Getting a good night’s sleep, making time for exercise and (happily) maintaining an active social life can all help you to have more energy and be more productive. While many of us understand this in theory, we often fall down when it comes to following through and actually incorporating such behaviours into our daily routines. There are three other, even simpler, practices that are easy to incorporate into your daily life. Adopt these healthy habits, and in time you will notice your mood improves and your energy levels increase, according to Amagoia Eizaguirre.
1. Set alarms – and not just to wake up in the morning
Using a traditional alarm clock instead of the one on your phone is a simple secret to a better night’s sleep: you won’t pick up your phone and get distracted when all you wanted to do was check the time.
That said, the alarms on your mobile device can be helpful in two situations, according to Eizaguirre. The first is if you use them to limit how often you use your phone. “On average, we spend four hours a day looking at our mobile phones, and then we find we don’t have enough time to see our friends, rest or take care of errands. I set timetables for myself, with alarms that tell me when I have spent too long looking at my phone and it’s time to put it down,” she explains.
Rather than create rigid schedules – because I know the stress I would feel if I couldn’t look at my mobile outside of set windows – I try not to spend more than 10 minutes at a time scrolling for pleasure. To stick to that limit, I set a stopwatch when I start looking at any social platform (some apps, including Instagram, allow you to set limits on your use: you’ll get an alert when your allotted time is almost up). This also helps me to turn my engagement with these platforms from mindless scrolling into a conscious practice.
Eizaguirre also recommends using the alarm on your phone to remind yourself that it is time to go to sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day contributes to improved sleep, and an alarm will help you stick to a consistent schedule rather than getting distracted by other tasks – or deciding to watch just one more episode of your current Netflix show.
2. Prioritise seeing friends who enrich your life
All of us know people who lift our mood – and people who seem to suck the energy out of us. It’s important to be able to distinguish between the two. I make every effort to find moments to spend with the positive people in my life, even if it’s just a quick coffee, a short walk together, or a phone call. It’s not necessary to block out an entire afternoon – although that would be ideal and is great when time allows. Instead, find a way to touch base on a daily basis, and let their positive energy boost yours. We are all busy, but we can still rededicate some of the many hours we spend on our phones to connecting with the people we love.
As for those energy drains in our lives, Eizaguirre recommends, “protecting ourselves from them. It’s okay to mute them or even block them on social media. It won’t be the end of the world.”
Eizaguirre also recommends being realistic when it comes to our own schedules, and cautions against overextend yourself. “We know that if our mobile phone battery is down to 10 per cent, we have to recharge it, and yet we often push ourselves to the limit. Let’s not force ourselves to do things that are simply too much. At the start of the day, check your agenda and cross out or postpone tasks depending on how much energy you have,” she suggests. What I do is number my tasks according to their importance. If I don’t get around to completing the ones at the bottom of my list, I move them to the next day without any drama or guilt. I know that sooner or later I will get everything done.
3. Create your own exercise moments
I can’t stand going to the gym or running or pretty much anything to do with exercise. But I know that physical activity is good for me, that it makes me feel better, and that it’s essential if I want to have more energy and feel better during the day. Eizaguirre says that “we must aspire to have a more active life and to connect with nature. This allows us to reconnect to who we are, helping us be more creative while improving our wellbeing.” Because it’s often difficult to squeeze a long workout into a busy work schedule, Eizaguirre suggests making the effort to regularly get up from your office chair and go outside for brief breaks – or at least walk to the window (some experts recommend that we take these breaks every 50 minutes in an office environment). When you have the opportunity, go to a nearby park “to reset your energy and feel better”.
A habit that works for me is to walk (quickly and without stopping) for as many of my daily journeys as I can. (It’s a tip I have copied from some of my French friends.) For example, I walk to work and back, instead of taking public transport. I also go for a walk during my lunch break and then when I go back to the office I feel refreshed.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.