If you’re like most people, you don’t have as much energy as you want, your sleep quality isn’t what it should be, you struggle to stay in shape, and you feel as if you’ve tried everything to change that. The good news is there are plenty of things you can do to boost your energy and feel better relatively quickly. The bad news is that our wellbeing is under constant attack from every aspect of our so-called modern lives.
We live in a society that pushes to accomplish as much as possible with minimal effort. Let’s not be ungrateful- western culture has produced unprecedented advantages for everyone. But because so much work has gone into streamlining every aspect of our lives, we’re going to have to do some work in order to get the most out or ourselves.
To that end, here are 10 ways you can boost your energy and be more your real self in the shortest amount of time.
1. Say no to Sugar
There are no two ways around it. Sugar is very bad for every part of your body, and it’s addictive. The body’s optimal fuel is ketones, and you produce them naturally when you aren’t pumping yourself up with carbohydrates. Your body likes ketones so much that is stores them up while you consume sugar. What you want to do is get your body running on fats and not sugar.
If you succeed in getting into ketogenesis, you will go through a period of withdrawal. This is called the “keto flu” and lasts two to three days before the switch is complete. But it’s more accurate to think of this as withdrawals. Just like when an alcoholic is coming off booze- the body is trying to switch over from using alcohol as fuel and get back to using food. Remember, alcohol metabolizes as sugar- and sugar takes over our energy system in almost exactly the same way.
2. Make Friends with the Sun
If you’ a night owl, this can be a challenge. But the fact remains that making visual contact with sunlight is an important way our systems help us to be ready for daytime activity. The more sunlight you get, the less prone you will be to experience lethargy, depression, and vitamin D deficiency.
Sunlight activates our brains and bodies in ways that nothing else can duplicate. The importance of getting the right amount of sunlight is the reason that people whose ancestors come from different continents tend to have different amounts of melanin in their skin. I don’t want you to get sunburns and risk skin cancer. But you should try to get up with the sun on most days, open those curtains and make sure you get some of that sweet sweet sunlight in your system.
3. Spend Time with Hunger
Many Americans rarely, if ever, experience the feeling of hunger. Our bodies are optimized to endure long, long periods of famine. Unfortunately, that also means we are powerfully driven to consume calorie-rich foods that will go to our hips and bellies for later use. You can think of mother nature as a manic prepper who is always trying to strap extra granola bars to our butts, thighs, and stomachs just in case we get trapped in a desert canyon. Hey, it could happen.
Today, fitness gurus talk about the virtues of different fasting schedules. Any of them will be a challenge to stick with to the point that you see real results. So you should pick a fasting schedule that’s best for you by experimenting with different ones. One popular fasting schedule that’s pretty forgiving is the 9/15 intermittent fasting schedule. That’s a 9-hour daily eating window followed by 15 hours of fasting. The fact that you sleep through 8 of those 15 hours makes it pretty easy to follow.
4. Get Enjoyable Exercise Every Day
Most of us used to think of exercise as optional. We would only do it if we want to live to a very old age, or if we wanted to be an athlete. Now, more people understand that exercise is an important part of how we must maintain our good health. You should think of it like brushing your teeth – mandatory.
Okay, but if you’re like most people, your motivation for exercise is a scarce resource. So you should really take it in moderation. If you loathe working out, keep it light – just do something every day. Even if it’s only a brisk walk around the block or fifty crunches each morning. Do something… anything! If you can do a little bit of exercise every day for 90 days you will have formed a patterned network in your brain. That means it will become a habit. The most important thing is getting into the habit- you can work up to better quality workouts after the habit is established.
The thing that’s really important to understand is that physical activity, like exposure to sunlight, is an important part of how we can stay motivated. People suffering from depression who tried daily exercise responded as well or better than those who took anti-depressants. The only difference is the people who got exercise instead of Zoloft didn’t kill their livers, incur migraines, risk increased rates of cancer, or commit suicide.
5. Watch Out for Screen Sickness
Computers are force multipliers that enable us to hone our thinking, boost our cooperative networks, and give us access to vast amounts of information. They’re also super fun to play with!
The trouble is the blue light that comes from electronic screens has many of the same effects on our nervous systems as sunlight. That means, screen light wakes us up. So if you’re playing with a computer, (and yes, smartphones and tablets are computers), at night- you’re fouling up your sleep/wake cycle.
Try to stop looking at screens two hours before going to bed. If you just can’t manage it, there are helpful programs like RedShift that change the light quality of your screen to make them less of a barrier to proper sleep.
6. Learn to Meditate
If you’ve got problems with anxiety, concentration, low energy, depression- or any number of such problems- taking up a regular meditation practice can do wonders for your quality of life. In meditation, we learn to place our attention on the innermost working of our minds and our habits of feeling. It is a way to quiet the runaway thought patterns that can cause us so much grief in our everyday lives.
In meditation, we take that constant voice that’s always rattling away in our heads and put it into its proper place. We learn to look at the constant narrative created by our brain as a biological function- rather than as the thing that we ourselves are. In so doing, we gradually learn that we are not a racing, manic, stream of pained consciousness… we are something else entirely.
7. Sit to the Limit
Siting is the new smoking. As a professional freelance writer- I know better than anyone that the pressure to sit can be extremely strong. If you work at a desk, you’ve got a big problem. It means you spend almost ALL of your time sitting. Sitting causes blood and other fluids to pool up and stagnate. This leads to all kinds of problems.
The good news is you can reverse the heath deleting effects of too much sitting by just standing up for thirty seconds every half hour. Set a recurring alarm on your smart potato to remind you just to stand and take a very short walk every thirty minutes.
If you’re very clever, this can take the place of other more distracting distractions and actually let you be more productive at your desk job.
8. Help Someone
Behavior studies show that giving someone else a hand is extremely stimulating. It makes us feel valuable, which really gives us a huge dopamine boost. When it comes to motivation, dopamine is king- the trick is to get your brain to give you as much as possible- naturally of course.
Lending someone a hand- unless you’re a psychopath, in which case I cannot help you- is like the cocaine of natural behavior-based dopamine boosters. So, any time you see someone in need, pitch in!
9. Clean up Your Bedroom
You might not have noticed, but every little thing that’s not right in your home- particularly in your bedroom- is subtly bringing you down. Our living space is a direct reflection of our internal condition- and we subconsciously know it. The clinical psychiatrist Jordan Peterson tells us that cleaning your room is a first step to making every aspect of our lives better. You begin with the smallest problem near you, fix it, and make a habit of fixing small problems. In time, we learn to fix larger and larger problems. Do this every day and in a year’s time, your friends and family may wonder what basement the real you is tied up in.
10. Listen to Music
Hunter S. Thompson said, “Music is fuel…” Music is a sound based symbol of resonance, organization, synergy, the flow state, and motion. A good song has the opposite effect of nagging and persistent thoughts. It tells us a story of our lives that ennobles us, it makes ordinary moments extraordinary, and it activates everything in you that’s creative.
If you’re a news junkie, you might feel like listening to music is lazy. If that’s the case, you need to think of it as medicine and set time aside to listen to all of your favorite songs. And remember, if you think you don’t like music- you’re wrong.