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How to Increase Your Energy Levels – Mentally

October 25, 2012

We have been focusing on energy levels the last few articles. Specifically, the four levels of energy which are:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

Last week, we looked at the emotional elements. Emotions strongly impact our productivity. Positive emotions include enjoyment, love, gratitude, hope, challenge, adventure, and opportunity. Negative emotions are costly in that they take away our focus and ability to concentrate. When we’re filled with negative emotions we can be like a time bomb ready to ‘go off’ at any moment.

This week, we will focus on our mental energy levels. In numerous work places, the message is that we need to work longer to increase our productivity. Many workplaces no longer have formal morning and afternoon tea breaks. We think we’re getting more done when we continue to work through lunch. A workout during the middle of the day is frowned upon. We’re encouraged to keep our heads down and grind away for as long as we can.

The problem is that thinking uses a great deal of our energy. Even if your work is physical, you have to understand that you’re still concentrating. The brain represents 2 percent of the body’s weight, but requires almost 25 percent of its oxygen.

The effects of insufficient mental recovery include increase in mistakes, lower creativity and misjudging risks. Tasks take longer as your thinking is slower. The key to being mentally ‘on task’ is to give the thinking mind intermittent rest.

Consider when you have your best ideas – it’s usually when you’re taking a break or doing something completely different. Many solutions are found when we’re walking, in the middle of the night, when you wake with a great idea or solution. It can be when you are playing a sport or even while showering. Your mind needs a break to come up with useful information and solutions. There has been researched conducted and the outcome was that most of the best ideas for work come when you are away from your desk, actually away from work and your mind is focused on something else. This is when the unconscious mind is still working away and that’s why you suddenly have the bright idea or solution.

When you’re feeling mentally tired, perhaps listening to music for 10 minutes, a short walk around the block, having a drink of water, chatting with a friend or co-worker or meditation will help your mind rest and recover so that it can regain focus. It’s through rest and recovery that our mental endurance works best. This is why quick short breaks are recommended. If you focus on a task for an hour then allow your mind 5 – 10 minutes to rest so that it can be at its best for the next task.

It’s reported that the artist Leonardo da Vinci took regular breaks from his work. Apparently, whilst he was painting The Last Supper, he would spend several hours in the middle of the day lost in daydreams and catnapping. His employer, the Prior Santa Maria delle Grazie requested often that da Vinci work more steadily; however, da Vinci replied, “The greatest geniuses sometimes accomplish more when they work less.” Leonardo was allowing himself mental rest and recovery.

How will this information change what you do? How will this information change how you structure your day? Perhaps it may allow you to feel guilt free when you are away from work exercising, spending time with the ones you love, catching up with friends. It is important to understand that mental rest and recovery are one of the keys to functioning at your best.

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