Instant Energy

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Frame of mind, genes and time changes

3. Change your frame of mind. Not surprisingly, optimists are more energetic than pessimists. "The happier and more optimistic you feel, the higher your energy and the lower your tension," says Robert Thayer, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at California State University at Long Beach. When energy climbs and tension falls, you're also more productive because you can concentrate, learn and remember more. Tense energy, the revved-up feeling you get when a deadline looms or disaster strikes, Thayer says, can bring the same results, but only temporarily. To become an optimist, focus on solutions rather than problems -- instead of complaining about your boss, for example, target what you can do to improve your career and keep pursuing those goals. Even small changes can help, such as using upbeat language -- don't say you're "tired," say you're "recharging."

4. Don't blame your genes. "People may be born with a certain amount of energy, but your energy level involves a lot more than genes," says Stine. Lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and adding exercise, have more impact than any genetic energy setpoint. For example, children who exercise regularly tend to grow up to be more active and energetic than those who were couch potatoes.

5. Tune in to time changes. Mental energy and alertness are typically highest in mid-morning. And many aspects of physical energy, such as muscle strength and lung and heart efficiency, peak in the late afternoon. "It's important to pay attention to your own rhythms," says Michael Smolensky, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health and co-author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health (Henry Holt, 2000). For instance, if your get-up-and-go attitude doesn't appear until late morning, avoid working breakfasts or early staff meetings. If your energy peters out by 3:00 p.m., use that time for the most routine parts of your job.

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