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Want More Energy? Work Your Rest Rhythms!

Remember being young, enthusiastic, and rushing about from one thing to the next with endless energy? I don't know about you, but I find maintaining my energy levels gets harder with every passing year and each new responsibility added to my list. And long covid, chronic fatigue, and a host of other health issues and complaints make maintaining good energy even harder.

Getting older is not for the faint hearted!

I like to be busy. I run a busy, thriving acupuncture clinic, a community clinic , and a martial arts dojo where I teach both kids and adults. On top of this I study to keep my knowledge up to date, work out to keep in shape, write in my spare time and (mostly) stay on top of house work and cooking nutritious meals (somehow I still have a social life around all of that!).

woman stressed over work tired

Many of us are juggling full lives and busy schedules, a tricky thing if you find yourself short on energy. It's easy to get buried under an endless to do list and find your energy levels dropping a little more every week. This is hard - the more tired we get the harder it is to find the motivation to self care, we get less done, and we lose enthusiasm for things we're usually really passionate about.

So let's take a look at two ways we can not only preserve the energy we have, but build our energy levels up so that we can do a little more each week instead of a little less.

woman walk sun self care
Time for you is crucial

You Time

If you've seen me in clinic there's a good chance we've talked about this. Carving out (and fiercely defending) a little time for yourself every day is crucial to your energy levels. It doesn't have to be much, just 10-15 minutes will make a difference, but it does need to be consistent.

I prefer to put this time first, at the start of my day, because for me this reinforces that I am putting myself first and topping up my tank so that I can better be there to help and support my friends, family, and patients. This also prevents me from getting to the end of my day and deciding I'm too tired or don't have time.

If we get into a habit of being too tired and not having time for ourselves, this sends our subconscious a very clear message that we're not important. It also leaves us washed out and exhausted.

Make some time for yourself - practice that thing you really enjoy, have a quiet cup of tea, read a book, take a bath, or go for a short walk. If you have kids, try getting up 15 minutes before the kids wake (yes, this will mean heading to bed a little earlier, but it will be worth it for that peace and quiet first thing in the morning!). Make it clear to your flat mates, partner, hubby, kids, wife how important this time is, and let them know you need that time for you so you can be more present with them later.

Give it a go, you'll be surprised what a difference it will make!

woman beach relaxing self care
Resting allows you to do more

Rest Rhythms

We are not machines - we're all human, no matter how hard we try to be superhuman, and we all need rest. We need around 8 hours of sleep a night for our bodies to recover properly and see us well rested for the following day (I've talked about sleep in another blog you can check out here), but a lesser known fact is we need rest during the day to keep our energy levels high and avoid burn out.

Most of us are under the mistaken belief that if we want to get more done, we need to be busier. Spend more time rushing around, working, ticking things off our lists. The trouble is, and I know you've all felt this, that this approach leaves us feeling exhausted at the end of the day, often still with a mountain of work we didn't get finished.

The good news is the answer is easy - if counter intuitive. We actually get more done by doing less. At most, our brains can handle 90 minutes of deep work before it gets tired and, like any other muscle in the body, it needs a break. The leading research now shows we get more done when we stop at the 90 minute mark and take 15-20 minutes of deep rest. This could be a short nap, some gardening, cooking, a walk, some exercise - anything that doesn't involve screens or intense focus.

If you suffer from long covid, chronic fatigue, or any tired-inducing illness, 90 minutes may be too much. 30-45 minutes of deep work may be your limit before you need a break - I suggest you have a play with it and pay attention, see when you start feeling your mind fog over and things start to get hard. Once you get a handle on this, stop working before you hit that point and take a deep rest block.

If we don't schedule our rest rhythms, we try to force our bodies and brains to function at top capacity all day - this leads to our energy slowly dwindling over the course of the day. With no chance to recover, we end the day tired, possibly making mistakes on tasks we usually find easy, and our concentration is shot. Worse, if we push this too far for too long, we wake the next day with less energy and begin a slow, downward spiral.

When we make the effort to schedule these rhythms into our day and stick to them, we catch our energy levels before they bottom out completely. A short rest is then enough to restore them for the next block of deep work, and we have more focus for it. By the end of the work day instead of feeling drained and ready for bed, we feel good and have enough energy left to connect with family and friends, or pursue interests we're passionate about.

I know many of you are rolling your eyes at me and feeling a lot of resistance to this idea - I definitely didn't like it when I heard it. But I gave it a go - and it worked. I was happier, more engaged in my work, and was passionate about things again instead of feeling tired, run down, and over everything.

Try it. If you're not sure how to make it work, get in touch or book in for an appointment and we can go through it together. If you try this and don't find you're feeling better, I promise you can be as smug about it as you like.

Go on, what have you got to lose other than exhaustion and fatigue?


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