Renewable Energy: How to Renew Your Physical and Mental Energy
Energy a little low? Like many people, you may be experiencing a bit of seasonal letdown. Now that the excitement of the holidays has died down, January and February seem to loom ahead with nothing to offer but short, cold and often dreary days. The transition from a hectic but fun schedule to your regular, everyday routine can seem boring and somewhat depressing at first. Not only that, like many others, you may have expended so much energy over the past couple of months that you need rejuvenating – not only in body, but in mind, emotion and spirit as well.
Fortunately, there are ways to do just that. This two-part article shares some rejuvenation and renewal techniques for all aspects of your being. So take the next few weeks to explore, experiment and experience new ways to promote within yourself a more vibrant, energetic and renewed state.
It’s not a coincidence that many people embark on an exercise regime in January. Not only do many of us need to shed a few pounds that we gained by celebrating a bit too heartily, we also recognize that exercise, both literally and figuratively, can get you going. A 2008 study from the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics found that study participants achieved increases of energy of approximately 20 percent and decreases in feelings of fatigue of up to 65 percent, simply by participating in regular, low-intensity exercise.
But calm energy, which combines high mental energy with low physical tension (such as Pilates, TaiChi, walking…), allows the body to avoid fatigue and actually increases your energy level.-Rita Milios
But not all exercise is created equal. According to Robert E Thayer, Ph.D., author of Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood With Food (2001, Oxford University Press, NY), there are actually two different types of energy–what he calls “tense energy” and “calm energy”–and they each have different effects on the body. Thayer says many of us typically utilize tense energy, working or exercising our bodies at a high, intense physical level, like when we work out at the gym. This kind of energy expenditure often makes you feel tired afterwards. But calm energy, which combines high mental energy with low physical tension (such as Pilates, TaiChi, walking and strength-training, if movements are done slowly and deliberately), allows the body to avoid fatigue and actually increases your energy level.
- Proper Sleep
Deep sleep, which happens in cycles about every 90 minutes throughout the night, is crucial for physical renewal, hormonal regulation, and growth. Without deep sleep, we are more likely to get sick, feel depressed, and gain weight. But according to the National Sleep Foundation, only about 28 percent of us get enough sleep each night. We need 3 to 4 deep sleep cycles (about 7 to 8 hours of sleep) to allow our bodies to renew and repair themselves. Sleeping in a cool, dark room enhances the sleep experience, and allows for the most restorative sleep, experts say.
- Deep Breathing
One reason you may be feeling low on energy is that your cells may be starving for oxygen. Too many of us have gotten into the habit of breathing shallowly, which prevents air and oxygen from fully penetrating the lowest portions of our lungs. This kind of breathing can suck your energy and make you feel anxious, says Pam Grout, the Alternative & Complementary Medicine correspondent at the Dr. Oz health website.
To help you breathe better, practice taking full diaphragmatic breaths for several minutes a few times a day. The Harvard Mental Health Letter offers these suggestions:
You’ll notice that shallow breathing often feels tense and constricted, while deep breathing encourages relaxation.-Harvard Mental Health Letter
Start by observing your breath. First take a normal breath. Then take a slow, deep breath. The air coming in through your nose should move downward into your lower belly. Let your abdomen expand fully. Now breathe out through your mouth (or your nose, if that feels more natural). Alternate normal and deep breaths several times. Pay attention to how you feel when you inhale and exhale normally and when you breathe deeply. You’ll notice that shallow breathing often feels tense and constricted, while deep breathing encourages relaxation.
- Meditation: Give Your Left-Brain a Break
Most of us are left-brain heavy. We use our thinking, processing left-brain more than our creative, intuitive right-brain. You can refresh and renew your whole mind by giving your left-brain some down time. Meditation slows brain waves and “re-sets” your brain, increasing mental clarity and improving your problem-solving ability while relaxing you.
An easy way to meditate is to simply notice your breath and put your full attention there, noticing how it feels for your lungs to expand and your diaphragm to recoil. You can also repeat a word or mantra, such as “peace” or “relax” with each breath. Even a short 5 to 10 minute meditation, practiced regularly, can provide significant benefits.
- Balance Your Brain
You can achieve even more left-right brain balance and mental renewal by doing a brain balancing exercise:
Close your eyes and visualize your brain inside your head. Picture the left and right sides, with the corpus callosum, or centerline, between. Imagine that each side is filled with an energy-filled fluid, and that on the left side the fluid level is higher than on the right. Imagine “poking holes” in the corpus callosum that separates the two sides of your brain, so that the energy-fluid can flow from the left side to the right side, until the two sides are leveled out. Affirm to yourself, “My brain’s energy is now balanced and I am centered.”
- Power Nap
Do you regularly nap for 10 to 30 minutes between the hours of 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. most days? If so, you are a “power napper” and according to Sara Mednick, researcher and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life (Workman Publishing; 2006), you are boosting your alertness and possibly improving your memory as well. Apparently, the publishers of Mednick’s book were so impressed with her research regarding the benefits of power napping that they created “napping rooms” so that their employees could refresh themselves during the work day. More companies are also approving power napping for their employees, and seeing improvements in their productivity as a result.
Check back for Renewable Energy Part 2 to learn more about emotional and spiritual renewals.
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