Negativity, a terrible diet, terrible sleeping patterns, no social life… does this sound like you? If it does, then it’s a clear sign that you just aren’t looking after yourself. Be honest with yourself. How do you respond to the increasing demands of your life?
At work, you put in more hours. It seems to be the only area that gets the best of you. Is it really the best of you, though? Those long hours impact every aspect of your life and it leaves you emotionally, physically, and mentally drained.
While time may be limited, energy certainly isn’t. It’s something that you can renew, particularly when it comes to mental energy. One of the most efficient ways to tackle this is to change the behaviors that deplete most of your mental energy. From there, you can tackle the rest.
We have four different energies that we rely on – in addition to our mental energy, there is emotional energy, spiritual energy, and of course physical energy. They are all important, but a lack of mental energy has a knock-on effect on the rest of them. That’s why mental health days exist.
When it comes to physical energy, it’s easy to figure out how to look after yourself. Some of those same habits can contribute to renewing your mental energy. Mindfulness meditation can assist with your emotional energy, while your spiritual energy can be renewed through gratitude and reflection.
Renewing Your Mental Energy
What about your mental energy? There are a lot of different ways for you to manage and renew your mental energy. In fact, some of them contribute to your other energy sources.
1| Sleep Routine
Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night (ref.). While you sleep your body undergoes a reset. It’s when you heal, and it’s when your brain downloads the information of the day. A lack of sleep contributes to a lack of focus, memory issues, and bad decisions.
Additionally, poor sleep increases the risk of obesity, depression, anxiety, diabetes, and hypertension. So, it’s vital that you get plenty of sleep for every aspect of your health. If you consistently under-sleep for two weeks, it can seriously impact your performance. Think about exactly how much you struggle after a sleepless night.
You perform your work slower, your mind wanders more, and not only do you struggle to focus, but your memory escapes you. It’s like being drunk. In fact, the CDC believes that around 6,000 fatal car accidents each year are down to drowsy drivers (ref.).
You need sleep to renew your mental energy each day. So, if you know you have sleeping problems, it’s up to you to make changes to your sleep routine. There are plenty of ways that you can make improvements. The first is to look at your caffeine intake.
You may have fallen into the vicious cycle of fueling your day with caffeine and overdoing it to keep yourself up all night. After 2 pm, turn to decaf. You should also limit your screen time.
There are different ways to manage this. If you can’t pull yourself away from your tablet, you can get a blue light filter app to reduce the upset to your sleep. However, the ideal way to manage your screen time is to turn them out two hours before bed. Then, you can spend time reading, meditating or preparing for your day. Additionally, it’s important that you keep the same bedtime each night and set your alarm for the same time, even on your days off.
2| The First Hour
Think about how you spend your first waking hour. It has a serious impact on how your day will unfold. Does your alarm scare you awake? Or is it your kids that get you up? Is your morning complete chaos?
Do you head straight to the coffee pot before you can even hold a conversation? Is your phone the first thing you pick up, to check news or email? Do you even get out of bed before you slide your phone awake? Or, are you someone who jumps out of bed and rushes about until you head to work?
What if, your first hour was dedicated to calm? Instead of jumping awake you can choose an alarm that increases with volume so it’s a gradual wake up. Then, you can enjoy a spot of meditation or light stretching. You may want to just sit quietly with music or a book. This is also a great period of time to exercise in.
It’s a bit more of a challenge if you have small children, however, it is possible. It may mean that you need to go to bed earlier to get up before them. It will be worth it. Once they’re up you will be calm and ready to deal with the chaos.
An earlier rise means time to eat breakfast, get ready in plenty of time, and leave the house on schedule. This isn’t just an efficient way to manage your own mental energy and stress, it’s helpful for everyone in the house.
Think about the professional athletes who excel in their chosen sport. A good example would be tennis players and swimmers. For tennis players, they take a moment to focus after a shot. They shake off the previous point and refocus. Swimmers stand and shake their arms and legs to stay limber and loose, but focused. Think of that as your first hour. You can start right.
3| Mind & Body Practice
One of the biggest drains on your mental energy is when you allow it to disconnect from your body. So, part of renewing your mental energy is looking after your physical energy as well. Your body is much more than just the vessel that carts your brain around. The two are intrinsically linked.
Lacking awareness about your body is essentially inviting a depletion of your mental energy. A lack of awareness about your body leads to teeth grinding, clenched muscles, poor breathing, and strain that is simply unnecessary.
When you’re conscious of your body you will respond to its needs more appropriately. Failure to do so results in wasted effort and energy and ultimately, poor performances.
So, how can you keep your mind and body healthily linked? With practices such as yoga and meditation.
You may also be interested in branching out into martial arts. All of these are effective ways to bring your mind and body back together.
Yoga and martial arts are essentially meditation but in motion. They require you to control your mental energy and physical responses. When you have an awareness of your body and how it reacts to your environment you are better equipped to cope with stress and strife. Which, of course, contributes to the renewal of your mental energy.
Not enough can ever be said about the effectiveness and benefits of meditation. For mental energy it offers so much benefit, as it helps you clear your mind and literally drain all that noise out of it. Begin the practice, perfect it and use it daily to boost your focus, concentration and mind power.
5| Get In The Cold
Taking a walk in crisp cold air and breathing in fresh clean air gives your mind a great jolt, and renews your energy, focus and concentration.
6| Slow It Down
Have you ever noticed that when you are in a hurry and try to get through your tasks quickly everything seems to take you longer? That’s because when you rush you make more mistakes, which makes everything take much longer. It doesn’t stop there, though.
As this continues you grow in frustration, you start to get irritated and you descend into a day of total inefficiency. We all have days like that, where everything we touch seems to go wrong and the quicker, we try to fix it the worse it gets.
You can stop all of it in its tracks by slowing it all down. That means slowing your breathing down, as well as your movements and your mind. This will give you the time you need to refocus and regain balance.
By slowing down to incorporate calm and clarity to the situation, you will see a difference in your performance. This is a habit you can create and use when you start to feel rushed and stressed out.
7| Regular Short Breaks
This is particularly important if you are working on a large or complicated project. When work requires your total attention and complete focus it’s easy to burn out. You can’t maintain that level of focus for a sustained period of time so, it’s important to take breaks. Now, we all have different attention spans and rhythms. For some, their focus is greatest in the morning. For others, it’s later in the day.
So, you should pay attention to yours and adjust your day where possible. When you are in a period of great focus you can work for a longer period of time. For example, you may want to work for a period of an hour or 90 minutes before you take a short break. It may be a shorter period of time in your less attentive periods.
Regardless, the break allows you to renew your mental energy, and when you return to the project you will be more focused. The break will allow you to grab a healthy snack, take a bathroom trip or even enjoy a bit of mindful meditation. It will improve your productivity and your performance. Particularly during those times where you struggle to focus. For a lot of people, the late afternoon is a struggle.
Sadly, many Americans have a love/hate relationship with food. They love food, but they hate the healthy stuff. While this isn’t true for everyone, there is more to it than that. When we are tired and stressed out our bodies naturally crave an energy boost.
The quickest way to get that is with foods that are high in fats and sugars. The problem is that boost is only temporary and when the crash comes you will likely grab another unhealthy snack for a further boost.
Food is an energy source, but you have to choose the right options if you want to truly renew your mental energy. Luckily, we have some easy tips for you. The first is to keep healthy snacks with you wherever you go. That way, wherever you are you know you can energize without turning to chocolate or energy drinks.
It’s also important that you don’t allow yourself to get overly hungry. This is when you start to get irritated and make bad choices.
You may be more suited to eating small portions more regularly. This is if you’re one of those people that get hungry often and intensely. Small portions throughout the day can help prevent any blood sugar drops and spikes.
Additionally, it’s important that you look at the balance of your diet. It’s important to strike a healthy balance between fresh fruit, vegetables, as well as whole grains, and protein. Eat a clean diet and your mind will thank you. Whatever you do, avoid sugary drinks and processed foods! That is dead food that is a dead weight around your neck.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, you should be trying to exercise regularly. How regularly? Experts suggest 150 minutes of cardio or 75 of strength training. (ref.). Ideally, you’ll mix it up to create a balance of both.
Strength exercise is particularly important for women as they are the most likely to suffer from osteoporosis as they age. Strength exercises can increase bone density. While you don’t need to join a gym to fulfill your exercise commitments, it may help you vary your routine.
As we get older, the need for exercise is more important. Our bodies are changing, and our metabolism isn’t quite what it used to be.
You can start small and work your way up to more intensive stuff. It may be that walking around the block is a great place to start and when you’re feeling more energetic you can join the gym.
If you’re just getting started, then we have some tips for you. The first is to start with an exercise that you really enjoy. If you love to swim or cycle, then start there. You should make it a regular thing and once you do you won’t have to push yourself to do it, you will be drawn to it.
From there, you can introduce new exercises and habits that will improve your physical energy. Exercise is key to improving focus and boosting mental energy.
10| Let Go
Let go of all the things you cannot control in life. Obsessing over things you can’t control is a huge energy sucker and a totally useless one since it’s a dead-end no-win game. Instead, put your energy into what you can control, and you will find that you save yourself a lot of heartache and mental energy to boot.
11| Be Present
Obsessing over the past and worrying about the future are both huge drains of mental energy and are total wastes of your time and energy. Stay present in the moment, that is really all you ever have in life is this moment.
It’s easy to drain your mental energy when you get caught up in a cycle of negative thinking. It can be difficult to break that habit, too. The thing is, that you can break the habit. While you can replace those negative thoughts with positive affirmations, which is a great habit to create, you can also keep them at bay with gratitude.
It isn’t just your own negativity that can drag you down, though, it’s also the negativity of others. You hear their “poor me” and it becomes your “poor me” and you are stuck in the negativity loop.
Gratitude can help you zap that negativity into submission. Whether you choose to keep a journal or simply say them out loud, take a moment each day to think about what you must be grateful for. It doesn’t have to be anything major, it could be as simple as getting the last banana in the fruit bowl. Even on the worst day, you can find something to be grateful for.
13| Declutter Your Mind
When you are too busy, your mind becomes cluttered, just like that closet that is never organized. Emails, texts, work, kids, social media, television, there is a lot of the noise in the world, and all that noise bogs down your mind, and saps it of its energy.
Use tools like calendars, to-do lists and other organizational methods to keep as much outside of your mind as you can.
It takes a lot of mental energy to hold on to grudges, whether it’s against yourself or someone else. You don’t need to find that person and extend your forgiveness to them, but you do need to forgive them within yourself. That’s the only way to free yourself from the negativity grudges bring. Recovery is a big part of forgiving yourself.
One of the reasons we tend to hold grudges against ourselves is because of the mistakes that we have made. However, there is recovery in acknowledging failure and healing. Then, that’s where you begin again.
15| Making Habits, One At A Time
The information we have provided you above will help you create new, healthy habits that will restore your mental energy. However, you will doom yourself to failure if you try to institute every one of them first thing tomorrow morning.
So, when should you introduce a new one? When the first one is something that you do without even thinking about it. You may notice, though, that as you start to get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis the diet piece falls into place. You won’t be as drawn to the unhealthy foods that you were living on before. This is just the natural response of your body not needing a constant energy boost any more.
It will also make the exercise piece much easier to get started. You won’t be as easily fatigued, and your body will be able to heal much quicker after workouts. So, you should look at all these suggestions as pieces of the bigger puzzle. They start to fall into place once you find a home for the first one.
This is what it takes to build healthy habits that will renew your mental energy. The behaviors that you indulge, the habits you build, and the rituals that you follow all feed your mental energy or they sap it.
It’s up to you to determine how you fuel your mental energy, but it isn’t good enough to take steps to renew it if you continue the bad habits that are stealing it out from under you.
So, while there are plenty of tips and hints on how best to renew it, it’s a lot of work and will require profound commitment. It’s simple – you squelch bad habits with good ones and continue to build on your positives.
You may feel like tearing your hair out sometimes, but you don’t have to keep feeling like that. It’s a sure sign that you are allowing your mental energy to deplete itself regularly and quickly. Take a moment to think about the bad habits that we mentioned here that you know you are guilty of.
You don’t think about pouring a coke or downing an energy drink in the evening. It seems like a good idea, to perk yourself up as you head home. How will you stay awake until bedtime and enjoy family time if you don’t wake yourself up now?
The key to unlocking every positive step you can, is sleep. It has such a monumental effect on every aspect of your life, that getting into a sleep routine is vital to your mental health and mental energy.
Once you change your bedtime habits and create a healthy routine in the run-up to bed, then you will notice a difference in the other areas of your life. From there, you can branch out and make other positive changes.
Remember, it isn’t just about renewing your mental energy. You also need to take your other energies into consideration. When you feed your physical energy, your mental energy benefits. The same is true of your spiritual and emotional energies. They all feed into each other and ignoring them means that you are ultimately ignoring your mental energy.
So, how do you renew your mental energy? Do you already practice some of the tips that we mentioned above or are you struggling to keep up?
We all go through difficult patches and it’s even more important that we look to renew our mental energy so that we can smoothly navigate even the roughest of times in our life.
There are a lot of factors that contribute to a drain on your mental energy. The key is learning how to manage those contributing factors.
When you combine that with the advice we discussed above, you are on your way to maintaining high levels of mental energy to handle anything that life can throw at you.