When I feel like my energy levels are depleted, I ask myself: What could (unknowingly) be draining my energy stores? Is my body feeling tired or weak because I haven’t gotten enough nutrients or water? Is stress weighing me down mentally?
In Ayurveda, a holistic medical system with roots in India that I studied for four years in an Ayurvedic practitioner program (under my teacher Vaidya Jay), a balanced, harmonious state of being is known as sattva. (Sattva is one of Ayurveda’s three core gunas, or qualities of nature—the other two being rajas, or movement and passion, and tamas, or stagnation). According to these ancient teachings, cultivating sattva is key for maintaining energy—the more centered we are, the more energy we have—and doing so requires addressing both your physical and mental needs.
Here are the habits I’ve cultivated to maintain my energy throughout the day.
1. Start the day with a nutritious breakfast…
Dehydration can cause a drop in your mood, energy, and alertness, so I like to reach for a glass of room temperature water as well as some hot water with lemon first thing when I wake up. As for what’s on my plate: fruit, veggies, and other fiber-rich foods, which have been shown to support energy balance. A go-to of mine is a green smoothie that’s chock full of spinach, romaine, apple and pear (for sweetness!), lemon, and more.
2. … and a little meditation
I find that the most powerful practice for centering myself, and therefore maintaining my energy, is a morning meditation. It might only be five to 10 minutes, but it helps me get in tune with my breath and body, and feel more connected to myself. This helps me be less reactive to the external world throughout the rest of my day.
If you want to give it a try, I recommend meditating as close as possible to when you wake up, ideally before you check your email or social media.
3. Try eating sattvic foods
Ayurveda teaches that food is energy at its core and therefore influences our energy. Sattvic foods—which include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, sprouted seeds, and nuts—contribute to an energetically centered, harmonious state of being. Sattvic foods include vegetables, fruit, whole grains, sprouted seeds and nuts.
To incorporate sattvic foods into your routine, you can try combining raw and cooked veggies from mid-morning through lunch and any afternoon snacks. For an energy-stabilizing lunch, for instance, I’d start with a big base of a salad, then layer on roasted, sauteed, or steamed veggies, and top with a heavier protein like lentils, quinoa, or so on. And I love snacking on veggies and hummus, sprouted seeds, or coconut yogurt and Goji berries.
4. Take breaks throughout the day
Stress is linked to feelings of tiredness and fatigue. You likely know this already: Think about how exhausted you feel after dealing with some drama that plays out in your family or in a friendship, after getting in an argument with a co-worker, or making your way through a never-ending to-do list!
To avoid stress building up, I make a conscious effort to release it throughout the day with little breaks. Just five minutes of moving in a way that feels good can do wonders for your energy and focus. (Pro tip: If you can swing it, getting outside into the fresh air can give you an added boost.) Breath is also really powerful, so I make sure to take deep breaths all day long and fit in a mini meditation when I can.
5. Turn on “do not disturb”
I find that the constant pings of alerts on my phone and computer can cause a chaotic energy—they pull me in multiple directions and destroy my concentration. So, to stay centered, I try to turn them off as much as possible.
6. Find perspective
The minutiae of everyday life can be overwhelming—and draining. So before I become entangled in others’ conflicts, I take a step back and ask myself if my opinion is really needed. Do I need to give mental space to office gossip or celebrity hijinks? (Probably not!)
Pulling back your energy from extraneous drama and inconsequential choices, even in micro ways, allows you to direct it towards the stuff that actually matters to you: your goals, the people you love, contributing your unique talents to the world. I’ve found that learning not to sweat the small stuff leaves me feeling more expansive and more peaceful. (And I’m willing to bet you’d find this true, too.)