Why we should embrace the rollercoaster energy idea of life.
So many normal human functions have highs and lows if you track them. Our sleep cycle fluctuates between awake, sleep, REM, and deep sleep. Our blood pressure and blood sugar can spike and drop, as can our stress levels. These fluctuations are normal and healthy. But we tend to expect our energy to stay at a consistently high flat line. There is this (very American) idea that we, theoretically, should move from sleep to full energy from the moment we wake up and maintain that energy all day until bedtime, where we easily slip back into sleep. This is, as we know, nearly impossible and highly unsustainable.
We often hear the saying that “life is a rollercoaster”, so why aren’t we embracing that idea more? Our energy levels mirror this same rollercoaster effect, so I think it is time to start embracing the healthy highs and lows of our daily energy.
A proposed daily rollercoaster of energy:
- Morning: We should allow ourselves to wake up slowly, perhaps with some morning stretching and soft lighting. We can then ramp up to higher energy, perhaps with a morning workout or by biking to work. By late morning, our energy might be waning again. A 15-minute break to read a few pages, stretch your neck, or have a snack might be just what you need.
- Afternoon: Take your energy back up a notch by saving half of your lunch time for a walk. Some fresh air and vitamin D is the perfect way to reset your brain for the rest of the day. Or, depending on your work schedule, take a siesta at home before heading back into work. An afternoon nap is one of my cat’s favorite things and I think she is on to something. Around 3PM, it is time for another break. Do as the Swedes do and have a fika, or a coffee break complete with a sweet treat and time with coworkers or friends. Whether at a nearby coffee shop or in the office kitchen, use this break to boost your energy back up and power through the rest of your work day.
- Evening: If you can, perk up post-work with a bike ride commute home. Or go on a short walk around the block to clear your head from the workday before walking in the door. Then work to slowly lower your energy a few hours before bed. Maybe skip dinner through intermittent fasting as I do to allow your body to complete the work of digesting food before bed. Or crack open a book and set out your clothes and prep your lunch for the upcoming work day. Before bed, turn the lights down low and get some gentle stretching in. Then curl up in bed and read, journal, or talk with your partner before dozing off. This will let your energy naturally lower before you head to sleep and power down for the night.
I fully understand that some of these recommendations just aren’t feasible to some, or even most, readers. Working non-business hours, having kids, or long commutes can throw off most of these recommendations. But take inspiration from this idea of embracing natural energy fluctuations and adapt it to fit your life.
Ups and downs are natural. And it is up to us to make the most out of the ride.
What tricks do you have to ride your energy rollercoaster in the best way? Let us know below.