Here we are in the throes of the holiday season’s joyous chaos and the end-of-year rush at work. At times like this, it is especially important that we maintain our physical and mental stamina. Our bodies need to be energized and our minds must be clear so we can run all the errands, make all the plans and meet all the deadlines. If you feel your stamina waning, try these five ways of improving and maintaining the energy you need.
Stamina Boosting Tips
1. Cardio Exercises
Exercise improves stamina by circulating oxygen and causing the body to release epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that make you feel energized. The best exercises for stamina are cardiovascular, or aerobic, and use the major muscle groups repetitively. Good exercises to increase stamina include running, brisk walking and cycling. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes, three days per week. Exercise also improves your sleep, which is important to maintaining your stamina.
Related: “Five Ways to Stay Energized”
2. Proper Sleep
Adults need about eight hours of sleep each night, give or take 30 to 60 minutes. While each of us has an exact amount of sleep that we need, we all need approximately eight hours. Not just eight hours of being in the bed, tossing and turning, but actually sleeping. Sleep is particularly important to physical and mental stamina because sleep deprivation increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system and clouds your memory and thinking. Sleep deprivation also decreases the production of glycogen and carbohydrates that are stored for energy use during physical activity. This means that lack of sleep leads to physical fatigue and low energy.
You can determine how much sleep you really need by going to bed when you are tired, sleeping in a dark, cool room, and waking up naturally (without an alarm clock). After a few days, you’ll better understand exactly how much sleep you need.
3. A Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is critical to both mental and physical stamina. Food is the fuel that runs our minds and bodies, and a healthy diet will allow your body and mind to function optimally. Ensure that you are eating a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins. Eating whole foods (foods that are not highly processed and packaged) will give your body and brain the nutrients they need to function well. It will also keep your digestive system healthy, which improves your immune system and helps ensure you don’t get sick.
Related: “Five Healthy Holiday Travel Tips”
Recent scientific research has proved the benefits of meditation to our overall health and well-being. The “downtime” of meditation allows our brains time to rejuvenate and reflect, which calms the mind and the body so we are able to act with clarity, focus and purpose. A regular meditation practice, of just five minutes per day, will increase your mental stamina.
Related: “Slow It Down: Lessons for Women Lawyers”
5. Hourly Breaks
When we take breaks in our workday every hour, we increase our stamina. Our brains are not designed to focus for longer than about 50 minutes. By taking a short break — to stand up, get a glass of water or walk around — we actually increase our mental stamina because we never let our brain start to fatigue from focusing beyond its capacity. It may seem counterintuitive that you can achieve more by taking more breaks, but give it a try. You will see that at the end of the day you’ve achieved as much as before and you won’t feel so fatigued.
Now go be energized!
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