Maybe you have kids. Maybe you have a job that keeps you much more than busy; Or, you have 3 000 different interests and you find yourself, despite your best intentions, with the agenda of a CEO. And you add, task after task, because everything is important; Until the moment you no longer have the strength to get up and you dream of spending the day in bed. The season would be conducive.. So how do we improve our daily lives? Are there any tricks to regain positive energy in your tickled and distracted lives? Without necessarily having to wait for the next vacation? Here are some useful reflections!
Personal statement. I know some tricks to regain positive energy, and yet..
For several weeks I slept less than 7 hours a night. I quit my yoga class. Filled my agenda until Sunday midnight. At first I managed well, felt almost more effective. Then, little by little, signs came up. Strong headaches right when picking up the kids. My back and neck become stiff. Feeling down.. Negative thoughts.. And a lot, a lot of fatigue.
One afternoon I decided to pick up the kids earlier to have time and play with them. I tried to forget my not-yet-completed to-do-list, and hugged my son tight. Then we got to my daughter's school. A slight headache.
The phone rang just when we were in front of her class.. I spent three minutes on my phone, while my daughter was trying to show me her drawings.
And then, I don't remember exactly, maybe her brother took her a piece of afternoon snack; she burst into desperate tears. My headache rising, while I still had the phone in my hands, and the other moms talking to me at the same time.
By the time we got to calm down, and go home, we barely had enough time to take a bath and prepare dinner. I try my best everything to do more things with my children.. up to the point that I no longer have the energy to be with them. Click.
Different sources, same findings
Shortly afterwards, I received the messages I needed to understand what wasn't working and push refresh. The first was a video that is part of an online course in positive discipline (in French) to which I am enrolled (I already wrote about that speaking of the power of choice and child's needs vs. desires).
The second message was in the form of a Ted Talk (those who follow my newsletter have already had a first glimpse) about stress management in 3 steps, which take up from the way we talk to children.
We live crazy lives, where we run incessantly and where our attention is centered on several things at once. We are always under a lot of stress. Our ability to focus decreases more and more.. And all of this has a lot of negative consequences: depression, burnout, neuro-degenerative diseases. What shall we do?
These two women are not talking about the same subject. Yet I found my answer.. It's so simple and powerful at the same time that I wanted to share it with you. Whether you're parents or not, it'll help you regain your positive energy!
The 5 tips to regain your positive energy
Ironically, I had already started this article when I had to realize that I was myself in the same situation! I know the strategies, but I have trouble giving myself the means to insert them into my daily life.
Yes, but how? Was always my inner answer.. Because we know about a lot of good habits, but on a daily basis, between our jobs; the children; documents and administrative stuff that must be done; our house and inherent errands..
Easy to get lost, forget our good proposals, or just don't (want to) find the time; exhausted by several attempts for no longer feeling exhausted!
More energy? I get up in the morning wishing to be a bear in winter !.. And when I'm asked: How are you today?! "Okay.. I dream of locking myself in the garden shed so that no one can find me for a few days but I'm fine." Don't you feel sometimes the same too?
Is there a secret to regain your positive energy? Because if you want to feel great, smile and take full advantage of everything life offers you, you need first and foremost a lot of inner energy.
When I was researching for this article, I discovered that under different labels and philosophies, the secrets to overcome chronic fatigue and regain the pleasure of everyday life, revolve around the same principle: regaining the balance between our mind and our bodies.
- Manage your posture!
- Think about breathing 🙂
- 1, 2, 3: Smile!
- Listen to your body
- Remember the beautiful and say thank you
Let's see how, without necessarily becoming yogis in a convent;)
Regain your positive energy, let's go : 1. The Posture !
See, I already caught me crossing legs three times. Such a bad automatism ! What's the use of paying attention to such things?
Posture influences our thoughts, our ability to make decisions, our feelings, and the impression we give to others.
I've discovered some very interesting things. For example, according to research conducted by professors Erik Peper (San Francisco State University) and Richard Petty (Ohio State University), if we sit with head, shoulders and neck crouching down, we will tend to express negative opinions of ourselves, and to remember bad experiences; while if we keep shoulders and necks straight and backwards, and head up, we will tend to focus on our positive traits, and to remember our good experiences.
The professors even suggest a correlation between nowadays higher frequency of bad postures, caused by sitting in front of our computer all day and/or looking at the phone, so head down; and the increase in depression cases in recent years.
Let's straighten up, turn chest, shoulders and neck slightly backwards. Let's try to remember it every day!
Moving with our kids
We also find tips for children! One day when my son was particularly grumpy in the morning, I remembered this exercise. I discovered it this summer thanks to French coach Laurent Marchand.
All right, let's go!
Jump and count to 30!
The kids will start grinning and laughing. And you, too! It makes us move, it relaxes us, it reboosts us. Once a day 🙂
Regain your positive energy, let's go: 2. A little air 🙂
We discussed it here : breathing is an essential and yet often forgotten act; some good deep breaths throughout our day help us empower our relationships.
Several times this morning I realized I was literally holding my breath..! And yet all it takes is to think about it. 3 good deep breaths when our children annoy us, or we are stressed, help us to return to the present moment and erase those defeating thoughts.
When we are under stress, the "rational" part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex, shuts down in order to let our limbic sistem act. A good intake of oxygen helps the brain to "reconnect" the neo-cortex before going into the "fight or flight" response. (To learn a little more about the brain, it's here; about our physical reactions to stress, it's this way).
It can be taught to our children as well. For the little ones it's funny and playful, but they still understand the practical use.
Let's breathe three times! And little by little, we can offer them to breathe when there's a major crisis.. Like, your brother just took a bite of your snack. Until they do it on their own initiative. (Tested on my 3-year-old son 😉 ).
3.Regain your positive energy? Choose a smile. Now!
Okay, that sounds stupid. In general, we think in the opposite way: we smile when we feel good, and not the opposite. But research has shown the reverse is also true: our body influences our emotions and feelings.
The act of smiling releases neuropeptides, molecules that facilitate the communication between neurons; and also neurotransmitters: dopamine, endorphin and serotonin, which lower our heart rate and blood pressure, and act as anti-depressants.
(Seaward BL. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Well-Being. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett; 2009:258; R.d. (2000). Neural correlates of conscious emotional experience. In R.D. Lane & L. Nadel (Eds.), Cognitive Neuroscience of Emotion (pp. 345 – 370). New York: Oxford University Press; Karren KJ, et al. Mind/Body Health: The Effect of Attitudes, emotions and relationships. New York, N.Y.: Benjamin Cummings, 2010:461. All detailed in these articles : 1, 2 and 3.)
Further research has shown that people who smile a lot live longer. The researchers analyzed the photos and the smiles of Baseball players taken in 1952, and searched what those same players had become. Those who smiled lived, on average, 2 years longer, and with a more stable familiar situation.
Take the test for a few days. Every time you feel tense, tired and irritable, smile. Smile every time you meet someone. (It makes you look more attractive according to this experiment and even more competent!)
Yes, you can smile to people you meet down the street, even to those you don't know! Sometimes I cross the eyes of other passers-by, and when someone smiles at me, it makes me feel so good! I feel accepted, like I have my place in this world. It's just a tension in our facial muscles, but it can cheer up a whole day!
If smiling is not enough to regain your positive energy, then laugh!
If you get such effects just from smiling, imagine what bursting into a laugh can do??
Turn an annoying situation towards its ironic side! 🙂
Truth to be told, sometimes I have a hard time in finding this moment of calm and solitude that allows me to think funny.. If you have young children like me, then you'll understand what I mean.
For we will need to use this "technique" mostly in the late afternoons or evenings, when we're tired, but the children want our company; they'll soon be hungry so we should get dinner ready; getting calmly in our room so that we can think about something funny and have a laugh is just.. Fantasy.
Now, the night I had my strong headache, the children were shouting because they wanted ME RIGHT NOW; I got it.
(First of all I took some paracetamol. When you need it, you need it. And I forced myself to sleep at least seven hours per night. No compromise on sleep).
I took my children in my arms, for a big hug. Then I waited. Two minutes, and my son looked at me with his black eyes shining with irony. I can't remember what he told me, but he made me laugh. Sometimes you just have to know where to look..
Regain your positive energy, let's go: 4. Your body
Know how and when to stop or slow down. Follow the hormones' flow (sorry guys, but we so often forget that this is a reality for women!!). The body's signals.
For me this is the most difficult part. It works pretty much like this: I have a project. It could be for my job, or a new online course, a training, a sport activity, or even better, all at the same time.
I load my schedule of activities that are all a priority to me. I add them to my "basic" routine : the children, my couple, our house, some time to rest.
As I add some hyper-important stuff, I start to gain minutes off my sleep, my meditation and my mental rest.
As I leave less and less calm time to reflect and prioritize, I persist in my attempt to do everything. Everything's important!
But then there are those nights when I fall asleep before my children. The months when my cycle comes with a wave of headaches. Or neck and shoulders so stiff that it wakes me up at night. For my husband, it's the forgetfulness. He begins to forget his appointments, or important things like the keys to the apartment.. It took us years to learn to recognize the signals.
And you, what are yours? What do you do when you realize it? For it is sometimes necessary to learn how to say no, give up on things that are close to our hearts, and risk disappointing others..
Helping children to regain positive energy too!
My children sometimes are so tired in the evening. They don't smile, they complain about just anything; my daughter in particular can't control her anger.
When I got to her school last week, she didn't even say hello. She was ignoring me.
Focused on her drawing, certainly. Besides, she had had a long day, I can understand.
Her answers were more and more provocative. Either she was complaining about something, or she was attacking me.
At one point, she pushed her brother who wanted to look closely at the drawing she was about to finish. Then, on the way to the house, she almost fell off her bike. "Mom, it's always your fault!" cried to me in tears.
At each of my requests and proposals, the answer came like a dagger: You never let me choose! You always do what you want! I don't want to listen to you! And so on.
At the table, she refused to eat, screaming.. "Go to bed, honey, you're tired. You rest ten minutes, and then you can join us when you feel calmer and rested." NO!
Why leave the group, interrupt one's activities, give up ten minutes of playing to just rest ?
We parents rarely give the good example. "Kids, I need to lie down ten minutes, so that I can then play with you!"
Now it makes sense. Because when our child has the ability to understand his need to rest, and does so before returning into the community, it's so much more enjoyable! But hardly do we know how to model this.
The week I was telling you about, there was a public holiday in the middle of the week. The children slept as long as they needed, no schedule.. My daughter was another person the next day. Smiling, cheerful, collaborative.. Magic of Sleep.
5. To regain positive energy, let's try the gratitude
To bring gratitude into our daily lives, we must first learn to concentrate, to remember the beautiful moments of the day.
When we're not used to it, we tend to think about the big things, and can't seem to find anything to say. But hey, we can't celebrate mega events, or be promoted, get a raise or schedule a vacation every day.
First of all: why is it so important to look at small things? Why cultivate gratitude? How is it useful to regain your positive energy?
Regain your positive energy thanks to gratitude? The research
Here are some experiments. In a first study, the researchers took a group of almost 300 young adults who had applied for psychological therapy within the university.
The researchers divided them into 3 groups: a first group only followed a psychotherapy program; a second group had, in addition to the psychotherapy, to write about negative experiences, while a third group, always in addition to psychotherapy, had to keep a gratitude journal.
After 4 weeks, the group that kept the gratitude journal showed higher levels of energy, enthusiasm, optimism, determination and attention. After 12 weeks, the results were also visible in the brain.
In another study, the researchers measured the blood flow in different regions of the brain, when participants were led to recollect feelings of gratitude.
They found that gratitude particularly activated the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls many physical functions such as sleep, metabolism and stress levels. This has important implications because it seems increasingly obvious that gratitude helps to sleep better, fight depression, and feel less pain.
In addition, feelings of gratitude also activate parts of the brain associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine acts as a kind of reward, prompting the brain to seek the same action that made us feel this positive way.
So the more we train to "think positive" and to thank for the little things, the more our brain will seek these sensations, in a virtuous circle!
You can read more about the science of gratitude here.
How you can train to regain your positive energy
It's about practicing the intrinsic motivations of joy. As long as we are looking for facts outside us to raise our spirits, we will be subject to highs and lows depending on what happens to us.
On the other hand, in the case of negative situations, we easily go into a vicious circle: the negative situation makes us feel sad / depressed/ without energy.
This mindset prevents us from rebounding faster and regaining the positive energy which, in turn, helps us to live positive situations - because we must not forget: our mindset conditions a lot of our lives and what happens to us!
Facing the day with enthusiasm transforms us, and transforms those who are around us (especially our children!).
In practice, how can you avoid getting caught up in a routine that often prevents us from taking the time to enjoy every little moment?
Today's most beautiful things
Make an appointment with your moments of joy. For us it's dinner time. My son asks at every meal:
What's today's most beautiful thing?
When we're sitting at the dinner tabla, we exchange around our respective beautiful moments of the day.
As I want to teach them, I often lead the game : My children tend to repeat the same thing, which is watching cartoons. So I set up a small competition about who's able to say the more of those moments. And I'm trying to win of course!
This pushes me to look at my day with a different eye: I have to detail my little moments.
Sometimes it's the joy-filled look of my child when he sees his boyfriend/girlfriend reaching out to him. Or exchange a moment of complicity. Cook a particular dish. See a beautiful sunset. Have an honest conversation with a colleague.. Get a comment on this blog 🙂
This exchange is also a beautiful way to maintain an open and sincere discussion between us, at least once a day.
Or, you can take a piece of paper and a pen, and write. Just do it every day, or once a week; and persevere 🙂
Our brain gets used to feeding on those little moments and looking for them throughout the day, to be able to remember them when you need to list them.
On a daily basis?
You may think that these tips are too simple, for hippies of the new era.. Yet I believe that when something is wrong, there are many different phases we go through.
We realize that we are not going well. Not so obvious sometimes, when our days are filled with tasks, errands and people
We then need to take the time to discover the profound reason behind our feelings.
We set new goals, to help us get out of the hole. A new impetus, a motivation to push us.
The only concern is that if you start by choosing an ambitious goal, you expose yourselves to a great risk of failure, which will cause you to plunge back to the bottom of your black hole. Today's 5 tips are intended to provide you with "small steps"; Simple, accessible actions for a better start.
At first you'll feel like you're not going anywhere. But if you trust me and you continue with this exercise, you will see that something in you is starting to move..
To conclude, I simplify
The night I had this sudden realization I wrote to you at the beginning of this (long) article, I promised my children that we would have played a little after dinner. But I still had unanswered messages on my phone. So I took it with me to the toilet, to listen to them in secret while brushing my teeth..(I know, I know).
After a few minutes, my daughter came in, took my phone and said, "Stop it with that phone, mom, I'll take it." Regaining my energy also means concentrating on what is essential. Fortunately I have my children to remind me..
How about you? Do you sometimes have periods of deep fatigue? How do you recognize the symptoms, how do you deal with it? Tell us all! And if you want some practical suggestions of areas you could simplify in your life, read here!