How to Keep Energy Levels High at Work
Words / Jan McLeod
Energy is the vitality you require for sustained effort, the effort you need to function day to day. It’s a great metric to use to check in on your day-to-day and week-to-week wellbeing. What is the quality of your energy like? Do you feel vital? Do you have sufficient energy to sustain day-to-day functioning? To help you fully understand the concept of energy, and how to use it to monitor and review your wellbeing, let’s explore the topic of energy management.
What is energy?
Vitality is the state of being strong and active. Combining this description with the earlier description of energy, energy can be described as your ability to be sustainably strong and active. It sounds reasonable. However, I believe this description of energy is incomplete. To fully understand it you need to delve deeper. Energy is measured by volume. It’s not static; it’s not a fixed amount you use and then replace. Rather, energy is dynamic. Your body is constantly producing energy — using energy — producing energy – using energy.
To understand what may be contributing to your inability to sustain reasonable energy balance, you need to understand what you use your energy for. When I ask this question, the most common answer I receive is that energy is for doing, specifically for being physical.
There are, in fact, four dimensions of energy
The first is physical, the energy you need for doing each day, for physically moving your body. The other dimensions are emotional energy, thinking or mental energy, and purpose energy. These four dimensions together provide you with total energy. Each dimension plays a specific role in enabling you to have vitality and wellbeing to function day to day. To fully understand energy management, you need to understand how much energy you use in each dimension, and what this means for your total energy production and use — and, ultimately, your wellbeing balance.
Emotional energy is used to relate, engage, influence, motivate or collaborate with other people. Thinking or mental energy is the energy you use to make decisions, particularly those that involve problem solving. Purpose energy is the energy used in aligning what you do each day in life with your long-term goals and priorities.
How to create sustainable energy
There’s a suite of strategies essential for producing sustainable wellbeing. I will focus on what I believe are three core strategies. They are the food you eat, the quality of your sleep, and the pace and intensity at which you work.
The food you eat provides you the raw resources your body needs to produce energy. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of fuel. However, it will also call upon the energy from protein and quality fats as required. To convert these raw resources into energy, your body needs key vitamins and micro-nutrients.
These include vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6 and magnesium found in a wide variety of food: think nuts, chicken, fish and fresh fruit and vegetables. You also need to think about how often you eat. You cannot drive your car with no petrol, just as you cannot function on insufficient food. Your body needs regular drops of food to continuously produce energy. You need three daily meals and possibly a snack to produce sustainable energy.
Your quality of your sleep dramatically impacts on your wellbeing. When you sleep your body recharges so you can start each day with your energy cup full. Invest in a quality sleep routine. Aim to go to bed at a time that allows for seven to eight-hours sleep. Ensure your bedroom is dark, cool and quiet and don’t use your phone as your alarm clock.
We become wired to our phones. Invest in an inexpensive travel clock and leave your phone in another room.
Pace and Intensity:
Finally, consider the pace and intensity you work at or go about your day. It will affect the sustainability of your wellbeing. I encourage you not to work at an intensity and pace that’s unrelenting. View completing the activities in your day as a long-distance run rather than a short and intense sprint. Aim to adjust your intensity and pace, take breaks and seek to spread your energy across your day.