You Have More Energy Than You Think

Stock photos are great.

Most of us wallow well below our energy potential because we “treat” low-energy feelings with low-energy activities. When people feel tired, they’ll often do something like watch TV or take a nap because those activities don’t require much energy. It seems like a great match, but the best response to low-energy feelings (when it isn’t bedtime) is to engage with high-energy activities such as exercise.

The Great Energy Lie

Many people believe that resting generates energy. Thus, if they feel more tired than they’d like more often than they’d like, they will relax or sleep longer to try to increase their energy.

But rest doesn’t generate energy, it recovers energy. That is to say that resting isn’t a way to increase your baseline energy level. Counterintuitively, the way to increase your energy level is to expend more of it.

While confusing at first, it makes sense that spending energy gains energy over the long term when you think about how our bodies work. Our bodies are highly adaptive. If you scratch your hand, the body will send more resources to that spot to heal it. In the same way, if you expend a lot of energy, your body will adapt to be able to expend that amount of energy. But how?

To move this concept from theory to fact in your mind, I’m going to share a bit of fascinating science from my upcoming video course, Weight Loss for Life With Mini Habits.

Exercise triggers mitochondria production in the cells in your muscles AND your brain. Mitochondria play a vital role in energy metabolism and also longevity. (source) More mitochondria means more energy. The fact that mitochondria are created in the brain from exercise is crucial, because at rest, the brain uses up 20 to 25 percent of your energy expenditure.

“It is reasonable to hypothesize that increased brain mitochondria may play an important role in reducing fatigue through their influence on cerebral energy status.” (source)

Pretty fascinating, right? Exercise changes us at the cellular level! More mitochondria means more energy.

Two Other Ways to Tap Into Your Unrealized Energy Potential

You have more energy than you think because of potential mitochondria production, but also for a few other reasons.

Belief

If you see yourself as as a more energetic person than you currently do, you will have more energy as a result. This is the power of the mind. There is some science on how much the mind can affect the body, but the easiest way to validate this is just to try it out. Choose to believe that you do have enough energy to do something, and you will most likely find it!

Engagement

People are known to fall asleep in school and church, but not on roller coasters. That’s because while a lesson or sermon can fail to grab our attention, going 50 MPH or more on a metal track engages most of our senses whether we like it or not!

Story time: Earlier this year, I about blacked out on a roller coaster called Goliath at Six Flags. There’s a “death spiral” part of the ride in which you circle round and round, and it can cause blood to leave your head. My vision started to go black. I hated it and will never ride it again, haha. Maybe I’m getting too old for roller coasters (I’m 32).

If you want to increase your energy levels, find activities that engage you or if you’re say, stuck at work, find ways to make your work more engaging. Here are some tips to make your work more engaging.

  • Get a sit/stand desk. Sitting in one spot for hours is monotonous, and has the added effect of putting your metabolism to sleep. If you can switch between sitting and standing at will, you’ll keep your metabolism from plummeting and the slight change will keep you more engaged. I highly recommend the Jarvis by Fully. That’s what I use and it’s Wirecutter’s top recommendation.
  • Time yourself. There are multiple ways to use time to make your work more interesting. Think of racing around a track. Without time, you’re just going fast in a car. With time, you have a goal and a comparison tool to measure up against. You can use time to challenge yourself (get X done in X minutes). You can also use time to plan and control your energy expenditure. At the thought of working 8 hours straight, my eyes roll into the back of my head, but I can certainly work hard for 30 minutes if I know a short food or entertainment break is waiting for me at the end of it! Then I can regroup for another chunk of work.
  • Choose to engage. This technique is underrated and probably not even attempted. You can choose to engage with your current activity, and it will make a massive difference. The other way to go about this is to “see how the cards play out.” That’s passive and makes it much more difficult to engage with your task. This is why stand-up comedians like to have an opening act to warm up the crowd, because it’s much easier to make a warm and willing audience laugh than a cold, disinterested audience. Choose to be the warm, willing participant in your life’s activities, and you’ll increase your engagement and energy levels instantly.

We all get tired from time to time and that’s alright, but don’t accept tiredness as an objective and unaddressable condition. Your energy levels are very sensitive to your mental and physical decisions. Act accordingly, and enjoy your increased energy levels!

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