You hit 40 and there’s that slight slowing down in everything that you do. If you’re lucky, it’s so slight that you don’t even notice it. Then you hit 50 and you know you’re walking just a little bit slower, you take a few seconds more than you used to when you answer questions and it takes longer to put a meal together. That’s just the passage of time. While you can’t really reverse the process of aging, what you can do is to increase your energy levels. Here are a few practical tips on how to keep your energy flowing even as the years creep up on you.
Straighten those shoulders
One of the main reasons for lower energy levels is those slouchy shoulders. Sit on a straight-backed chair, straighten your spine and push those shoulders back. When you are walking, too, tell yourself those shoulders need to go up and back. Suddenly, you’ll find your lungs expanding and a whole lot more air entering them. Ergo – more energy!
Stop holding your tummy in
If you have a large paunch, you need to tackle it with a combination of diet and exercise to get rid of the flab. Holding your stomach in is not the answer and can do more harm than good. When your stomach is sucked in, your diaphragm gets rigid and your lungs cannot expand to their full capacity downwards. Remember, pulling in of the tummy means less air and oxygen, therefore lower energy levels so keep those stomach muscles relaxed.
In some cases, the stomach is taut not because the person pulls it in but because of stress. The easiest way to ease up on the stress is to consciously relax the stomach. It’s amazing how you start feeling better almost immediately.
As you grow older, you lose the spring from your step. Well, just put it back. Instead of going ‘thump, thump’, as you walk, follow the heel-toe drill. Let your heel land on the ground first then quickly and lightly transfer the weight onto your toes. This should be done in a fluid, bouncy motion. So you need to walk tall and straight and you need to walk light as well. You’ll find yourself walking faster and being able to walk a lot more.
Don’t overstuff yourself – stop eating before you get full is the rule you should live by. Eat food that is good and nutritious – stick with fresh food and you should be fine. When you overeat and you eat food that’s rich and oily, you pay the price as you grow older. Your tummies function great when you are young even though you use them like garbage cans but with age, the tummy starts making its displeasure felt. Light meals just make you feel a lot more energetic. Otherwise a lot of your body’s energy is directed towards digesting the food leaving very little left for other activities.
Also remember to cut down on white flour foods and white sugar. Maybe now is a good time to look at alternative sweeteners – if you must have them – like honey or unrefined sugar.
Easier said than done and you wonder why people keep saying that as though you can switch on what you want and switch off what you don’t. No – it’s not easy – not by a long shot. One of the best ways to do it is to try and fill your day with lots to do so there’s no time for those negative thoughts which wear you down and make you feel drained out. Here are a few tips:
· Take up a hobby you like – gardening, cooking, photography – something to keep your mind and hours in the days occupied.
· Join a group – people who like what you like. It could be something as simple as a group of friends who meet in the park every evening.
· Try and smile more often, even when you are alone. It’s hard to think of depressing things when you’re smiling. And you’ll find the world smiling back at you.
· Find friends you can laugh with and take in a crazy movie or play or pick up a funny DVD, invite a few friends over and have a great laugh over a couple of beers.
· Sing out loud – when you work around the house, in the shower, in the garden. Your lungs open out and the energy flows.
· Dance. Put on some music which you like when you’re alone and dance those blues away. It’s incredible how it just perks up you. Don’t go doing any fancy steps though, unless you want to end up with a plaster cast.
· Do something totally crazy – like learning to scuba dive, taking off on a cruise all by yourself, learning an obscure language, joining a salsa class. It just makes you feel new and energized.
Last and by far the most important, you need to practice how to breathe right. Sometimes, this is all it takes to make you feel young and full of zest again. Shoulders back, tummy relaxed, let each breath go right in. Breathe in to 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts then pause for 2 counts. Don’t let it be a strain. Just open up your lungs and breathe in as far as it feels comfortable. When your system is well-oxygenated, you’ll feel so good. You don’t need to go pay some guru top dollar to make you feel good – you can do it sitting all by yourself in your own home.
You can advance to a bit of meditation too. Sit in a quiet place and breathe to these counts for 5 minutes. As you breathe, concentrate on your breath going in and out of your nostrils. When your attention is on your breath, the chatter in your brain stops. It’s that easy and that simple. With a bit of practice, you’ll be meditating like a pro in no time.
That’s all there is to it. There’s absolutely no way you should let age get the better of you. You can be alive and energetic as the years go by if you only put a few of these easy tips into practice.