How To Have Energy

How to Have the Energy and Motivation to Succeed

If you want to be as successful as possible, then you need to be able to have the drive, determination and focus to get there.

Take a look at any of the world’s most successful people and you will find they have almost superhuman levels of motivation. Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about visualizing his goals from a young age and even breaking into the gym to train on days when it wasn’t open. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson frequently posts on Instagram his alarm going off at 4am in the morning when he gets up to train. Neither of these guys ever seems to have a day when they’re too tired or not enthusiastic. Will Smith says the secret to his success is just being willing to run further and longer than everyone else on the treadmill of life.

If you have the determination and the energy, then you will put in more hours and more work at every stage of the game. And as you do so, you’ll be more enthusiastic doing it and happier doing it. Imagine coming home from a hard day at work and having all the energy you need to pack away your clothes, to wash the dishes, to do a workout and then to work on your side project before playing with the kids and romancing the wife.

Many of us say we don’t have ‘time’ to get into shape or achieve the things we want to achieve but this isn’t really accurate. More likely, it’s actually that you don’t have the energy – and this is why you may find yourself just crashing in front of the TV rather than doing anything productive.

So the question is, how can you change that about yourself? How can you get the drive that produces the energy you need to go after the things you want?

Setting the Right Goals

One thing to do is to learn to set your goals correctly. The mistake that many of us make is to have goals that are too out of our control, too long term and too vague. For instance, saying you want to lose 3 stone in a year makes it hard to know how much you should train or how you should eat. You can take it easy for a week and just make up for it next week… right?

Instead then, make your goals much more immediate and much more within your control. In this case, the goal might be to work out 4 times a week and to eat less than 2,000 calories a day. Those are precise goals that you can try and accomplish every single day – there’s nothing left to chance or the long term.

Visualization

At the same time, it’s also important to make sure you always remember why you are doing those things and that you have a clear vision for what it is you’re trying to achieve. If, for example, you want to be a famous fitness vlogger on YouTube, then you should visualise that whenever you’re trying to convince yourself to workout. Think about what it’s like and really immerse yourself in the emotion of it.

How To Control Stress

How to Control Anxiety During Stressful Moments

Imagine that you have an interview for a big job you want coming up. And imagine that said job interview is with someone very important and who has a reputation for being tough.

In the build up to this event, you’ll probably find yourself feeling very anxious and nervous. This will trigger the release of fight or flight hormones like adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. As such, you’ll start shaking, you’ll start sweating, your pupils will dilate and your muscles will contract.

This stress response is designed to help us if ever we get into a physical confrontation or we need to run away. But when we’re in a situation like an interview or a date, it really doesn’t help.

So the question is, what can you do to overcome this and stay calm even in high pressured situations?

Luckily, there are a few methods that are known to work quite well…

Breathe

The first thing to do is to remember to breathe. And don’t just breathe – breathe deeply. When you do this, you will be able to instantly engage your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the ‘rest and digest’ state that we can go into. This state is actually the exact opposite of fight or flight and it helps us to feel calmer and more relaxed.

The worst thing you can do when you start to panic is to breathe faster and more shallowly, as this just makes you more stressed and can eventually cause you pass out if things get really bad!

Lean Into It

Another tip? Don’t worry about being stressed. Too often, we get stressed and anxious and then try to fight it. Unfortunately, fighting stress is completely counterproductive as the more we fight, the more we raise our fight or flight response even more. Eventually this causes our heartrate to run more quickly, our muscles to contract more and for us to become even more tense.

At this point, you’re now stressed about being stressed!

So instead, the goal should be to help yourself accept the stress and recognize it for what it is. Stress makes you your strongest and most powerful. Instead of trying to fight it, instead just let it happen but give it a positive spin. This might mean thinking of your situation as a challenge, or it might mean thinking of an idol you know who has handled a similar situation well. Rise to the challenge and enjoy your body getting worked up ready to enhance your performance.

If you can do all this well, then you can eventually tap into enhanced performance without the feelings of dread or the crawling stomach that can come from regular stress. If you do this really well, then it can become a ‘flow state’ which is a state of heightened performance characterized by reduced activity in the frontal cortex.

So just concentrate on the task at hand, give it full focus, feel your body become more alert and toned and tell yourself: game on.

How Stress Affects You

Understanding How Stress Affects You and Why it Isn’t Always Bad

Most of us know it’s no good to be stressed. We’ve heard that this is bad for our health and we know it can make us unhappy.

But why exactly is this? What specifically is happening in the body and the brain when we’re stressed? And did you know that sometimes stress can actually be a very good thing?

The Fight or Flight Response

At its most visceral, stress is characterized by the ‘fight or flight’ response. This is how the body reacts to danger and extreme stress: by releasing a combination of different hormones and neurotransmitters, each of which will bring about different physiological changes in the body and brain.

Those neurotransmitters and hormones include: dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol, serotonin, testosterone and glutamate. These are all ‘excitatory’ neurotransmitters that increase our brain activity and make us more alert, more focussed and better able to remember the details of whatever is happening around us.

Our body also goes through several changes at this point: our heartrate increases, our breathing gets faster, our muscles contract, our pupils dilate and generally we become better able to perform physically. This means that we can either run from danger, or fight an opponent and stand a better chance of winning. Blood is directed away from our immune system and digestion and towards our muscles and brain and our blood even thickens so that it will be more likely to clot if we get injured.

Chronic Stress

So stress isn’t a purely bad thing. If you really were in physical danger, then this response could genuinely save your life. But the problems emerge when the fight or flight response doesn’t go away. This is what happens when we’re stressed about debt, taxes, or work. We remain in a constantly excited state and this means we can go a long time with suppressed immune function and digestion. Ultimately, this begins to make it more likely that we will become ill or malnourished!

This is why we generally think of stress as being bad and it’s why using something like mindfulness meditation can be so useful.

When Stress is Good

But stress can also be a good thing. That’s the case when, for example, you need a little bit of motivation to get something done. Low level chronic stress is the same stress that makes us revise for exams, save money for the future and generally take action to try and avoid negative outcomes. In this context, the stress is called ‘eustress’ and is highly desirable.

Finally, stress can also be a good thing if you’re able to harness it for good. If you can see your situation not as being dangerous but as being a fun challenge, then you can enter something known as a ‘flow state’. Here we enjoy heightened focus, stronger muscles and improved reactions – but none of the negatives like negative thoughts.

Stress isn’t one response but is rather a whole spectrum of different states that are moderated by different levels of specific neurotransmitters and hormones.

What Is Mindfulness?

What is Mindfulness? And What it is Not

Mindfulness is a tool that has become exceedingly popular recently. Only a few years ago the general public would not be familiar with the term, whereas today it’s something we hear about all the time in a range of different contexts.

In some ways this is a good thing: mindfulness is a great tool to be aware of and it can be used to greatly improve your concentration, awareness and happiness. But at the same time, it’s also a bad thing: because it has been misappropriated in many instances and many people don’t actually really understand what it means anymore.

With that in mind, let’s take an in-depth look at what mindfulness is and what it isn’t – and how you can start using it to improve your life.

The Basics

Mindfulness is often used to describe a type of meditation. Specifically, ‘mindfulness meditation’ is a type of meditation that involves reflecting on the contents of your own mind and how they might be affecting you. Whereas the point of some forms of meditation – such as transcendental meditation – is to completely ‘empty’ your mind, the point of mindfulness is instead to simply detach yourself from your thoughts and become an observer. This way, you can prevent them from affecting you in the same way and you can also gain a greater understanding of the contents of your own thoughts.

Often this is described as ‘watching the thoughts go past like clouds’. The idea is not to engage with them or let them affect you but simply to observe them and to later reflect on how they might impact on your happiness.

Other Uses

By doing this, mindfulness allows us to take some time out of our stressful day to remove ourselves from our thoughts and thereby get some rest and relaxation.

But it’s not really just about meditation. What mindfulness also means is being constantly aware of your own thoughts as you go throughout your day. Some people will tell you to be ‘mindful’ of your body, or ‘mindful’ of your environment. But really what you should be focussing on is just what you’re mindful of.

Next time you go out for a nice walk with family, or next time you do something else that you should be enjoying, just make a note of whether you’re really focussed on what you’re doing and whether you’re actively engaging in it… or is your mind elsewhere? Are you actually worrying about work? Or stressing about other things?

Mindfulness teaches us to be more aware of our thoughts as that way, we can decide that we’re not going to let them affect us and because that way we can then make the conscious effort to refocus and to decide to be happy.

Mindfulness is not mysticism or linked to religion and it’s not a cure-all therapeutic technique. All this is a tool and better yet, a state of mind. With practice, you can learn to be more in-tune with your own thoughts and that can change everything.

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