After the shock and restrictions of lockdown, most of us are now trying to work out what the “new normal” will look like as we learn to live alongside coronavirus. Tackling the challenges and opportunities of the coming months will require plenty of energy, so we spoke to Ian Hacon, Chief Energy Officer of Energise.me, to get his tips for rebuilding our energy levels, as part of our Obelisk Live series.
#1 Focus on the fundamentals
Diet, exercise and sleep all make an essential contribution to our energy levels. For many of us, these have been disrupted by the recent lockdown. Some changes may have been positive, with reports of extra time for cooking at home or exercise, for example. However some of us may also have lost positive habits without realising it, such as taking regular breaks away from our screens or drinking water throughout the day. Now is the time to take stock and choose what you need to stop, start and continue. In particular, Ian calls out sleep, “As we’ve all been at home so much, it’s easy to be on our devices up until we go to bed, which can be detrimental to the quality and amount of sleep we get”, says Ian, “Safeguard your sleep, make sure you have time away from your screens before you go to bed and avoid taking time away from your resting hours in order to try to do more, it will be counter-productive over the longer term.”
#2 Identify a priority change you want to make
“You can only ever start from where you are as an individual”, says Ian, “Don’t slavishly follow someone else’s plan and don’t fall into the trap of believing everything you see other people sharing on social media. It’s much better to identify one activity that’s important to you, embed that in your routine and then move on to something else than to attempt eight or nine different things, none of which stick”. Think about your physical, mental and emotional energy levels and choose to focus on making changes in the area that you think will make the biggest positive difference. Changes don’t have to be huge to make a big difference. Ian recommends identifying “baby steps”, for example if you already walk for half an hour a day, then try to make that 45 minutes, then an hour. Or try to go further or over a range of terrain in that time. Ian points that even professional work can be made more active; take calls standing up or walking outside, or invest in a sit/stand desk so that you are not sitting down all the time.
#3 Put activities that replenish your energy at the top of your “to-do list”
Working from home full-time can mean that the boundaries between work, other responsibilities, fun and rest become blurred. Make a conscious decision to prioritise activities that restore your energy levels and block this time out on your “to-do list” or work calendar. For example, a walk or a run in the morning can set you up to release endorphins, the chemicals our body produces that make us feel good, all day. Make this an action on your schedule and give it the same level of importance as you do a work call or commitment.
#4 Make the most of “magnet habits”
Some changes can naturally lead you to make other positive changes alongside them. For example, if you start scheduling regular breaks in your day, you can use these as opportunities for extra hydration or to eat a healthy meal. These “magnet habits” help you to embed changes into your routine for the long-term, so plan to get the most out of them. Take ten minutes at the start of each day to stock up with prepared fruit and vegetables for snacks and keep a big jug of water on your desk, so that it’s easy to make a healthy choice.
#5 Enjoy the journey
For Ian, running just 30 minutes more a week took him to representing Team GB in the triathlon and on to leading his own well-being business. Make changes slowly, build new habits and enjoy the process of finding new ways to look after yourself. “Recent events will have left lots of us more aware of our health and determined to look after it”, says Ian, “Now is the time to take your first steps on that road.”