Recently, and not for the first time, I had someone contact me and ask about maintaining what appears to be my high energy level. (Thank you Whitney.) It is true that I always seem to have had more than my share of energy, hence my propensity for running, jumping and climbing trees when I was a kid, my nickname, The Shari Action Doll, when I was modeling, and now, in my fifties, my delight in playing hide and seek with the kids for hours on end.
I have always found it easier to maintain a more productive schedule when I can stay active, and as a writer, that isn’t always easy. Yes, there are days when I can write for eight hours and feel annoyed when I have to interrupt the flow for something as mundane as food or a bathroom break, but those days are not the norm. Usually, I find it best if I write in the morning, preferably after a hike, and use the afternoon for editing or reviewing because my rpms seem to slow from a roar to a casual idle. If I don’t do some kind of physical activity before I begin writing, my endurance drops drastically. The human body was not designed to sit behind a computer screen, it was designed to walk, to run, to hunt, to gather, to keep moving, and so we should.
I also have days when I’m dragging. When, mid-hike, I could lie down and take a nap. When, regardless of deadlines and desires, I simply cannot find the strength to create or even take much of an interest.
But those times are usually caused by some kind of depression brought on by general bad behavior of the world around me, or someone specific, even me when my ego or anger gets the best of me. I cannot, for instance, watch the news and then go to sleep. Meanness, cruelty, aggression and apathy all affect me adversely and strongly. I’m super sensitive to stupidity, selfishness and rudeness, as though I have allergies to mean people, and confrontations drain and exhaust me much the way a fever or a flu would. That does not mean I won’t meet those challenges and take them on, just that it costs life force to fight evil, especially in ourselves.
Getting away from the greedy suck of depression, for me, has several steps. First, acknowledge it, and the effect it is having on you physically. Do you feel weak? Are your shoulders an inch higher than they should be? Does your stomach burn? Pay attention to identifying those effects and spend a few minutes thanking your body for those warning signs and then let them go by saying, “Thank you, I get the message, but I don’t need this anymore.” The second, and most important step, is do something. Anything that is active. Watching TV or talking on the phone do not count. Pot a plant, walk to the mailbox, even going out to lunch can be good, though medicating with food should be an exception not the rule. Next, count your blessings, be grateful for all that you have. If you don’t have much right now, be grateful that you have the intelligence and consciousness to be able to observe that, and line up your possibilities. Finally, set yourself a project or goal and make some small step toward it. Want to write a book? Write 20 ‘first lines,’ or make up two interesting characters out of people you know. Want to get in shape? Spend ten minutes walking in place or do some leg lifts while you are on the phone. It doesn’t, and sometimes shouldn’t, be a big or daunting first step, just something small but pointed toward your final goal. Just plain turning yourself in the right direction can be a huge step, and the fear of taking that step is often the only thing that keeps us from accomplishing our goals. It feels good to start.
Now for a few ways to keep up that energy.
- Cut back on caffeine. Go ahead and have that morning cup, but that’s it! No teas, sodas, or caffeine rich foods for the rest of the day. On top of depleting your adrenal glands, which means you have no adrenaline when you need it, caffeine interrupts your sleep patterns, and a good night’s sleep is crucial to energy.
- Eat well. Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, grains and low-fat protein. Eat smaller portions, (digesting heavy foods makes you sleepy) and eat more often to spread the fuel evenly through your day.
- Exercise. I cannot over-accentuate this enough. It does not have to be a excruciating trip to the crowded gym, no special equipment is required, and exerting yourself until you drip sweat, puke, or pass out are completely absurd. You need to move, to make your blood flow, to increase your heart rate until you can’t complete a full sentence, but can still hold a conversation. If you do something active for even 20 minutes a day, you will have twice as much energy. Don’t forget that a few stretches will help you keep in touch and check in with your body!
- Do what you love. Even if you have a job that seems to suck the soul from your body, take some time during your day to do something you love. Cook a simple recipe, stare up at the clouds, knit, polish your car, what ever it is, find something to look forward to, and if it’s something creative and productive, all the better!
- Hug, kiss, have sex, laugh and sing. All of these things, done in a loving sharing way, help eliminate stress and increase endorphins in your body, so you feel better, so you do more. If you are not in a relationship try putting on some music and singing from your gut. Just belt it out. If you want a quick fix, try this. Sit down, put on hand on your stomach, just below your belly button. Now, make a sound like, “Huh, huh, huh!” from there, forcing out the air. Keep doing this and eventually, I can almost guarantee, you will laugh. The physical action stimulates the response that normally results in that physical action. Just like smiling releases hormones into your body that make you feel good.
All righty then. There’s a few ideas, but I want to add this—sometimes you have to eat macaroni and cheese, cry, and go back to bed. There are times that all of us are just overwhelmed and need to hunker down and heal and rejuvenate. When you are sick, you have to pamper yourself and give your body the chance to channel its energy into healing. It’s the same sometimes for stress, depression and even lethargy, but don’t wallow!!
It’s very important to put things in perspective. The next time you allow your grievances to resonate too loudly and too long, recognize that you are identifying with being a victim. Not good. You are not a victim, you are the boss of you. Take those bitchy little complaints, make an appointment with them, and keep it!! When the allotted time come, sit those annoyances, fears and or worries down, and tell them they are not allowed to interrupt your fabulous life. After that, every time they coming knocking on your mental attitude, tell them it is not their turn and close the door. They don’t get to take up all your love and energy.
The bottom line here is, take care of yourself, look at the bright side, and do what you love!
Wishing you luck, direction, and the energy of bouncing ball!
Shari, April 3rd, 2014