Everything that has life has rhythm, including us.
The human system is designed to oscillate — from heartbeats to brain waves to blood sugar fluctuations. Yet most of us live our lives like a flat line. We put the pedal to the metal from the moment our alarm jolts us out of bed, just as we feel like we’ve finally drifted to sleep. The problem is not just that we’re constantly on the go, but that our stress response also causes us to have one foot simultaneously on the brake, grinding our gears and causing internal wear and tear on our brains and our bodies.
The constant perception that we don’t have enough — time, money, energy — prompts the brain to trigger a neurochemical cascade that puts our entire system on high alert 24/7. And the results of this are deadly.
Without a pulse or consistent beats the help us reset and recharge throughout the day, we force our system to function on a steady supply of stress hormones to help us bridge the gap between our limited capacity and ever-increasing demands. But there is a better way. A series of simple shifts that can gently nudge our nervous system back towards coherent and aligned patterns of focus and attention to bring our best energy to the time we have.
Take a few minutes right now for a quick energy audit. Depending on the time you have to commit, consider investing 5 minutes to reflect on your energy patterns and determine a quick shift that will enable you to reset your rhythm in a way that will minimize chronic stress and optimize your productivity and performance.
Step one: assess.
On a scale of 1–10, how energized are you feeling right now in the following 5 categories: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and socially? Add up your numbers, multiply it by 2 and you’ve got your energy percentage for the current moment. How energized are you right now? How helpful would it be to recharge?
Step two: reflect.
Do a quick energy audit, looking at the timeline of your day — are you oscillating or flat-lining? There are 5 critical times during the day where you can prime your brain to optimize your energy production and navigation.
1: First thing in the morning — are you investing at least 15–20 minutes to think about who you want to be before you think about what you need to do? Are you optimizing the energy of your brain by getting physical activity, experiencing positive emotions, and focusing on what matters most to you?
2: Before you go to bed at night — are you investing at least 15–20 minutes to reflect on the positive things that happened during the day? Are you unwinding from technology and stimulation, and shifting your senses to a calm state for optimal sleep by doing rhythmic breathing, guided relaxation, taking a hot bath or reading a good book (preferably on paper)?
3: Are you eating mindfully throughout the day to recharge your physical energy? Are you taking breaks to refuel with healthy food and some time away from your desk, quieting your mind and appreciating the moment to recharge?
4: Are you moving your body at least every 90 minutes? Are you breaking away from work to stand, stretch, go for a walk and get some fresh air? Are you taking meetings and calls while in motion from time to time?
5: And finally, are you taking breaks throughout the day to shift focus away from your to-do list and onto things that inspire you, delight you, and make you laugh? Are you investing time in reflection and creativity, and prioritizing connections with other people who matter to you?
Step 3: recharge.
Right now, what could you do that would optimize your energy in the moment? How much time could you invest — 3 minutes, 5 minutes or more? Consider the most impactful recharge strategies and choose one that feels right for you right now. Practice, and commit to practice again. Plug recharge breaks into your schedule at least 3 times during the day, plus your morning and evening routine, to really boost your energy and create your optimal performance pulse.
My top 3 recharge strategies
1: Move — get up, stretch, do some chair sits or squats, climb a flight of stairs or two, do a lap around the building, walk through the parking lot, grab a friend or colleague for a walk and talk, put on some music and dance.
2: Meditate — focus on breathing in and out slowly to the count of about 5 on the inhale and 6 on the exhale, listen to a guided meditation, listen to music that relaxes or inspires you, close your eyes and think about something or someone you feel grateful for, repeat a mantra or focus phrase for a few minutes.
3: Mirth — think about something funny that happened to you today, find a funny comic or image and share it with a friend, watch a short funny video (babies laughing or silly cat videos might be a good starting point), ask a friend to find something funny and share it with you, visit Facebook for some other funny ideas. (You can join me at https://www.facebook.com/webeyondfunny for some healthy humor hits, and please share some of your own!)
If you’d like more techniques to recharge regularly, check out some of my free training tools at www.rechargetoolkit.com. You can also sign up for my brand new Stress Mastery Course (launching September 13th) and receive a special pre-launch bonus! Click here for the limited time discount.