As we head into the holidays, it’s easy to let ourselves get overwhelmed and fatigued. And yet, we need to feel strong and focused to accomplish what we want to with our writing. In short, we need energy. The word energy comes from two Greek words, “energeia,” which means activity and “erg,” meaning work, all of which means that our energy level determines our work level. To help keep our natural fund of energy high, here’s a simple formula we can all use: F.R.A.M.E.
Food: To sustain your strength and stamina, make sure your diet includes plenty of water, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. Blueberries and cocoa, for instance, can give you laser-like focus for up to five hours; meat, milk, eggs, and fish all boost concentration.
Rest: Whatever amount of sleep you require to work at optimal levels — whether it’s seven hours, eight or more — make it a point to get the rest you need on a regular basis. If you find yourself flagging, try taking short naps of 15 to 20 minutes at least eight hours after you wake up. This can help you relax, regroup, and continue your day with a clear head.
Air: Oxygen is the stuff of life: It sustains us, regulates our heartbeat, and feeds both our blood and our brain. Refresh your oxygen level several times a day to ensure mental clarity. Taking a walk is one way to do this. Another is a simple breathing exercise using the 4-4-4 approach: Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, then breathe out through your mouth for 4 seconds or longer. Do this several times — it’s a great stress reliever and energy booster.
Mind: As motivational expert Earl Nightingale once put it, “You become what you think about.” You can increase your mental energy by reading books that inspire and help improve your effectiveness — and by connecting on a daily basis with people who energize and encourage you.
Exercise: Tons of research underscores the fact that exercise not only boosts our physical strength, but also increases our mental stamina. So make it part of your weekly regimen. One simple approach: Commit to exercising at least 30 minutes a day for two or three days a week. Not only will this boost your overall energy, it will increase your feelings of well-being and self-esteem. In contrast, sitting around all day actually makes you tired. The bottom line: more energy you expend, the more you expand your energy.
As we move through the next few weeks toward the new year, let’s keep track of how we’re doing in each of these five areas. Writing takes physical, emotional, and mental stamina. So let’s stay strong — and write on!