No energy to do all those things that really should be fun? Here’s what might be missing.

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You have so many ideas about things you would like to do – but when the daily duties are done, you’re too tired to even think about getting creative by picking up that instrument, working on your website, doing a bit of crafting, or whatever it is you’re planning and dreaming about.

For anyone having to handle the challenges of everyday life – caring for a family, earning a living, commuting…. it can feel impossible to fit in those OTHER things we also want to do. And for multi-passionate scanners it’s even more difficult – since we want to do SO MUCH! It’s easy to feel frustrated & disappointed. But does it really have to be this way?

This was me – until last year!

For at least 15 years, I more often than not had a feeling of not having enough energy to do what I wanted to. In between I’d have rushes of inspiration & energy, but soon enough I would be back in that all-too-familiar low-energy mode. One year ago, I hit that spot again. My head was spinning with ideas, & I had quite a few commitments waiting for me, but my body and brain just wouldn’t co-operate to help me get anything done. I was feeling exhausted, stressed out & having trouble focusing on my work.

On top of that, I was feeling extremely disappointed: It was just a few months since I had started to have daycare for both my young children after 3 years as a full-time stay-at-home mum. Somehow I had during these years also managed to do a coach training, create a website and work with a few clients. But most of the time I could do nothing but dream and plan what I wanted to do next concerning growing my coaching practice.

And now, when I finally had the time, even though I had started out with great enthusiasm and energy, I was simply too tired to follow through. When the new year started, I found myself paralyzed by stress, with my old friend Burn-out knocking at the door.

Enter: self care

I’ve had burn-outs before. Several times. Each time I was thrown (or, rather, gradually slid) into a deep hole of hopelessness, and each time it had taken me a long time to recover. I didn’t want that to happen again. I realized it was time to get serious and find out what I was doing wrong. Why would I end up empty of energy almost as soon as I started to get exited about something? Was it true, as some people claimed, that if you once had a burn-out you would never quite recover? Was I doomed to live with this lack of energy for the rest of my life?

My search for answers would lead me on a yearlong journey, reading around 20 books and learning about – and trying – a multitude of different diets, exercise programs and other lifestyle changes. What I was about to discover would turn out to be equal parts embarrassing and revealing.

The thing was, I had a self image of being pretty health conscious. And in periods when I didn’t have too much else going on, I could also do a pretty good job cooking healthy meals, practicing yoga, meeting friends and other nurturing things. In theory I knew perfectly well those things where important.

But the moment inspiration (or lack of time) struck, I would all of a sudden start to assume I was super human, and that those supposedly important things just didn´t apply to me! What had happened this time – and all the times before when I got in trouble – was that I was massively cheating on self care.

Somehow, the very word self-care, was repulsive to me.  It made me think about self- absorbed Hollywood wives, about spas and beauty salons, all of which felt very distant and uninteresting to me.

 

brain bookOne of the most important books I read during this year was Why Isn’t My Brain Working? by functional medicine specialist Datis Kharrazian. It opened up my eyes to the amazing connections between nutrition, lifestyle (stress and more) and brain health – and how overly important brain health is for our entire beings, and our ability to function well. And then I got a very important insight:

Self-care is caring for myself so I can be at my best: Self-care is making sure I have the best health I can, because without my health, I can only do very little of all the things I want. I cannot take good care of my children. I cannot help the people I want to help. I cannot bring the ideas into the world that I want to.

By the end of the summer, I started to be pretty clear around what worked for me. Not saying that I had found „the perfect lifestyle“ (or that I always managed to follow through on my new habits) but I was definitely having way more energy, and ability to focus, and even though stress still often got a grip on me, I was getting better and better at handling it. And, last but not least, I was feeling much happier 🙂

But why am I telling you all this?

Concerning my health and mood my „year of health“ had been very successful, but concerning my work I was getting increasingly confused. How could I tell people they simply needed to do what they love in order to be happy, when I for myself had discovered that the food I put – or not put – into my body (combined with a number of other lifestyle choices) might be equally important?

For a while I was almost about to leave my life coaching path in favor of going into functional medicine. Then I dared to ask a client I was working with if he’d be interested in trying out some of the things I had found so powerful for myself. The results where amazing! Improving his lifestyle turned out to be the key we had been missing, and during the weeks and months that followed his energy and mood steadily improved, and so did his capacity to work towards his (other) goals.

In the end I decided to try to find a way to integrate what I had learned with what I already knew. As a result, I have re-designed the Jam Kitchen so I can share with you what I have learned on my self care journey – because it has been a true life changer for me, and I want that for you as well!

So what CAN you do to get more energy?!

What I have learned is – there’s SO MUCH! But to start with, I would urge you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Are you getting enough sleep? This might seem obvious, but all too many of us keep cheating on this one, getting to bed late , then wondering why we don’t feel we’re having enough energy the next day. Aim at getting your recommended 8 hours/night for a week and see if that changes anything! If not, try rising it to 9h, since some of us simply need more sleep than others.
  2. Are you riding the blood sugar roller coaster? Most of us assume blood sugar is something only diabetics have to worry about. The truth is, making sure you’re eating a nutrition dense low carb or low GI diet (low carb/sugar, high in vegetables, protein and good fats) can be one of the most powerful ways to improve your mood and energy during the day (AND your sleep quality!)
  3. Are you getting enough exercise? I’m aware the word „exercise“ will make many people cringe, but please stay with me: Exercise doesn’t have to mean silly sportswear, going to a gym or clocking yourself. The only thing I ask is that you 2-3 times every week get your pulse considerably up (to about 75 % of what feels like the most you can take without risking a heart attack) for as little as 20 minutes. Whether you jump rope, run to catch the bus, walk up a hill to watch the view or dance like crazy to your favorite music is your choice. But these 2-3 times a week will improve your mood and energy as much as a normal antidepressant treatment!

Last but not least, in order to find more things you can do to improve your mood and energy so you can do all the things you love – please sign up for my newsletter, since I have a whole bunch of cool discoveries I want to share in order to help and inspire you 🙂

Over to you

What do you find crucial to stay energized and focused through the day? Please share in the comments!

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  1. Hi Ann-Sofi,

    I enjoyed your blog but was thinking about what Corinna said about putting a lot in it. It was very full and probably could have been several blogs with that much information. I really loved the green sub headings. They were bold and stood out and broke things up. There is one place where your ” ” quote marks have gone a bit mad and back to front.

    But brilliant to have got it done. I wish I’d done this years ago.

    • Hi Janet, thank’s for your thoughts 🙂 Yes, I totally agree it got a lot of information at once, but after arguing a bit back and forth with my inner perfectionist I decided o leave it as is & aim to write shorter & more focused in the future 🙂

  2. “By the end of the summer I became clear about what worked for me…” Really like how this gives us permission to take the time we need to get clear and not push ourselves to try to have clarity come over night!

  3. So useful tips, thank you Ann-Sofi. Stress is like a stubborn virus but the difference is that with awareness, we can stop the stressful lifestyle and choose a healthier one. In my experience there are emotional things underlying the “need” for stress and any type of forcing oneself through life. Today I am utterly sensitive to whenever I am out of balance and I listen to my body signals more carefully. Self-care is crucial for a meaningful life I think. Reminding us is such a blessing so again, thanks <3

    • So true, Crisula 🙂 Thankyou for sharing your thoughts and glad to hear you are respecting the signals from your body 🙂

  4. Love the name and idea of the Jam Kitchen – fantastic image! I kept reading this thinking “That’s me!” so this really hit a nerve. I’ve recently taken up what you suggest with the exercise and although it feels ugg, it is really worth it for increased energy. I need to try your sugar idea next. Really, really great article – thank-you

    • Thankyou Dawn, glad you like my kitchen 🙂 And that you already found out the benefits with exercise, that can be a huge step, I know. But maybe you can you find a way to make it more fun? I believe that in order to stick to exercise habits we need to somehow make them enjoyable. For example I never go jogging without my wonderful intervall playlist, it just makes it SO much easier 🙂 & I can totally recommend to try the low carb thing – I never new how sensitive I was to blood sugar swings (both up and down) until I saw how much my mood and energy level stabilized when getting rid of it!

  5. Thankyou for sharing
    Congratulations to finding your way back on this track so you can share. We need to educate ourselves and practice the art of joyful living.

    I try to accept and adapt to my uneven energy level, with awareness:
    Resting is good-‘falling off’ not good at all.
    Even though I have tools and have a fair idea of what works for me, many times I lose it and fall in to polluting myself by eating, thinking and doing whats not good for me at all.
    I need shortcuts to loosen my vagus nerve and get centered again.
    Lately its been yoga that breakes the spell and keeps me relatively online.
    This winter I let go of vain ideas like “I should, I can just do it myself! I know the pranayama, the asanas, the mudras…. bla bla”
    WHATEVER! Face it: I might “know” but the other forces in me make me act like I’ve never even heard of it.
    I must make it easy for myself and use the wonderful opportunity take classes.
    GOD BLESS THE YOGA STUDIOS!

    Booking a class isn’t so hard- then I feel I have to go. There it’s easy to dock on to the flow of this vehicle of yoga, used to relax minds for thousands of years. From there I can start moving again.

    Thankyou
    Light

  6. Thank you, dear Maria, for sharing your thoughts 🙂 “the art of joyful living” – I love that! And am so glad you have found what works for you. Yoga is such a great thing, if used. I will considder signing up for a class aswell, since, as for you, I just don’t do it often enough on my own. Keep on practicing, 🙂 XX

    • when we need the practice the most it can be almost impossible to get yourself to it.
      Im a complete miser, so If i have paid, I’m far too greedy not to go training.
      Hehe. Ugly useful trait

    • Hi Palm, thank’s for sharing your experience. I know it can be really hard to find a way to combine work and family life with other interests. From my experience, making sure you have the best energy level possible (for example by applying what I suggest in his article) is one part of the equation. The other is to find ways that work to actually spend time doing what you long for even if it’s just for a few minutes each time. But with the right set-up you can paint a painting or improve your musical skills or write a book or whatever you want to do by keep adding 5-10 minutes each day. I intend to write more about this in future articles, so stay tuned 🙂

  7. Hi Ann-Sofi,

    so nice to hear from you again, the photo is too lovely!

    Your blog is great, what a good idea.

    I found that outdoor exercise is my no. 1 energy booster, emphasis on ‘outdoor’:

    For me running works best. Just being out there in the fresh air, no matter if wind or rain, and no matter how fast or slow you run, it makes you feel so alive! Giving me lots of energy.

    I believe we should all spend way more time outdoors, get out of our stuffy houses and offices, oh, and let’s air our rooms more often, too.. 🙂

    Love to read more of your blog!!
    Ulla

    • Hi Ulla, great to see you here and glad you like the blog 🙂
      & totally agree, fresh air is really magic! I’m always amazed how good it feels to get out, even if the weather is quite bad, getting out for a walk or to run will just make the whole day better 🙂

      Thankyou for sharing your thoughts!