When your energy level is low, everything feels like a chore — even things would ordinarily make you happy.
There are many good habits we should follow to keep our energy levels high, like exercising and getting enough sleep.
In my forthcoming book about habits, I write a lot about how to use habits to boost energy — but also how to use energy to strengthen habits. In particular, I think we need to make a special effort to foster habits of the “Foundation Four” — the ones that help us to sleep, move, eat and drink right, and unclutter. When we pay attention to these areas, we make sure we have enough energy to use our self-command to keep our good habits.
But what if you need more energy right now? And you don’t want to wait for the reward for your good habits to kick in?
Try one of these strategies:
1. Go outside into the sunlight. Light deprivation is one reason people feel tired. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning. And while you’re outside…
2. Go for a brisk walk. Even a ten-minute walk can give you a surge of energy and decreased tension.
3. Act with energy. We think we ACT because of the way we FEEL, but often we FEEL because of the way we ACT. Trick yourself into feeling energetic by moving more quickly, pacing while you talk on the phone, and putting more energy into your voice.
4. Listen to your favorite zippy song. Hearing stimulating music is an easy, reliable way to get an instant lift.
5. Talk to an energetic friend. Not only do we gain energy from interacting with other people, we also – in what’s called “emotional contagion” — “catch” their emotions. Instead of infecting others with your draggy mood, try to lift yourself by catching the energy of a boisterous friend.
6. Tackle an item on your to-do list. Maybe you need to drive to an out-of-the-way store; or add the last, difficult touches to a homemade gift; or make a phone call to a difficult relative. You’ll be amazed by the huge rush of energy you get when it’s crossed off your list. If you’re having trouble, try doing it first thing in the morning. The night before, decide what you’re going to do, then get up and do it.
7. Clean up. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. If you feel overwhelmed and listless, try tidying up. No heavy scrubbing, just tidy the surfaces. Making your surroundings more pleasant will help to give you energy — plus, making visible improvements is a booster, too.
8. Jump! Yes, jump up and down a few times. I just started doing this, and it’s amazing how energizing it is. Or, if you feel too silly, run down the stairs.
9. Note of caution: people often try to use food to boost their low energy. This obviously helps if you’re actually hungry (and in my house, we constantly monitor people’s hunger levels, because we all get so “hangry” when we’re hungry), but if you’re not hungry, eating ice cream out of the container — tempting as it is — won’t really help.
“Energy is eternal delight,” William Blake wrote, and it’s surprising how much sheer energy level can affect the quality of the happiness of a day.
What am I forgetting? Have you found any good strategies for a quick mood boost?