January 12, 2024
One of my New Year’s goals was to get back to writing more, so after a couple years hiatus since my last blog….here we go!
On New Year’s Day an article about “how to be less tired” posted in the New York Times Well section caught my eye. Fatigue and pain are the 2 most common complaints that walk into my clinic, and chasing treatments for fatigue is easier said than done. Some of the things that drain us in life are outside our control. But I appreciated the proactive perspective of the article, despite what may be happening in our lives. I have to give credit to the NY Times for these recommendations and felt inspired to share the following suggestions – they are realistic, attainable and simple. If you are like me, a little extra energy and a little less fatigue in 2024 sounds amazing. Let’s do this!
At least once a day, find a quiet place in your home or workplace and take a few minutes for yourself. Put your phone on mute and out of sight. Close your eyes and just let yourself rest for 5 – 10 minutes. This short break in mental and physical stress can be extremely rejuvenating. And it trains your brain how to calm down and be still – away from the constant stimulation of today’s daily routine.
When you’re tired and out of sorts, the last thing you feel like doing is exercise. But the less active we are throughout the day, the more tired we feel. This challenge might feel a little silly, but it’s lighthearted and gets your blood pumping in a fun way. The short bursts of movement help reduce fatigue, stress and improve your mood.
Over the course of 3 minutes, you are going to do 6 intervals of 30 second activities (set a timer on your phone for 3 minutes, and change activity ever 30 seconds) Find a place where you can move comfortably and get ready to act like an athlete. You will act out each of the following sports for 30 seconds.
Boxing: Throw some jabs, pretend you’re in a boxing ring and alternate between fast and slow punches. (Plus, it’s a great way to blow off some steam!)
Ballet: Raise your arms overhead and form a circle, stretch your legs and go up on your tip toes. Do some dance moves around the room, maybe even your version of a pirouette or a leap. 😊
Tennis: Try a backhand, forehand, serve or some volleys. Who cares what your form looks like! You are crushing it.
Basketball: Dribble the ball down the court, take a jump shot in the air and block your boss’s shot (your imaginary opponent lol)
Running: jog in place, pumping and swinging your arms and pretend you are running thru the finish line – arms in the air!
Yoga: Assume any pose or posture that feels good and helps you feel grounded, such as standing in “mountain” pose with your hands on your heart, or child’s pose and breathe deeply.
These 3 minutes of exercises will go by fast, lighten your mood, accelerate your heart rate and give you some good energy for the rest of the day! A study conducted in Great Britian in 2022 followed over 25,000 adults. The researchers found that those who did a total of 3 minutes of vigorous movement each day had lower overall mortality and risk for cardiovascular disease than those who didn’t.
For this one, I’m adding a bit of my own advice. Whatever and whenever you choose to eat to start your day (or to “break your fast”) please don’t eat a bunch of carbs. Cereal, oatmeal, toast, muffins, bagels, donuts, etc. will cause a blood sugar spike and resounding crash that your body will struggle to recover from for the rest of the day…..creating a mind/body that struggles with energy, cravings, and mood swings. Instead, start your day off with a blend of protein and good fats. You will feel more satisfied and less likely to need that Coke by 10 AM.
And secondly – just pay attention to how you feel after you eat. If you are sluggish and having a headache about an hour after you last ate – maybe it was too much, too high in carbs, or too high in inflammatory fats/oils. Eat more REAL food. Less junk. It is amazing how much better you will feel throughout the day.
You know what I mean by this one. Those friends/family that you have a history with, so you feel obligated to spend time with them and afterwards you are completely zapped of energy. They sucked your positive energy away from you as they droned on and on about all the negative things in their life and never once ask you about what’s going on in yours. Learning to identify which relationships feel draining and which ones lift you up is key to maintaining healthy energy throughout the day. Strong friendships can lower our blood pressure, protect against depression and help us live longer, while those that we are ambivalent about can raise our blood pressure and cause anxiety. In order to identify those potential energy vampires in your life you need to conduct a friendship audit:
If necessary, you can explore ways to make draining friendships healthier such as looking for the positives and shifting the conversation to a pleasant memory, and most importantly – set boundaries. Tell them you can only talk for 5 minutes, or don’t feel obligated to pick up the phone every time they call.
Instead of scrolling through social media after work, try out a new hobby. I’ve recently explored how to make sourdough bread. I’m failing miserably, but am learning lots and really having some fun with it. Try a new project or something that engages your mind in a healthy way. People that continue to learn and try new things maintain much healthier brains as they age. It’s also a way to check out from the stress of life and entering your own “flow state” – a state of mind where you are engrossed in your task and not worrying about the myriad of stresses that occupy our brains throughout the rest of the day. Even if you don’t know what this new hobby might be….try something! You might be surprised by what you learn and end up enjoying.
Hopefully by incorporating these 5 tips into your daily routine you will start to notice more sustained energy, less caffeine dependence, better mood, improved mobility and more! January is a great time to implement new routines, and these are easy! Decide today if you are ready for the healthier and more energetic version of yourself!