Whenever I approach any problem I stop and ask myself three things:
Have I slept?
Have I eaten lately?
Have I moved my body today?
If the answer to any of these questions is “No” I address it and get back to the matter at hand. I know myself and I know these simple life essentials are my foundation and the way I handle anything can be solely determined by how recent my last snack was. The day to day challenges, simple or difficult, are best accomplished with a receptive frame of mind. It is important to remember how basic our bodies truly are and I mean ABCs basic. We need a few crucial elements to subsist; however, we shouldn’t merely just survive, we should thrive.
Naturally, life can be complicated, so let’s break down the fundamentals of maintaining ourselves. Our bodies are the vessels in which we experience the world and when we run on empty, the tool doesn’t work as effectively. I am going to provide you with a few easy tricks to recharge, focus and maintain your energy.
HANGRY | being angry in the absence of food.
I never leave home without a meal bar in my bag because I know how quickly I can turn into a grumpy Gus (to put it lightly) when I am hungry. Blood sugar can drop at any moment and for myself, this is a very serious issue. Oddly enough, many people do not associate their irritable behavior with a necessary blood sugar boost. Hanger is a VERY real thing. Be an adult and eat something, and eat frequently. Here a few solutions to Hanger:
Bar Box | Toss in an assortment of healthy goodies you know you will be happy to devour in a cute accessible container. Replenish supplies each time your stock is low. ALWAYS have one of these puppies in your daily travel bag. In fact, if you want to be the bell of the ball, carry 2-3 bars in your bag and share one with a friend or co-worker you are meeting with; most likely, they need a spike too. I promise your ideas will flow more smoothly with a little sustenance in your belly.
Carry Water | Snag a few water bottles you find irresistible, drink up, and refill, refill, refill. Loads of people mistake hunger with dehydration. Duh, snack often, but drink even more. Even if you have the world’s tiniest bladder and will need to pee 98 times in the next hour (a.k.a. me). Water is essential for the proper circulation of nutrients in the body and for this to happen, we have to stay hydrated. Water is by far my favorite beverage, but if you find it hard to swallow (see what I did there) add a little zest of lemon, lime or orange. Here are a few suggestions to help you remember to drink more water during your day.
- If you have a problem drinking water from the tap, invest in a water filter.
- Use an app that will remind you when it is time to drink.
- Find a couple of water bottles you fall madly in love with and make them another appendage. Wherever you go, your water bottle joins you.
- Whenever you get up from your desk, take a drink. Whenever you sit back down, take a drink. This will become a habit faster than you think.
- Workout with your water bottle nearby and take a swig between each interval.
- Always order a glass of water when you eat out. You can order other beverages but focus on your water as well. A rule of thumb is a 2:1 ratio. Drink two glasses of water for each glass of soda or other beverage.
- Make it a goal to finish your entire glass of water at each meal.
- Take a drink of water every time you are stuck at a red light.
- Never enter a meeting without your water bottle.
- Make it a drinking game and pick a common word or phrase you hear in your workplace and take a swig of water each time you hear the word or phrase.
Nut Bowl | Get one adorable bowl (medium to large) and fill it with an assortment of nuts. Hit up the nut aisle in your favorite grocery store (shop local) and make like your merry neighborhood squirrel.
- Suggestions: Raw almonds (unsalted) | Sunflower Seeds | Cashews | Dark Chocolate-Covered Almonds | Peanut Butter filled Pretzels | Mini Peanut Butter Cups | Dark Chocolate Chunks for good measure.
The key to making a good mix is to make it an assortment you will want to sink your hands into ALL long day. Put it near your desk, coffee table or kitchen table (you get the idea) and snag a handful each time you pass. These little guys can supply you with a significant amount of energy.
HIBERNATION | Sleep is a biggie for me and I have struggled with sleep since I was a tiny tot. I have tried a ridiculous amount of remedies over the years but to each their own sometimes. Sleep is such an interesting little beast, and you can google the hell out of it, read one article and find completely contradicting information in the next. I find sleep is personal and tailored to the individual. Yes, we feel pressure to sleep when it is "time to sleep" and most of us follow work schedules or have children who rule this realm. I am not here to tell you when or how to sleep, but how to USE sleep. But, first a little history:
Eight Hour Sleep Myth | I have researched sleep an odd amount and I stumbled upon this sobering little article last year that drastically challenged my perspective on sleep. Psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted various fascinating sleep experiments in the early 1990's. (find more info HERE). I was extremely interested in his discovery of humans sleeping in two distinct segments during the night. Wehr's book, "At Day's Close: Night in Times Past," unearths 500+ references to segmented sleep patterns from diaries, medical books, and various pieces of literature. The subjects describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by a waking period of one to two hours and then a second sleep. People were very active during this waking period, they read, smoked their pipe, visited neighbors, chatted with bed-fellows or had sex. This sleep cycle went to war with it's newest nemesis, the light bulb. That's right, that pesky artificial light made it possible to have some serious luminance upon demand any time of day for basically as long as you like. This initiated major changes in the sleep world. MIND BLOWIN. Now, how do you USE this life shattering (possibly being a teeny bit dramatic here) information?
Between Sleep Stage | I don't know about you, but this changed my outlook on sleep substantially. It was suddenly okay to get up in the middle of the night and be extremely creative and use my time wisely before I felt a wave of drowsiness again. If this is your problem, use that time to get up and get something done instead of laying in bed wishing you were asleep.
The Power Nap | I get sleepy around 3 pm every day; it is like clockwork. So, I allow myself to curl up in a comfy space and take a power nap. A power nap should be 15 min. I sometimes let myself take a longer nap depending on the amount of sleep I got the night before. Do not be ashamed of napping, it is NOT just for kids. Then again, don't lose control and sleep for too long either. However, I had a roommate who worked all night because that is when her body and mind were thriving, and she slept well into the afternoon. Note: she does not have a corporate job or children. Just two obscenely snuggly dogs who like to sleep all the time anyway, so crazy long naps work for them. This is not an exact science, find what works for you and go for it! I am not an expert, but sleep when you can, not just when you have to.
GET OUT AND MOVE | Staring endlessly at a computer screen can be a soul suck and getting outside into some sunshine does the body and soul a lot of good. Think of yourself as a little Walle who cannot function without out the power of the sun. Then toss in some movement. Here are a few suggestions to help you move daily:
Schedule It - Decide to move ahead of time. Put it on your calendar and go for it. Generally, if we think we will just fit it in someplace it will be the first thing to take a back burner.
Phone a Friend - I enjoy some solid alone time, but it is good to have someone else hold you accountable. I started making day playing plans with close friends to catch up and bounce ideas off of trusted buddies while we hiked, biked, rollerbladed etc. etc.. It doesn't matter what you do, just get out. Move your body for at least 30+ min. each day. Get your heart pumping and endorphins flowing and you can be one of the happiest campers out there.
Reminder: Replenish your body with some solid calories and a good hydrating beverage DURING and AFTER your workout.
Meet on the Trail - Instead of having another meeting in the office, over Skype or via telephone, decide to meet on the trail. You don't have to climb a mountain, but I promise your thoughts move as you move. Those happy little endorphins wake up the brain and we all need our brains in tip-top shape when we are formulating ideas and solutions.
Movement is Movement - If you cannot get out, stay home and move. Do laundry, fold clothes, organize your desk, do the dishes, vacuum, sweep or make a meal from scratch. Putting your thoughts in congruence with movement can break your typical boundaries of creation, and push your thought process further. I do various menial things while I listen to TED Talk because I learned long ago, my mind retains information via movement.