One of the exciting benefits of taking a gap year has been allowing my daily routine to evolve organically around my natural flow and ebb of energy. Since my day is no longer dictated by my 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. teaching position, the first thing I noticed was the regular dips and peaks in my energy throughout the day. And since I no longer needed to “just soldier on” by consuming large amounts of caffeine, I could work with my natural rhythm. (Check out my article on using your natural energy rhythms to structure your day here.)
But first I made some adjustments which regulated my energy, and I am happy to say I now have a much steadier level of energy from morning to evening.
Here’s what I did:
Caffeine: I reduced my intake to one morning cup a day. Whereas I used to have a second cup with breakfast and a cup or two in the afternoon, I now savour my single cup of black coffee each morning, truly enjoying its taste and the heat of it, rather than downing it like a drug.
I have a matcha almond milk latte in the afternoon which I likewise cherish as a sensory experience, mindfully paying attention to each sip.
Light meals packed with vegetables. A variety of whole grains, but fewer as the day goes on. Healthy fats and proteins include avocados, nuts and seeds, olives and olive oil, coconut oil. No refined sugar.
Sleep: I go to bed earlier.
One of my greatest motherhood challenges has been the loss of uninterrupted me-time. And so for years, the evening hours between my boys’ bedtime and my own have been a vital lifeline. But as they got older and their bedtime moved later, I began to stay up later and later. The irony here is that I became wholly unproductive during my evening hours, and ended up being deprived of both sleep and time to produce meaningful work.
Now I get up at six every morning, about an hour before the rest of the household, and enjoy an hour of quiet time first thing. I drink my coffee, meditate and set my intentions for the day, and sometimes even have time to write or read. Since I need about eight hours of sleep, I count backwards and make sure I’m in bed with the lights out by ten.
About once every week or two I really need a nap in the early afternoon and I no longer feel guilty taking it.
Exercise: I move my body every day.
This is an area in which I still have major goals, but for now I am making sure to be moving my body at least five times a week. After dropping my kids off at school, before tackling any housework or sitting down in front of my computer, I take the dog for a good 30 minute walk. I also go horseback riding once week. I hope to soon incorporate some weight training three times a week.
Kundalini breathing exercises:
I am a total beginner in this area, but taking a minute to do the “Breath of Fire” (Google it!) seems to be making a difference.
Focus and productivity: I’ve become intentional.
This goes beyond scheduling. I’ve become somewhat ruthless about what I’m letting go of (keeping the sink free of dirty dishes) and saying no to (more than a handful of paying clients), and dedicating time each day and week to my top priorities. Since being unfocused, scattered, prone to distractions and any kind of multitasking sap my energy, setting myself up for a feeling of accomplishment and productivity fuel me.
Email and social media are distractions and therefore drain my energy, so I allocate one or two times a day for this and try to stay away the rest of the day. The same goes for housework, so I’ll do one huge sweep each day and pick up any toys or socks that have been left on the dining room table or on the kitchen floor; one load of dishes a day, usually right after I’ve cooked the evening’s meal; one load of laundry a day. It’s often hard to resist the urge to “just see what that ping! was,” or to pick up the stuffed animal from under the coffee table, but practice has made it easier.
Any one of the above is bound to have a positive impact on your balance of energy. I did not start these all at once; rather, I played with one until it became part of my routine, before I added another. It evolved organically, which is why I believe it’s been sustainable. So go ahead, choose one and try it!
Your turn: Do you struggle with energy lapses throughout the day? How do you deal with it? Do any of the things I’ve tried resonate with you? Head over to my blog and let me know in the comments!
And if you found this article helpful, please share it with a friend. I’d be incredibly grateful.
Originally published at cecilepopp.com