Bigger workloads than ever. Home lives that are more exhausting than our day jobs. What do you do when you’re ready to fall asleep on your feet and the day’s not even half over yet?
“I need more energy” is such a common cry these days, we’ve built an entire society and an endless myriad of money-making industries, some reputable, some not, on the backs of tired consumers fruitlessly searching for easy answers and shotgun solutions.
It’s as if we gave up sensible approaches long ago, and now we’re all looking for that one magic answer that might somehow flip a switch and send us racing merrily toward the finish line of another incomprehensibly busy day.
In actuality, energy is way more complicated than that, it encompasses so much more about us and around us, and it deserves our respect and greater understanding if we ever remotely hope to grab it, tame it and make it part of our own better wellness.
What is energy, and how do we burn it up and burn it out? Is there a simple definition?
Depends on who you are.
If you’re the Earth, you get yours from the sun. If you’re a whole civilization, you get it from resources like fossil fuels and renewable alternatives.
In physics, energy is a vast power, small or large, that heats, transfers or converts one property or action onto something else.
There’s kinetic energy, the kind that moves. There’s potential energy, which is stored away until it’s time to bring it out and play. Things like gravity and magnetism are potential energy.
There’s radiant energy, like a day at the beach trying not to get a sunburn. There’s thermal energy when things heat up. Throw a steak on the grill and we’ll talk about that one.
There’s even chemical energy released when you fill up your gas tank and step on the pedal to turn fuel into movement so you can ease on down the road.
Energy comes in many forms. For people like you and me, energy comes from food.
Heat Means Eat
We all know what a calorie is, right? No? The French physicist Nicolas Clément first gave us the word back in 1824. It comes from the Latin word calor, which means “heat.”
Scientists measure energy in joules and kilojoules, which provide a unit of measurement to illustrate the work required to move or power for something, including you.
But the word “calorie” is so stuck in the common vernacular, you’re probably more familiar with the concept that our bodies “burn calories for energy.” A simplification that’s not too far off the mark.
As humans, we need enough food intake to make our muscles work. To be able to walk, move, stand, sit, think, plan, digest and dream. To make it through the day while maintaining our metabolism.
The right foods give us good energy. The wrong foods give us a chance to pack on pounds and spend another evening snoring on the couch. the road.
Fuelish Vs. Foolish
So, now that we know what energy is, how do we get more of it? How do we stop making the same mistakes that’ll drag us down in the long run? is there anything that’ll snap things up and keep us from slacking?
Our bodies and minds need sugar to stay perky – in fact, sugar is the only fuel that feeds our brains – but we need to find it in the form of complex carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, lean meats and nuts. Simple carbohydrates like pasta and soda are lesser choices.
- Eat smart with complex carbs
- It goes without saying, get more sleep
- De-stress in ways that make sense to you
- Find time to treat yourself away from the daily grind
And believe it or not, avoid quick-fix promises. Turbo-charged caffeine drinks in a can or a cup lift you up for a little while, but you usually come crashing down exhausted again in the end.
Avoid the adrenal roller coaster. Look for longer-term, not shorter-term solutions.
Different Needs, Different You
Ancient Ayurveda chimed in with its own thoughts on improving energy, but they never looked for a one-size fits-all approach, or made any attempt to try to define energy as the same switch to flip for any two people.
You’re an unique individual with precise individual health goals. What might be a main focus for you, might not be a main focus for someone else on your family and friends list. Maybe you need more energy for your mind.
Maybe someone else you know needs more digestive energy, or help with occasional daytime drowsiness, or more sexual energy and libido.
Try not to think “I need more energy” generically. Try to think, “I need more energy…here.” Then go out and grab it.
For all-around energy for those occasional slow days, Ayurveda looked toward Ashwagandha, an adaptogenic, balancing plant that promoted normal energy levels without being stimulating to the heart.
Ashwagandha supports normal cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as our body’s “stress hormone.” And not to point out the obvious, but on days you’re facing occasional stress, you’re also often lagging in energy by the time you get home.
For digestive energy, Ayurveda’s go-to was Triphala, a combination of three fruits used for thousands of years to support normal function in the lower digestive tract, and to support normal detoxification of the intestines.
Junk left behind in your digestive system – they called it ama – slows you down. Triphala was their herb for addressing it and sending it on its way.
Gymnema and Bitter Melon were herbs Ayurveda thought of when it came to supporting blood sugar levels already within normal range. Remember, to the body and brain, sugar is energy too.
And for a weary mind, Ayurveda chose Bacopa, an herb for mood, memory, focus and attention span. Bacopa promotes alert daytime learning by calming the preoccupied mind and promotes good problem solving ability too. More energy, more clear thinking.
Pick Your Battles
When it comes to energy, we may never find that magic answer in a can, in a bottle or a two-hour nap, but it’s important to remember that energy is a lot of things to a lot of different people, and not a simple switch we turn off and on again.
Your uniqueness makes energy something to tailor-fit for your needs, not anyone else’s. Ask yourself where you lack it the most, and zero in on those areas first.
And, well…the two-hour nap probably wouldn’t hurt you either.