism while strengthening your immune system. Talk about SUPER
*How do you eat chlorella??? You can add chlorella to your green juice or smoothie, or make my Chlorella Energy Shot with water and a squeeze of lemon — this is personally my favorite way:
Energizing Chlorella Shot
– 1 tsp Chlorella, 1/3 Cup water, generous squeeze of lemon or lime
Chug it. You will be astounded at how quickly you gain energy and clarity! And your gut, immune system and cells will all thank you.
2. Face the Sun and Quit Breathing your Co-worker's Plasma
Our energy is directly dependent on the air and light that we consume.
You could survive 3 weeks without eating food and 3 days without drinking water, but you will only survive 5 minutes without breathing. If we are committed to consuming good food, we should be even more committed to consuming fresh air and being thankful for each breath!
Do you know when you are in your office building and the air feels stale and warm….and then you feel tired and just can't focus? The result of many humans breathing in the same enclosed space is that all the electricity is sucked out of the air and H2O is exhaled into it. Think of how you can see your breath outside in the winter – the breath you see is the water you are breathing out. Before it was water, it was blood plasma (ew).
This may sound crazy, but part of the reason why you feel so tired and foggy is because you are breathing in your co-worker's old blood plasma…….
3. GO TAKE A WALK OUTSIDE
Let your face bask in the sun, and breathe deeply! Find a moment where you can consume fresh air and natural sunlight. The old adage "get some fresh air" is the real deal. Next time you feel tired and reach for food/coffee for a recharge, consider breathing in some good clean air instead. Your cells will get the oxygen they need for you to feel energized, and it will re-charge your nervous system.
The light that you consume through your eyes affects your stress level and your energy, and can either re-charge your nervous system or keep it on high alert! Facing the sun instead of looking at a screen will give you more sustained energy.
You may already know that blue-light from our devices interferes with melatonin production and can keep you from getting good rest at night. But did you know that consuming this blue light all day long increases your stress level and leads to that scattered-and-overwhelmed feeling? Constantly battling internal stress is exhausting! Most of us cannot avoid the screens, as they are essential to our careers and to our creativity.
But we can all find time in our day to look away and take a deep breath.
4. Embrace the 3-5 Slump
I'm sure you have heard about your "stress hormone": cortisol. It gets a bad rap, but cortisol also helps to give you energy! Healthy levels of cortisol keep you energized throughout the day and then help you wind down at night.
Your body should be producing the most cortisol in the morning until noon, then gradually reducing production throughout the day, with a small spike around 5pm and then continuing to lower into the evening. Studies have shown that your cortisol levels dip from 3 to 5 pm, which explains why the flurry of emails taper off around that time. Between the hours of 3 and 5 pm, we naturally feel more tired because of reduced cortisol, and often times we try to combat this natural dip in energy with stimulants (afternoon latte anyone?). This interferes with your body's natural rhythm and can prevent you from getting proper rest at night.
Instead of going against your body's natural grain, embrace it and slow down a little.
Schedule your day appropriately, so you can accomplish tasks and be creative in the morning and then reflect and plan in the afternoon. If you continue to "power through", your productivity may actually be reduced, and you will have a more difficult time winding down at night. And then your next day may be negatively affected.
It requires a mindset shift to see that remembering, reflecting and planning is just as productive and effective as accomplishing tasks.
Maybe you can't use those whole 2 hours for reflection, but you should take some of that time to acknowledge what you have accomplished so far that day and plan for what you need to do in the future. This moment of reflection and looking ahead reduces stress, helps you to "digest" the day's events and propels you forward!
Adopt one or all of these simple, actionable steps to keep your energy up throughout the day and that stress low!
Written by Amber Gentry for The Healthy Moms Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.