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15 Ways to Boost Mental Energy Levels

15 Ways to Boost Mental Energy Levels

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.

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 will also perform more effectively, increasingly the likelihood of success in whatever you are doing.

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.

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2. Practice Negative Visualization

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

Negative visualization is practiced to lessen the impact if these scenarios do come true. 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 people. Building relationships makes us happy and gives us energy. Spend time with people who think positively, and have a lot of energy, and talk in a positive tone. It will make think more positively and give you energy.

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 slightly depressed, forcing yourself to think positively is a great way to start reversing negative momentum. Momentum has a profound effect on our energy levels. Energy builds on itself. If your mental energy levels are declining, gets harder and harder to start improving them. If your mental energy levels are improving, it gets easier and easier to keep building it.

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

5. Declutter Your Mind

Most people are very busy and have a ton of different things on their mind. We receive information such as emails 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. It will be enable you to be more present and conscious of what you’re doing in a given moment. Delegate what someone else can do for you.

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 the daytime. Getting exposure to sunlight reminds our body that it’s daytime and that we should have more energy.

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 counter intuitive, however taking a break from work can actually help you get more work done. Having fun stimulates your brain in a way that improves energy levels.

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

8. Stimulate your Mind

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

Action item: Make sure your experience some challenge throughout your daily life.

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. While meditating, the goal is to not think about future or past. It’s 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.

10. Try New Things

If you stick too close to the same routine, your brain can go into “auto-pilot.” You become un-stimulated and don’t have to think as much. As discussed above, mental stimulation is essential for energy.

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

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

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’s in your Control

Stoics believe in focusing on what’s in our control, and not what’s our of our control. Wanting or hoping for things that are not in our control will disrupt our tranquility. 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 Passion 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?

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. When you are responsible for your own emotions, your energy levels will always be high.

15. Be Present

Thinking negatively about the past can cause anxiety. Thinking about the future can give you anxiety. Be in the present moment. 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 anxiety. The past is out of our control.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

“Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

Creativity also emphasizes values.

“The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

1. Cultivate Focus

In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

How to cultivate focus?

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Take a 20 Minute Walk

Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

2. Build a Structure

When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

How to build a structure?

Create a Morning Routine

Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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3. Find Motivation

There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

How to find motivation?

Connect to Your “Why”

Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

How to become an expert?

Make a Mastery Training Plan

Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

3. Review your progress

Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

5. Create a Conducive Environment

A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

“a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

How to create a conducive environment?

Add or Subtract Stimuli

Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

The Bottom Line

Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

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Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

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