Feeling low energy at times, like it’s hard to get through the afternoon, the day, or even the week? Does it take a crane to haul yourself out of the bed in the morning? Are you jittery, your heart jumping at the slightest noise, unable to sleep?
We’ve all had those periods of time where we are overly tired, either physically, emotionally, or otherwise, tempted to turn to a quick cup of coffee or caffeinated beverage to get us up and moving, or take a sleeping pill to help us sleep. But in the long run, we find this drains us more and can cause health-related issues, because the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) is being kept in over-drive.
Instead of the quick fix, focus on healthy responses that bring quality of life, leave you feeling great and rested when you wake up in the morning (can you imagine?), ready to tackle the day.
In this part 1 of a four part series on rebuilding your energy, we’ll begin with the foundation — how to calm your body:
Calm your body
Wait, wasn’t this article about getting energy, not how to calm yourself? A calm state is the foundation to increase your energy and vibration level in the long run. Triggering the parasympathetic nervous system so we feel calm and peaceful is all about rest and digest!
Stress, anxiety, and pain zap a lot of our energy, leaving us feeling drained. If we can alleviate some stress, anxiety and pain through appropriate rest and care of our body, we feel better, have a more positive outlook on life, and energy to keep doing the stuff we love to do. So let’s get your foundation built!
Sleep. I hate to say it, because we all know we need sleep (logically anyway), yet we can stay up too late or just have problems falling or staying asleep. Stress, anxiety, depression and persistent pain are among the major causes of sleep disturbances and energy drainage. Lack of sleep can lead to irritability, confusion, depression, and just feeling plain crummy. Long term sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations, and research shows there may be a relationship between sleep and bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. So the key is to relax, but how?
Try tracking your sleep history with a Fitbit or other sleep tracking device, so you understand how long you stay asleep on average and when you’re restless. Biofeedback is a proven system for changing your behavior. Adults sleep is recommended between 7-9 hours per night. Using the Fitbit, I found I now sleep 7:43 hours on average versus 6:23 hours when I first started, no kidding! If you can’t afford a device, just keep a sleep log next to your bed, and note daily falling asleep and wake up times, along with major periods where you are awake or restless. This will enable you to see progress when you’re making it.
Walk, move, excercise. Fitbit also tracks the amount you walk everyday. I’ve doubled the amount of steps I was taking on a daily basis, and this one thing alone made me calmer, helped me sleep, and left me feeling more energetic. If you are doing many of the things on this page, but not physically moving, you are missing out on a major solution to help yourself. Human bodies were meant to move, just WALK. My resting heart rate (the rate your heart beats right before you wake up in the morning) has decreased from 65 to 59 in just a couple of weeks. Did you know a decreased resting heart rate significantly decreases your chance of heart attack?
Teas, drinks and salt baths. Drink Sleepytime or other chamomile-based tea, or Natural Calm, a magnesium powder that relaxes muscles at bedtime. I drink it mixed with hot water. Take a warm soak in an Epsom salt (magnesium for the outside of your body!) or Himalayan salt bath. Our bodies need minerals to function properly, and much of our modern food intake can be lacking in basic nutrients.
Essential oils. Put a few drops in your nighttime bath, or use a dab of essential oil, such as lavender or Stress Away (my favorite!), on your wrist or pillow when you go to bed. You can also put a few drops on a cotton ball, and keep that in a pill container next to your bed. Just inhale the fragrance as you go to sleep.
Chinese organ clock. In traditional Chinese Medicine, qi moves through the body in 2-hour cycles every 24 hours, representing major organ activity during that time period. If you find you’re having trouble sleeping at a particular time every night, check the organ clock to see what issues you might be working through that are keeping you awake.
Chinese medicine recommends going to bed between 9-11 pm, a very healing period of the night as the effects of sleeping during this time are compounded, you will feel much more rested than if you stay up until 2 in the morning, even if you get 8 hours of sleep.
Aches and pains. Consult with your doctor, but you can also try over the counter pain relief products. Whenever I have a sore back or muscles, I use Po Sum On, a Chinese cinnamon menthol oil recommended by my acupuncturist. If you have pain while sleeping, see if propping up pillows under or between your knees, or the sore spot, helps you. You can also try a natural heating pad made from herbs like lavender. Heated in the microwave, the smells are soothing while you can lay in bed with a warm pad on your muscles. A main goal is to get comfortable in bed so you can rest.
Acupuncture, chiropractic, and massage. I’m willing to try anything once, so I can’t believe it took me so many years to try acupuncture, not until my brother completed his Chinese medicine school! I go every 1-2 weeks now to keep qi flowing, unstagnate blocked energy, deal with any problem areas, and stay calm and relaxed. I’ve learned to alternate these visits with going to the chiropractor and getting massage (both about once a month), to help keep my body calm, relaxed, and out of the doctor’s office!
In our second post on rebuilding your energy, we’ll look at calming your mind. If you have tips you’d like to share, please let me know!