Stop for a moment and ponder: How are you feeling today? In a society where we have enough food to fuel our bodies, warm homes in which to sleep, and lattes to help kick start our mornings, it seems that many of us are simply feeling exhausted.
In fact, according to a Radboud University survey of over 20,000 people, approximately 30 percent of doctors visits involve complaints about being tired all of the time. In the US, at least 20 percent of people report having experienced fatigue “intense enough to interfere with living a normal life” while workers who are unproductive because of fatigue cost US employers more than $100 billion a year.
Are you experiencing optimal energy levels in your life? Low energy levels can, of course, be linked to sleep deficiencies, but what if you’re getting enough sleep and still feeling listless? Perhaps, energy is leaking out from dissonance in the areas of your waking life. To optimize your energy, improve your life, and safeguard your health and wellness, follow these three recommendations:
- Improve Your Balance:
If your life is unbalanced, you are likely devoting too much energy to a single area of your life. For many of us, our desire to succeed professionally can take priority over time with our families, time developing our hobbies, or time devoted to spiritual life. To determine if you’re living a life in balance, take this life wheel assessment. Once you’ve identified where your gaps are, you can work to balance each segment of your life though implementing more structure.
- Implement Structure:
If you don’t structure your life, you’re giving away your power and allowing outside influences to command your day’s priorities. If being mindful is important to you, structure your day to prioritize a yoga or meditation practice. If you want to be a better partner, set aside time each day to fully connect and communicate with your spouse. If you want to sleep better, disconnect from your phone, television, and other electronics and create a nightly sleep routine. While making these strides toward a more balanced life may seem selfish at first, realize that consistent, high quality self-care is the best way for you to show up fully in all the other areas of your life.
- Engage With Flow:
What if your life is better balanced and you’re implementing an improved daily structure to prioritize what’ most important to you….but you’re still feeling out of sync?
According to psychologist Martin Seligman–commonly known as the founder of Positive Psychology–flow is one crucial piece of cultivating authentic happiness. In addition to regularly experiencing positive emotion and finding deeper meaning, flow means “being one with the music, time stopping, and the loss of self-consciousness during an absorbing activity.” Seligman continues, “I refer to a life lived with these aims as the ‘engaged life.’ Engagement is different, even opposite, from positive emotion; for if you ask people who are in flow what they are thinking and feeling, they usually say, ‘Nothing.’ In flow, we merge with the object.”
Is what you’re doing each day allowing you to, at least, experience moments of deep, effortless involvement? Or, does it feel like you are constantly pushing a heavy boulder up a hill? To get into the flow: 1.) Focus on being mindful and completing a task or activity for your own enjoyment, instead of grasping at accomplishment as a means to an end. 2.) Whether at work or at home, identify projects and activities that are aligned with your personal interests and strengths. 3.) Challenge yourself. The easiest point to enter into a flow state exists where the level of challenge is high and the skills that you have to meet that challenge are also high.
What activities make you feel most energized, most invigorated, most in the flow?