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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

15 Fast and Easy Ways to Boost Mental Energy Levels

15 Fast and Easy Ways to Boost Mental Energy Levels
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The mind is one of the biggest contributors to energy levels. The benefits of having high levels of mental energy include happiness, confidence, focus, and increased willpower, motivation, and productivity, which is why it can be so important to learn how to boost energy when it’s low.

Additionally, the mind has a huge effect on one’s level of physical physical energy. Increased willpower and motivation often lead to healthier eating habits, less procrastination, and more.

The way we think has an astounding effect on the way others perceive us and how we perform. When you feel confident, you look confident, and you will also perform more effectively, increasing the likelihood of success in whatever you are doing as you increase your energy levels in the long-term.

This article covers 15 ways to boost mental energy levels.

1. Be Grateful

Remind yourself of the things you are grateful or thankful for in your life. Gratitude will make you think more positively and give you more mental energy.

If you’re not having fun at work, be grateful that you have work and are earning a salary. If you’re having challenges in any aspect of your life, understand that challenges make you stronger, and be grateful that you don’t have a boring life.

Being grateful reminds you of what’s important. For example, you might be upset about being stuck in traffic. Being grateful for your family will remind you of the traffic’s relative insignificance.

Action item: Write down 5 things you are grateful for in your life to boost energy.

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2. Practice Negative Visualization

Negative visualization originated in a philosophy called Stoicism. Stoics periodically contemplate, but they don’t worry about, “worst-case scenarios.”

Negative visualization is practiced to lessen the impact if these scenarios do come true[1]. In addition, it’s intended to reduce insatiability and force you to appreciate what you do have.

Most of us spend our idle time thinking about the things we want but don’t have. We would be much better off, Stoics believe, to spend this time thinking of all the things we have and reflecting on how much we would miss them if they were not ours.

3. Surround Yourself With Great People

Humans are naturally social, so building relationships makes us happy and gives us energy. Spend time with people who think positively and boost energy simply by being who they are. It will help you respond better to life when you’re around people who offer this kind of perspective.

Action items: Who in your life is overly negative? Should you be spending as much time with them as you do? What kinds of people would you like to spend more time with? Create a game plan for meeting or spending time with these people.

4. Think Positively

Thinking positive thoughts will make you feel more positive. Feeling more positive and optimistic will boost mental energy.

If you’re feeling sluggish or depressed, forcing yourself to think positively is a great way to start reversing negative momentum. Momentum has a profound effect on our energy levels, as energy builds on itself. If your mental energy levels are declining, it gets harder and harder to start improving them.

Focus on the positive in any situation. Take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Instead of thinking about what could go wrong, think about what could go right.

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5. Declutter Your Mind

Most people are very busy and have a lot on their mind, which can get in the way when you want to boost energy. We receive information at a faster pace than ever before. Declutter your mind by delegating, setting reminders, taking notes, and keeping a calendar.

To avoid making mistakes, and to declutter your mind, keep as much as you can outside of your brain. For example, if you set a meeting with someone, put it in your calendar so you no longer have to remember it. Keep a to-do list, as it will be enable you to be more present and conscious of what you’re doing in a given moment.

You can learn how to make an effective to-do list here.

6. Go Outside

Exposing your skin and eyes to sunlight will give you Vitamin D, which can boost energy.

In addition, our minds and bodies are used to being awake during the daytime, and we naturally have more energy during those hours. Getting exposure to sunlight reminds our body that it’s daytime and that we should have more energy[2].

Action item: if you’re feeling tired while at the work, take a short break outside in the sun.

7. Have Fun!

Don’t forget to allocate time to friends and family, hobbies, etc. These activities provide excitement and keep you motivated. It seems counterintuitive, but taking a break from work can actually help you get more work done. Having fun stimulates your brain in a way that boosts energy.

Action item: Set times out of your week for hobbies or activities you find fun.

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8. Stimulate Your Mind

Keep your mind stimulated but not overworked. Mental challenges will give you energy, but too much may leave you fatigued and overwhelmed. Without enough challenges, you may become bored and lethargic, so try learning a new skill to stimulate your mind.

Action item: Make sure to challenge yourself each day with a new experience or goal.

9. Meditate

Many people find meditation to be a great way to boost mental energy.  A basic definition of meditation is simply being conscious of mind and breath, and it has been shown to have a variety of health benefits that can help boost your energy levels.

While meditating, the goal is to not think about the future or past, but to be present. I think of meditation as a time to let my thoughts flow freely and to take notice of my emotions, thoughts, and body.

Action item: Look for a meditation class near you.

10. Try New Things

If you stick too close to the same routine, your brain can go into “auto-pilot.” As discussed above, mental stimulation is essential to boost energy.

Try breaking your routine, and learn something new. Go on a spontaneous adventure to give yourself a fresh perspective. Go into a bookstore and pick out a random book from a genre you don’t normally read.

Action item: Choose an activity that you do consistently and adjust it in some way.

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11. Practice Minimalism

Learn to say “no” and eliminate excess in your life. Throw away what you don’t need. When you have fewer items in your life, there is more space for things you want.

12. Focus on What You Can Control

Stoics believe in focusing on what’s within our control. Wanting or hoping for things that are not in our control will disrupt our tranquility, and worrying about or hoping for something that we don’t have an impact on can cause anxiety.

Action item: List what you’re currently worrying about or hoping for and differentiate what is in your control from what is not.

13. Do What You’re Passionate About

Taking part in activities, professionally and personally, that you’re passionate about leads to more happiness. Spending time on activities that you don’t enjoy can be exhausting.

Action item: What do you love doing? How can you arrange your career or lifestyle so you can do more of it to boost energy?

14. Take Responsibility for Your Emotions

Emotions have a strong effect on your energy levels. If you are feeling sad or embarrassed, you will have less energy. If you are feeling proud or confident, you will have more energy.

By taking responsibility for your emotions, you will become less dependent on external validation or circumstances to influence energy levels.

15. Be Present

Thinking negatively about the past or future can cause anxiety. Accept the situation you’re in and take the best action you can. Wishing you were in a different situation, or wishing you had done something differently in the past will only cause you stress.

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The Bottom Line

Each of the actions above can be easily incorporated into your daily routine to improve your mental health. Identify what is causing you to lack energy, and apart from getting a good night’s sleep, exercising, and eating healthy, try some of the above to boost energy and reduce fatigue without that energy drink or extra cup of coffee.

More on How to Boost Energy

Featured photo credit: Jonathan Sebastiao via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Daily Stoic: The Stoic Art of Negative Visualization
[2] Environmental Health Perspectives: Benefits of Sunlight: A Bright Spot for Human Health

More by this author

Mike Fishbein

Mike is an enterpreneur and digital marketing leader.

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Published on July 15, 2021

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better

Shift Work Disorder: 17 Ways to Manage it Better
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Are you having trouble sleeping? Or do you feel like you can barely stay awake when you need to? Are you left tired and irritable, lacking the joy and motivation that life once brought? If these complaints are tied to your long or rotating work schedule, you may be suffering from shift work disorder—a common ailment among professions with schedules outside the typical 9 am to 6 pm range.[1]

Why does it matter? Let’s be honest—being tired stinks. It feels terrible and leaves you vulnerable to many health risks that well-rested people aren’t as susceptible to. Not only that, but it can also wreak havoc on your relationships and quality of life.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help manage this, and you can start trying them out today! Some of the solutions may not be what you expect. For instance, you might have linked improved sleep to exercise, but did you know that being compassionate with yourself can also have an impact?

Who Are Affected by Shift Work Disorder?

Twenty-five million people are shift workers in the country, so you are far from alone if you are struggling with this. Shift work disorder is a condition frequently affecting anyone who works a job where their schedule is outside standard business hours. Nurses, police officers, firefighters, and factory workers are common examples of professions with schedules that rotate around the clock.

Rotating shifts naturally leads to a change in one’s schedule, including sleep. As your sleep schedule becomes more chaotic, your body is unable to adjust and regulate itself and can result in having difficulty falling or staying asleep. This inevitably leads to less sleep, which is where some big problems can arise.

What Are the Symptoms?

Sleep is one of the most important (and underrated) aspects of our lives. Enough sleep and good quality sleep are critical to our emotional, mental, and physical health.

Insufficient sleep can lead to a significantly increased risk of physical health problems, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Mentally, being tired contributes to having scattered concentration, difficulty processing information, and being more likely to make mistakes or have an accident. Emotionally, the fallout of being chronically exhausted is linked to poor emotional regulation including being irritated more quickly, as well as an increased likelihood of developing anxiety and depression.[2]

Any of this sound familiar? If so, keep reading for some scientifically-based tips to help you manage your sleep better and get your life back.

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17 Ways to Manage Shift Work Disorder Better

Quality sleep, or the lack thereof, impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. The most impactful plan of attack against shift work disorder and to regain quality sleep must also reflect that.

I suggest reading through all of the tips and formulating a plan based on what you think will work for you. Start by trying out one thing and build from there as you are able. Remember to construct a plan that addresses your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Let’s start in the most obvious place first:

Your Job

1. Make Your Schedule the Best It Can Be

Randomly rotating shifts has been found to have the worst impact on our health.[3] If you have to rotate your schedule, request to rotate shifts in a clockwise fashion.

For example: work the day shift, rotate to the nights, then to the early morning shift, then start back on the day shift. Sounds silly? It’s not. Studies show that our bodies more easily adjust to changes in schedule when completed in a clockwise manner.[4] This is because of something called our circadian rhythm—24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock that carry out essential functions. The most commonly known of these is sleep. It has been discovered that our circadian rhythm adjusts forward more easily than it does backward.

2. Speak to Your Manager About Keeping Your Workplace Bright

Special lights have been designed to assist with circadian rhythm. It turns out that absorbing bright light that is most similar to sunlight can positively impact regulating our circadian rhythm.[5]

3. Avoid a Long Commute to and From Work

Having a long drive home after working a rotating shift is statistically not in your best interest. It’s been shown that fatigued/sleepy employees are 70% more likely to have a workplace accident and 33% more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.[6]

To avoid putting yourself at risk by driving when you’re not at your best, catch a nap before leaving work, pull over to sleep, or stay at a friend’s house nearby.

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4. Speak to Your Manager About Your Concerns

Many companies that operate around the clock are willing and able to make accommodations to those working alternative shifts. Whether it’s helping you find a schedule that works best for you or connecting you with other programs designed to support your well-being, being in good communication with your employer is to everyone’s benefit.

Sleep Attitudes and Environment

5. Change Your Perspective and Start Prioritizing Sleep

Here’s the deal: despite some pretty well-known dangerous effects of not getting enough sleep, somewhere along the line, our society began to think of sleep as a luxury. Some even consider it a badge of honor to “power through” without much (or any) sleep. People have been made to feel embarrassed or lazy if they get the recommended amount of sleep each night.

Here’s the bottom line: sleep is not a luxury.

Let me repeat that—sleep is not a luxury, and getting a consistent and healthy amount does not make you a slacker. Sleep is actually when our body does a lot of repair work on itself—blood vessels, muscles, and other organs. Sleep also boosts our immunity.

If we could help people feel as proud about sleeping as we do about them working out regularly or sticking to a healthy diet, people might be a lot healthier.

6. Make Your Sleep Space as Conducive to Rest as Possible

This means tweaking your environment so it’s as enticing as possible for your body to go to sleep. Keep the room dark using blackout blinds, reduce the temperature (our body rests best when slightly cool), limit interruptions (phone calls, visitors, noise), and remove electronic devices.[7]

Set yourself up for success by supporting yourself through your surroundings. If you wanted to lose weight, you wouldn’t frequently surround yourself with cookies, cake, and ice cream, right? Same idea here.

Personal Habits and Choices

7. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule as Closely as Possible—on Workdays and Days Off

This is obviously difficult when your schedule changes on the regular, but the more consistent you can keep your bedtime, the easier time your body has getting to sleep and staying that way.[8]

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8. Allow Yourself Time to Catch Up on Sleep

Having enough days off to rest and recuperate is an important aspect of protecting your health. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive across the country on one tank of gas, right? Filling your own personal gas tank is just as important.

9. Take Naps, but Don’t Overdo It

It’s recommended by the Cleveland Clinic to take a 90-minute nap just before starting your shift and then a 30-minute nap during your “lunch break” at work.[9] Again, this is all about keeping some gas in your tank and not allowing yourself to get to the point where you are running on fumes. Short naps will help you stay refreshed and alert on the job.

10. Limit Caffeine to the Start of Your Shift

Most of us love a good hit of caffeine, especially when we are tired. But overdoing it or having caffeine too late in your shift can negatively impact your ability to get to sleep when you finally have the time to do so. Moderate your intake to help yourself get some quality sleep.

11. Avoid Alcohol Before Bed

Unwinding after work with a drink can be tempting. It can make you drowsy, which many people mistakenly believe will help them get better sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol will actually keep you awake (or wake you up later). This obviously impairs your ability to get the quality of sleep you are looking for.

12. Don’t Smoke

Much like alcohol, people turn to nicotine to “calm their nerves” or help them relax. Also, like alcohol, nicotine has been shown to disrupt sleep.[10] Cut back or cut this habit out as able.

13. Eat Well and Eat Smart

Choose convenient nutritious meals and snacks. Nutritious food is the foundation from which our body creates the needed chemicals for quality sleep. Foods high in saturated fat and sugar have been shown to have the worst impact on sleep.[11]

Also, timing is everything as they say. Eating too much or not enough before your shift can cause you to feel tired.

14. Get Regular Exercise

According to numerous studies, exercise can be as effective in treating sleep disorders as prescription medication.[12] Yes, you read that correctly—regular exercise is the bomb!

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This one can be tricky to convince people to do, especially if they are already tired and short on time. If you don’t have the time to hit the gym, take a brisk walk, dance around your living room to your favorite song, or mow your lawn. Despite feeling tired, getting up off the couch and moving around (moderate to vigorous exercise) is best for reducing the time it takes to get to sleep and improving the quality of sleep.

Mental and Emotional

15. Establish Consistent Practices That Help You Relax Before Bed

This can include yoga, deep breathing, a warm bath, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, meditation, and hypnosis. These are designed to reduce physical tension and quiet your mind from thoughts that are keeping you awake. There are lots of great apps and free videos that can help you with this.

16. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT as it’s known, works by helping you to identify thoughts and behaviors that make sleep worse and then developing new habits consisting of thoughts and behaviors that promote sleep. There are psychologists and life coaches who are specially certified in CBT that can help you with this.

17. Show Yourself Some Compassion

Sounds silly? Well, it’s not. A seven-year study conducted at the University of Mannheim concluded that the daily practice of self-compassion positively impacted people’s quality of sleep.[13]

The concept of showing ourselves compassion is foreign (and uncomfortable) to many of us. Try going easy on yourself for being grumpy, and give yourself some credit for the efforts you are making in tough circumstances. What would you say to your best friend if they were struggling with the same situation? I routinely ask my clients this question as it’s sometimes easier to be compassionate to others than ourselves. This tip might take some practice, but the effort could result in a better night’s sleep.

Final Thoughts

Okay, there you have it—17 different ways you can help yourself manage shift work disorder, feel more rested, more like yourself, and enjoy life again. To get started with your plan, pick out a few tips that you can implement today, but remember to choose a well-rounded approach—addressing the physical, mental and emotional.

Be patient with yourself. It takes time to build new habits. And show yourself some compassion and kindness—you might just be able to sleep better when you do.

Featured photo credit: Yuris Alhumaydy via unsplash.com

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Reference

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