Working moms are pushing themselves harder than ever to be the best in all realms of their life, aiming for perfection in all that they do, taking on the brunt of the familial responsibilities, while not accepting help OR seeking reprieve. They are like a hamster caught in a wheel, going round and round and getting nowhere fast. This pace is absolutely exhausting and unrealistic to maintain for the long-term. There is likely a breakdown lurking right around the corner.
We have been led to believe that time is our most precious resource. However, it may surprise you to hear that it is really energy, not time. Most “experts” teach us how to “manage” our time. However, this is exactly where the problem lies...we don’t need to get MORE done and learn how to cram more into the day! Time is a finite resource and one that you can never get back. You cannot control it nor can you manage it. You can only manage yourself and the energy that you create and sustain.
Energy is the fundamental currency of getting the most out of your life. If you don’t have the right quantity, the right quality, or the right focus or force of energy, you are compromising every activity you undertake. Every one of your thoughts, your emotions, and your behaviors has an energy consequence for better or for worse. Success, performance, health, and happiness are all grounded in the skillful management of energy. In this article, I will share five ideas to empower you to make different choices regarding your physical energy expenditure and renewal. As a result you will be better able to be GOOD for yourself, your family, and to the career in which you are devoted.
Physical energy is the foundation from which all other dimensions of your energy arise. Any inadequacies with your physical energy diminish your basic emotional, mental, and spiritual energy levels as well. Following are 5 strategies that you can implement to build and sustain your energy:
1. Sleep…it does a body good.
Consistency is the golden rule! Most sleep experts recommend that you get anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. To enhance your sleep, they also recommend that you set a consistent time that you both go to bed each night and wake-up (yes, this includes the weekends). You will also want to ensure that your bedroom environment is peaceful by creating a sleep sanctuary (e.g., remove the television, clear the clutter, sleep on a quality mattress, invest in luxury bedding, use calming fragrances, and set your room temperature between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit).
2. Take brief, regular breaks at specific intervals throughout the day.
Every 90 to 120 minutes, take a 10-15 minute break to help you disengage from work. During this time, you might choose to listen to a song that brings you energy, give a call to a friend/family member, or take a stroll near your office. The value of these breaks is grounded in our physiology. Without getting too technical or scientific, our bodies go through a 90-120 minute period of high energy. However, at the end of the high energy cycle, the body begins to crave a period of rest and recovery. Some of the common symptoms include: yawning, hunger pains, difficulty concentrating, and feeling restless. Rather than ignoring the symptoms (hint, hint) and burn your energy as the day progresses, take regular breaks.
4. Eliminate the clutter.
Does your environment support your success as a working mom at home and at work? Clutter drains your energy. With that in mind, you may need to schedule a clean- up day to get rid of anything you do not need or use that is taking up space and energy. Unless you need it every day or use it at least once a week, put it in storage or donate it. You will feel the weight of the world lifted off of your shoulders. It is amazing!
5. Move your body.
Getting your body moving is one of the quickest ways to increase energy. Lethargy breeds lethargy. When your lifestyle is sedentary, your energy levels diminish, and your life becomes even more sedentary. It's a vicious cycle. Break the cycle by taking baby steps in the right direction. It takes just 10 minutes to start the mind clearing process.
The tough part of this little trick is getting started and initiating action. Once you get the ball rolling, it develops a life of its own and becomes something you do not have to think about doing. It actually becomes a habit! Ultimately, you want to get to the point that you are engaged in cardiovascular activity at least 3x per week and strength training at least 2x per week.
5. Graze throughout the day and take your vitamins.
There is a good reason why a fiesta is followed by a siesta! After you eat a heavy meal; your body has to put a lot of energy toward digestion. This will result in lethargy. If you want to keep a constant level of energy surging through your body all day long, then eliminate heavy meals. Instead, try grazing throughout the day. Eat several small meals and light snacks. It is recommended to eat every 4-6 hours. Thus, I would definitely encourage you to do so.
As it relates to nutrients other than the food we consume, B vitamins are a must for moms. In addition to helping the body convert food into energy, they also help combat fatigue and stress. People with high amounts of stress (physical and emotional) often need that extra B vitamin supplement to help maintain energy. And, personally, I cannot think of many more stressful jobs than working motherhood. I recommend finding a good multivitamin that contains plenty of Vitamin B and take it daily.
Dr. Marla Enhelder, Working Mom Coach & Mentor, is founder of Take Charge Mama, a company devoted to empowering working moms to effectively manage their time and energy, create balance between work and family, and ultimately live a life that they love! To get your FREE Audio CD and receive Marla's weekly newsletter packed with tips that you can action immediately, visit http://www.takechargemama.com