Are you heading into the second quarter of 2017 in high spirits, or are you feeling a little frayed at the edges? Now's the perfect time to assess your energy levels and take a look at the signals your body is giving you. Here are four questions to help you do that.
1. Are you getting enough sleep?
It's no surprise that lack of sleep and/or poor quality sleep leaves you feeling tired and worn out, and it also knocks your ability to focus. So an easy way to improve your energy levels is to ensure that you're getting enough shut-eye. But how much is enough? The answer is that people's sleep needs are different, so you need to determine the hours that work best for you. Here's what the National Sleep Foundation recommends:
Teenagers: 8–10 hours
Adults: 7–9 hours
Older adults: 7–8 hours
Having trouble falling asleep? Here are some tips to get you feeling snoozy: avoid having caffeine in the evening; try to calm your mind before bedtime by having a bath or doing some gentle yoga or breathing exercises; avoid using electronic devices like your phone or tablet before bed; and make sure your bedroom is a quiet and comfortable space for you to relax.
2. How healthy is your diet?
Most of us know the basics of a healthy diet – fruits and vegetables, good-quality proteins, low-GI carbs and so on. But what about those energy-sapping foods that can easily sneak their way into your daily diet? Here are two of the main culprits:
Caffeine: While there's nothing wrong with enjoying your morning coffee, having one too many flat whites in the evening can disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling fatigued. Try to limit your intake and avoid having caffeine about 4–6 hours before bedtime.
Sugar: You might not eat sweets and chocolates, but what about things like muesli, granola bars and energy drinks? They're often packed with sugar, so keep an eye on the nutritional information to see what you're really consuming.
3. Are you working up a sweat?
Regular physical activity helps you to sleep better and boosts your energy levels, so make sure you stay active. It can sometimes feel like there aren't enough hours in the day, but make that morning run, spin session or dance class a non-negotiable part of your routine. Your body will thank you for it.
4. Are you managing stress effectively?
Stress can drain your energy levels and leave you feeling irritable, frustrated and depressed. If you're feeling overwhelmed and depleted, try to identify your stressors and develop strategies to limit and manage them. If you're feeling overworked, perhaps it's time to chat to your manager about workable solutions. Or if you've overcommitted yourself, look at ways to simplify and cut back.
Not all stressors can be eliminated, but there are things you can do to manage your stress levels. These include spending time relaxing with friends, limiting the time you spend with negative people who drain your energy, and practising relaxing activities like meditation and yoga.