The way I approach the problem of multiple priorities is by focusing on just one main metric: my energy.” – Scott Adams, millionaire, and bestselling author
One of every ten people reading this post will admit they have problems keeping their energy levels high most or even some of the time. Only 11 percent of 10,000 surveyed US citizens said they feel energetic on A daily basis, according to Tom Rath, author of Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life. So, I made my research and here are four tips for you to follow if you wish to feel more energetic and productive —ALL backed by research.
1. Fix your sleep problems
Not getting enough sleep at night sleep often leaves you feeling tired and grumpy. According to a study by King’s College London, not enough night sleep can make you eat an extra 385 on average each day. Another study by the University of Chicago found that lack of sleep may hinder your metabolism, reduce your capacity to perform, process and store carbohydrates and create changes that resemble the effects of advances aging or the early stages of diabetes.
- Try to be as relaxed as possible before going to bed: Also, meditating for 10-15 minutes before going to bed can add to your sleep quality —according to this 2011 study.
- Only associate your bed with sleep and sex: Turn off your phone, TV, and computer and do some yoga or meditate before sleeping. Meditation precisely is prescribed to help people with insomnia sleep better.
- Sleep at a fixed daily schedule, aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night and try to only associate your bed with sleep and sex.
- Avoid too much caffeine before bed, drink chamomile tea (an excellent natural sedative) and eat foods rich in serotonin, such as almonds, cheese, and turkey, before bed.
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2. Do more meaningful things
In 2014, a team of researchers decided to measure the difference between giving money to a family member (an act that creates meaning) and keeping it (a self-fulfilling act). The team used fMRI scans to measure how participants’ brains reacted to each act.The result? Not only those who donated the money felt better, but they were more energetic and less stressed out compared to the other group.
Finding meaning to one’s life doesn’t always mean giving money away. You can gain more energy by finding reasons to why you should get up every morning.
You can find happiness in a cup of hot chocolate on a rainy Monday, but without purpose, the stress will wipe away your energy level. As Rath says, “ When participants in a study led by the University of North Carolina’s were happy but lacked meaning in their lives (defined as pursuing a purpose bigger than self), they exhibited a stress-related gene pattern that is known to activate an inflammatory response. They had the same gene expression pattern as people dealing with constant adversity have.”
You will be more energetic, and thus more productive if you just choose a goal or a purpose at any given time. It’s what Professor Teresa Amabile from Harvard Business School have found after assessing 12,000 diary entries from more than 200 workers in one of her studies.
Let’s be clear; the happier you are, the more energetic you become. And part of your happiness/sadness depends largely on how well you interact with people. Studies suggest that people often describe social events as their most influential memories. So, basically, you don’t want to be lonely. According to this study by the University of Michigan, the lack of social support and a low sense of belonging both leads to depression.
The key is to have meaningful relationships with people. And no, you don’t have to be a party animal to achieve happiness. According to a 2011 study by Indiana University, introverts can gain the same mental benefits their extroverted peers have by being more goal-oriented and relying on building deeper connections with family.
How your friends approach life also affects your happiness —and energy— which is why you should pick happy, positive and ambitious people to mingle with. According to a Harvard study that looked at nearly 5,000 individuals over a period of 20 years, one’s happiness triggers a chain reaction that can be measured up to three degrees. In other words, your happiness will affect your friends, your friends’ friends, and your friends’ friends’ friends.
Studies also found that having a close friend at work is more important than most people think. According to one Gallup study, those who had a workplace best-friend were seven times as likely to engage in their jobs. Cool, isn’t it?
So, try to aim for at least four great human interactions during the day. It’s the number researchers believe will more likely make you feel excited.
4. Junk food makes you lazy, so cut it down
The fatter you are, the lazier you get. It’s not because of some mental deficiency you have, but because junk food makes you far less active than you think, as suggested by several studies including this 2014 study by UCLA.
Two groups of 32 study rats were served either a healthy, unprocessed diet or junk rat food that is low in quality and relatively high on sugar. Less than halfway through the experiment, the junk rats were showing a significant increase in both weight and laziness. Both groups were assigned to specific tasks yet the junk rats were less efficient, took longer breaks that were almost twice as long as the lean ones.
The study suggests that people get fat not because they’re disinterested in taking good care of themselves but because what they eat makes them lazy and unable to exercise.
“Overweight people often get stigmatized as lazy and lacking discipline. We interpret our results as suggesting that the idea commonly portrayed in the media that people become fat because they are lazy is wrong. Our data suggest that diet-induced obesity is a cause, rather than an effect, of laziness,” says Aaron Blaisdell, the leading author and psychology professor at UCLA.