By: Dr. Kathleen Regan, ND
Energy is the fundamental fuel you need to achieve your goals this year. In addition to discipline, focus, vision and other forces required to realize your goals, adequate amounts of energy are essential are essential for the endurance, focus and positivity needed to reach our goals.
The role energy plays in goal setting is paramount. Have you ever failed at a New Year’s resolution and experienced negative self-talk? ‘Lazy’, ‘Unmotivated’, ‘Unfocused’, ‘Depressed’ are some of the words people hear. Does this sound like you? If it does, ask yourself this important question:
On a scale of 1-10, how high are your daily energy levels? If the answer is less than 7/10, it is time to start increasing your ENERGY!
Feeling lazy, lethargic, unmotivated, unfocused, depressed and even anxious can all be symptoms of fatigue, caused by the overwhelming demands of daily life, which are physically, mentally and emotionally draining. The first step to reclaiming your energy is doing an ‘Energy Inventory’.
Go through your daily life and rate your activities in terms of which ones boost your energy and which ones deplete it. This typically relates to how much happiness or joy you experience when completing an activity. Create two columns: In Column A list energy enhancing activities, in Column B list energy draining activities.
How can I increase activities in Column A?
How can I reduce energy loss from activities in Column B?
Make it your goal patch up the areas where you leak energy and to explore areas where you build energy.
Go to Bed Before 10pm
‘Early to bed, early to rise’ the old saying goes. This isn’t just about early morning opportunity. People are often better rested if they sleep closer to when the sun sets. It is part of our natural rhythm. There are cascades of hormones released when the sun sets that help us sleep more deeply and repair more thoroughly – helping you to wake up a 10/10!
Drink More Water
Add one more glass of water to your daily routine. Water is essential for many biochemical reactions. When we are dehydrated it is easy to become fatigued. Tally up your water intake (don’t include coffee or alcohol – natural diuretics). Consuming less than 4 glasses of water per day can greatly drain your energy resources.
Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
How many? 8-10 servings. Seriously. Nutrients, antioxidants, fibre are just some of the reasons why fruit and veggies make us feel so much better. In fact, research has shown that just 5 servings of fruit and vegetables improves our mental health and well-being. If 8-10 sounds unrealistic than start with 5-6 servings. 1 serving equals a medium sized ball or 1 cup of loosely chopped fruit and vegetable.
Eat Evenly Spaced Meals Throughout the Day (Don’t skip meals)
Food is the fuel that ignites your energy. Skipping meals or eating irregularly can contribute to fatigue, especially if it becomes a habit. Food helps to send signals to the body that there is enough energy to complete basic tasks. If you have been eating irregularly or on an intermittent fasting diet and are still feeling tired or run-down, try to plan regularly timed meals for 4-6 weeks to see if energy improves.
Move Your Body 3x per Week for 30 Minutes
If you aren’t one to hit the gym, try increasing your movement. Walking is a simple way to get your body moving. Other activities include taking the stairs, gardening, yoga or anything that increases your heart rate. Better put – increase your heart rate while moving for a total of 30 minutes for at least 3 days of the week. Increasing movement has been shown to increase energy and does wonders for mental health!
The above tips are simple and relatively easy to implement. Don’t underestimate their power and don’t give up! Try to incorporate these habits for 6 weeks to see long-term and sustainable improvements.
Still Tired…. ? You might be a little low in energy packed nutrients OR you might be out of balance elsewhere in your body. It is time for a check-up and some lab work.
If it has been a while since you had a check-up it may be time to have some blood work done to see if there is a medical reason for your low energy.
Nutrient Deficiency: There are several nutrient deficiencies that commonly cause fatigue, including:
- Iron (Ferritin)
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D
Thyroid Function: Checking your ‘TSH’ or Thyroid Stimulating Hormone levels can help to rule out thyroid as a cause of low energy.
Adrenal Stress: Assessing the stress hormone, cortisol, throughout the day can help you understand if stress hormones are playing a role in low energy.
Metabolic Imbalances: Checking blood sugar and cholesterol (especially if you are over 35) can also help understand fluctuating energy levels.
Your naturopathic doctor can help guide you through your lab results and help you to understand the ways in which you can boost energy naturally! Building energy takes time but it is worth the investment as adequate energy is the cornerstone of motivation, focus, mood and endurance.