Being a parent of young children is highly demanding mentally, emotionally and physically. Lack of uninterrupted sleep and being on the go all the time can take its toll, however there some things we can put in place to look after our energy levels.
In today’s post I would like to explore the subject of energy from a holistic point of view.
Our energy levels are not only affected by our lifestyle, there are also more subtle, less obvious energy sappers to consider. But first let’s start with some practical ideas. Making small adjustments in lifestyle and mindset are likely help make a difference to your energy levels fairly quickly.
1. Lifestyle & stress Energy management is similar to weight management in that it’s about input and output.
If you’re spending more energy than you recharge, you’re in trouble. So taking an honest look at your lifestyle is important. These days, our schedules tend to be full with home, the children, work and anything else we need to fit in. Scheduling ‘down time’ for yourself - in the same way you do for your children - is key because you need quiet time as much as they do.
2. Cat naps Research shows that a 10 minute or 30 minute nap does wonders for boosting energy levels.
It gives enough time for the body to reboot but is not long enough to go into a deep sleep which makes us groggy. If you’re home with the children or you’re working from home you can schedule it in your diary as ‘recharge time’. The trick here is to do it every day so that instead of playing catch up, you’re keeping your energy at a comfortable level. If you’re at work all day, it may be more difficult to slot it in! But this is something you could still do at weekends and even in the evenings just after putting the kids to bed so you have more energy to enjoy your evening.
3. Evening shower Water is a wonderful thing.
Having a shower in the evening helps to recharge the batteries and instead of showering just before your bedtime, try having a shower after putting the kids to bed. You can then slip into more comfortable clothing and feel more relaxed for the rest of the evening. It also helps with the morning routine as it’ll be one less thing to do.
4. Pacing Pacing is really important.
It is part of tweaking your lifestyle but it’s as much a mental thing as it is a practical one. Living life in peaks and troughs is exhausting. Of course there’re will always be busier times than others but it is a good idea to work toward softening the peaks so the troughs become less deep. For example, you can apply this in managing the number of late nights you have each week and always make sure you have space for an early night afterwards. In other words, it means never pushing yourself so far that you need a week to recover. Also half an hour of additional sleep each night makes for 3.5hrs of extra sleep a week. Not to be dismissed if you’re feeling tired.
5. Nutrition, exercise and fresh air
Giving your body what it needs in healthy food, appropriate exercise, fresh air and hydration is crucial and if you look after your body well, it will look after you. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to take the holistic view. Energy is needed for all our activities – physical of course but also mental and emotional. The brain is the organ that uses the most energy and emotions require a lot of energy so here I would like to draw your attention to that aspect of your energy management.
6. Balancing energy
The key here is to increase your awareness about what is particularly taxing to you. A great exercise for this is what I call the ‘Energy Bank Account’. Our capital of energy works very similarly to a balance sheet ‘income’ vs ‘expenditure’. So over a week or so, write down the things that replenish you and those that tire you. Remember to include all three parts (physical, mental and emotional). This will give you a clearer picture of how balanced your life is at this point. Paying attention to how you manage your energy is as much trying to reduce the amount of things that drain you as it is to increase the number of things that energise you.
Increasing energy is not all about getting more sleep and resting. Knowing and including more of the things that make you feel good into your routine is a key part of positive energy management.
Here is a short (non-exhaustive) list of energy sapping items:
- Lack of organisation
- Fire fighting
- Unresolved situations
- Heightened stress (e.g. divorce, bereavement, house move, financial problems, job issues, disputes)
- Fighting and arguing
- Negative thinking patterns or emotions
- Noise and agitation
And here is a short (non-exhaustive) list of energy boosting ideas:
- A cuddle
- Singing or playing music
- Doing something you love
- Dancing (even in the kitchen whilst cooking)
- Spending time with friends
- Enjoying time with your children
- Treating yourself (as long as it’s not a guilty treat – guilt is a great energy sapper)
- Going for a walk, being in nature
- Meditation, mindfulness, prayer, breathing or deep relaxation
- Silence, daydreaming, staring into space
- Loving (including love-making)
Keep Your Children Entertained:
Keeping your children entertained is something that can help keep your energy levels up in a big way. Skill toys like yo-yo's, kendama, and begleri are all toys that can help keep your kids entertained while you take some time to relax.
These are not easy ‘how to’ steps but if you learn to gradually and patiently incorporate them into your life, they will help to increase your energy and enhance your wellbeing. At times when things are tough and out of your control, be mindful to be even kinder to yourself and consciously increase the number of energy boosters that work for you. This will help to counter-balance the strain. If you have any thoughts, comments or questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you.
Svetlina O'Regan Written by Svetlina O’Regan. Svetlina is on the Toddle About Panel of Experts. She is a therapist and coach who specialises in working with mothers on issues such as stress management, work/life balance and personal development. Svetlina runs courses for women, group coaching and offers one-to-one therapy. She works with mothers to help them develop themselves so they can create the life they want for themselves and their family.
You can contact Svetlina on 07939 598 779 and you can find out more at www.blossomhousehypnotherapy.co.uk.