A feeling of energy is a key to feeling happy. Studies show that when you feel energetic, you feel much better about yourself. On the other hand, when you feel exhausted, tasks that would ordinarily make you happy—like putting up holiday decorations, getting ready to go to a party, or planning a trip—make you feel overwhelmed and blue.
When my energy feels at a low ebb, I try one of these techniques (well, first I drink something with caffeine in it, but if I feel like I need to take further steps, I try these strategies):
1. Exercise—even a quick ten-minute walk will increase your energy and boost your mood. This really works! Try it! People often say they’re too tired to exercise, but in fact, unless you’re exercising at a very intense level, exercise tends to boost energy rather than deplete it.
2. Listen to lively music. This is one of the quickest, easiest ways to get a jolt of energy.
3. Get enough sleep. If the alarm blasts you awake every morning, you’re not getting enough sleep—and it matters. Most adults need at least seven hours each night. Don’t kid yourself about how much sleep you need! (Here are some tips for getting good sleep.)
4. Act energetic. Research shows that when people move faster, their metabolism speeds up. Also, because the way we act influences the way we feel (to an almost uncanny degree), acting with energy will make you feel more energetic. Stand up while talking on the phone, walk more quickly, speak with more animation.
5. Talk to friends. We get a real charge from connecting with other people. I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling low, and then run into a friend on the street, I walk away feeling much more energetic. Reach out if you need a boost. This is true for introverts and extroverts alike.
6. Get something done. Crossing a nagging chore off your to-do list provides a big rush of energy. For a huge surge, clean out a closet. You’ll be amazed at how great you feel afterward. A friend once told me, “Every to-do list should include one item that can be crossed off in the first five minutes.” If that’s all you can do, do it; you’ll feel better.
7. Skip the food strategy. It’s tempting to reach for a carton of ice cream when you’re feeling listless, but in the end, all those extra calories will just drag you down. In general, be wary of the urge to treat yourself when you’re feeling low.
Energy (or lack of energy) is contagious. If you feel energetic, you’ll help the people around you feel energetic, too. And that makes them feel happier. In fact, in his excellent book, The No A***ole Rule, Bob Sutton reports that being an energizer was one of the strongest predictors of a positive performance evaluation at work. (This is related to the Radiators vs. Drains distinction.)
Have you found any good, quick strategies for boosting your energy? Do you agree that your energy affects your happiness?