Jihan (not her real name) was a sister who had been feeling a bit disenchanted with her life, as though nothing she was doing seemed worthwhile. She was having a hard time getting up in the mornings.
After a few weeks of mentoring and learning that she would really like to help organize a community event that would help university students who were having difficulty paying for their educational expenses, I asked her how she was doing. Jihan said, with much excitement,
"I'm waking up without the aid of an alarm clock!"
And I thought, "Well, that's the essence of a happy life!". To be so excited about what you are doing that even your sleep becomes secondary means that you are living with the energy, purpose, and action required to make the most of your days.
It is about rising and shining in these days when the routines of our lives can bore us, or even worse, exhaust us. It would do us some major good to find the things and activities that will boost our energy, rejuvenate us, and give us that happy life. Here are seven ideas to get you jump out of bed and go through your day with an abundance of energy:
1. Move it
Exercise is one of the top ways to boost your energy. The more active you are, the better you will feel, and the more vitality you will have. I had a friend who would start her daily stretches before she left her bedroom every morning. I am told this is a habit of many in the eastern countries as well.
A nice stretch incorporates all your major muscle groups and increases your stamina and flexibility. A good, slow stretch has us elongating our entire bodies and inhaling healthy breaths to all of our bodily parts. Later on in the day, walk when you can or fit in a workout for continued bursts of energy.
This is especially important if your work or lifestyle calls for lots of sedentary inactivity (like sitting at a desk all day).
Bonus: With exercise comes the release of the "feel good" hormones, endorphins thus, this is a natural way to boost our mood and bring more happiness into our days.
2. Eat right
The human body moves with fuel, and if we desire to treat our bodies right, it makes lots of sense to give them the best kind of fuel. While snacks laden with sugars and fats might give us a sudden burst of energy, the spike is usually just that: a spike. It won't last for long — and it definitely won't do us any good.
Choosing a fuel that contains complex carbohydrates (like fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains) and proteins (like nuts or eggs) has a staying power and may help us combat illness or disease.
Bonus: A really healthy way to get chocolate is to try dark chocolate. It contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that increases energy by improving both our mood and our attention span. So, it can make us smarter too. Yum!
3. Do fun things
Getting together with friends or visiting a fun park are some things that might make you laugh, but did you know that they are also things that would lift your energy level too? In fact, if an activity makes you feel good, those very useful endorphins are raised and start acting to get the blood pump to your heart, thereby invigorating your body.
So, find some invigorating experiences to enjoy and find the energy for all your days.
Bonus: It's worthwhile to check on the negative people who might be bringing you down or the tasks that are so laborsome that they deplete your energy. If you can cut them out, strive to do.
4. Drink water
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, "No human ever filled a vessel worse than his stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third [of the abdomen's capacity should be] for his food, one third for his drink, and one third for his breath."
If we consider that the water in our stomachs should be equal in amount to the food that we consume, we would realize that we are probably walking around dehydrated.
The benefits of water for our health and wellness are thoroughly documented. Our bodies need water to transport oxygen to our cells, and without it moving, we experience headaches and fatigue. To avoid this, make sure you get enough water.
Bonus: Water is considered to be an important factor in the anti-aging process. It keeps our skin supple and well-nourished, making us look healthy and younger for longer.
5. Calm down
The opposite of feel good hormones (endorphins) are the stress ones, like cortisol, which can play executioner to our health and well-being — especially as time progresses. When we worry or obsess about things, cortisol is released, and it prevents us from getting enough sleep by suppressing the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that lowers our body temperature in order that we can sleep.
Anyone who has spent the night getting obsessed about a fight they had with someone or fretting about a particular situation would know what I’m talking about. When we worry, we can't sleep, and this, of course, drains us of energy and stamina.
The more we practice ways of taking deep breaths, calming down, and clearing our minds of the thoughts that ail us, the better we'll get at it. A good way to counter worrisome thoughts as they come to you is to ask yourself if the threat is real. Is there a way to minimize it and realize that you aren't in any immediate danger? Is there a du`aa' that you can say to calm yourself?
Bonus: By reminding ourselves that Allah is the best to plan for us, and that He has said that a soul is not burdened by more than what it can bear, we can learn to relax and get rewards for our patience and endurance. It's a no-loss situation.
6. Get some fresh air
Sunlight is a natural energy booster, and in these days of computers and work based indoors, we hardly get enough of it. But if we make a concentrated effort to enjoy it each day, we will reap the benefits.
Studies show that spending time outdoors is beneficial by reducing stress hormones and lowering blood pressure. Sunlight can also increase the body’s production of serotonin, which lifts the mood and increases energy — a fact that explains why people who live in parts of the earth that do not get enough sunlight are actually more prone to a mood condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Bonus: Soak up the sun and get some natural vitamin D by doing so. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, and prone to the debilitating disease known as osteoporosis.
7. Try something new
We've talked about the good hormones (endorphins) and the evil ones (cortisol), but we haven't mentioned dopamine. Dopamine is the brain's "reward" hormone, and it makes us feel a sense of achievement and gives us that "oomph" in our days. And the best way to release it is to take on something new and then do what it takes to get it done.
When we take a general-interest class or a travel to a place we have never been to, the novelty of it gives us a surge of energy and can actually inspire us to want to do more in order to increase the feeling.
Just like Jihan working on the community event to help struggling students, the newness of a worthy project can give us the same zest for life. It can inspire us to do something that will benefit ourselves and the society around us — and give us the energy to rise and shine each and every morning with no alarm clock required!