Three Tiny Tweaks to Enhance Your Physical Energy
How’s your energy today? Would you say you’re feeling physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned?
If you’ve read our 3T article from last month, you know that while time is finite, energy can be abundant. And our promise to you was to share our perspectives on enhancing your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy tanks. Since physical energy is foundational to one’s overall energy management, let’s dig in right there!
At a high level, physical energy is the composite of our physical fitness, our nutrition practices and our sleep regimen. As 3T readers, we are all fortunate to have Joan Pagano as a resource via her treasure chest of videos, articles and pictures to help keep our bodies strong. Of course, this is essential, but not exclusive to physical fitness. The other dimensions are what we call “physicality”; in other words, how we physically move through the day. And we don’t know about how you feel, but things are clearly changing as we age.
So today, let’s explore three mindset shifts you can employ to result in moving through your day more effortlessly and comfortably.
Having a Seat.
Deborah found it cute and whimsical when a yoga instructor once referred to her own “cranky body parts” at the start of an online yoga session during Covid. Sadly, a year later, this term began to resonate. Deborah recognized that some of her own aches and pains were new. “I never sat so much in my life! After being a restaurateur, then a workshop facilitator nicknamed “The NYC Street Walker”, this became the first period in my life that I had an office job.”
During on-site sessions by design, both facilitators and participants tend to move around. Movement inspires ideas and alternative perspectives, all while boosting energy. Now that working from home is the norm, including facilitating workshops wherein participants attend from their homes, it’s become common to sit a lot.
“For me, some tasks just don’t work while seated,” says Ute. That’s why she makes sure activities are woven into the session that encourage people to move around or that allow for periodic stretches.
Writing and reading are tasks that are optimized when seated. However, when working with an individual or a group, Ute prefers to stand. After all, that’s what she would do when a physical space is shared. “This allows me to express my desired presence and creates the energy necessary to transmit emotional contagion amongst the people in the remote room.”
And since neither too much sitting nor too much standing are palatable, Ute chooses to live in the “and” world. She invested in a height-adjustable desk to accommodate standing as well as seated work. She also has a specialized chair for both sitting and to simply “have her back” when standing. It can even serve as a stool when she’s listening to workshop participants reporting in from their breakout activities. The result is an organic flow that aligns with being in front of a screen all day. It has proven to positively support ‘physicality’ and mitigate the depletion of the physical energy tank, all while effectively adding energy into the remote room.
Whether sitting or standing, posture is essential for maintaining physical energy. Not only can poor posture result in back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders and a potbelly, it can also make you sleepy.
And if those consequences aren’t alarming enough, we are not capable of doing our best thinking when we’re hunched over our computers. This posture constricts the diaphragm from opening fully during respiration, resulting in breathing only through the upper chest. Such shallow breathing can trick the brain into thinking that you’re in danger. This leads to hormonal reactions that inhibit your prefrontal cortex from working its magic.
Feeling motivated to adjust your posture yet? Start by relieving an affliction that Joan Pagano calls Tech Neck. In this video, Joan demonstrates the neck press, which is designed to realign your computer posture.
Another posture faux pas to correct while sitting at the computer comes compliments of multifocal glasses. Ute’s height-adjustable desk allows her to program personal position preferences for both sitting and standing. And while the preset button for “sitting” was good from a desk perspective, with a chair, some fine-tuning is necessary so the height of the chair matches the optimal desk position for posture toward the screen. Ute periodically catches herself subconsciously compensating for the misalignment of the furniture — or her multifocals — by tilting her head or lifting her chin to the best position for reading the screen. When compensating for too long, tensions in the neck and shoulders were her indicators that something wasn’t right.
Mind Your Movement.
Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? Well, that was a myth. Actually, it’s stillness that is bad for you. Listen to Deborah’s interview with Roland Denzel for more insight about how lack of physical movement is detrimental to your health.
A great first step to inject movement into your day is to stand up and leave your desk every 45 to 60 minutes. Grab a glass of water, use the washroom, or stare out the window at the horizon for 20 seconds to reset your vision. If you’re involved in a longer meeting, changing your physical position is the second best option.
The goal is to “Take 10” every hour to enhance your ability to focus during the other 50 minutes. And those 10-minute breaks will serve to mitigate the stress that builds up from a brain function perspective. This is important to consider when we think about our emotional energy tank— the one that is often running on empty without our noticing. Look for our next article to cover exactly that.