Julie Dennis is a Menopause Coach and Trainer who has been there too. In this article she draws on her background in nutritional and personal training to explain how to boost your energy levels with simple lifestyle changes – and how to cope when a menopause energy crash hits.
Are you tired all the time? Do you wake exhausted, stumble through the day and fall home too tired to properly engage with your partner or kids? Or perhaps you start the day strong but by mid afternoon you’re slumped over your desk craving coffee and muffins.
When your hormones are out of whack your energy levels can take a nosedive. The key is to eat smart and exercise in the right way – get the formula right and you’ll have more energy to fly through the work day and make the most of all the good stuff outside of it!
Low energy levels have a significant impact in the workplace. It’s harder to focus, decision making is tough, recall of company guidelines is slower, routine tasks take longer and motivation nosedives. Work can very quickly become very hard work!
Where to start – tracking what’s happening
Track your low energy periods and look at what you were doing in the lead-up to that period. Had you eaten something sugary that spiked your energy levels and then left you feeling lethargic and a little bit grumpy? Maybe your tracking will reveal that you’re not actually eating as regularly as you thought.
When you’re pressed for time on your commute or regularly work through your lunch break grab and go meal choices can quickly become an energy draining habit. A latte and a muffin for breakfast might put a spring in your step first thing but it will be followed by a mid morning energy bomb alongside a craving for more caffeine and sugar to get you through ‘til lunch.
Here are my top six tips on boosting your energy levels. As well as practical ideas to keep your energy balance and deal with dips during the working day, it’s important to consider diet and exercise too. By supporting and nourishing your body with food and exercise, you’ll have more energy to work at your full potential.
1. Support your liver
Start each day with hot water and half a freshly squeezed lemon to support your liver and boost your body’s detox process. Drink water throughout the day. Keep a glass topped up on your desk or if you’re travelling between work sites keep a bottle in your car, and aim for at least 2 litres of water a day. The thirst and hunger sensations are triggered together and if you’re slightly dehydrated you can mistake thirst for hunger and grab an unnecessary unhealthy snack when actually what your body really needs is some water to wake you up.
2. Eat well!
Don’t be tempted to skip breakfast! Eating breakfast helps stabilise your blood sugar levels, which helps regulate your energy levels and stops you getting hungry mid-morning. A protein-rich breakfast with good fat like scrambled egg and avocado will keep you feeling fuller and more energised for longer. Top up on your essential fats too. There’s a reason they’re called essential – you absolutely need them and they’re crucial for hormone balance.
We’ve been taught for years by the diet industry that ‘fat is bad’. But the reality is that the right type of fat won’t make you fat any more than eating blueberries will make you blue! – find more on menopause and nutrition by Nutritional Therapist Rosie Letts.
Just as important as the right type of food is the planning. With planning, it’s easy for you to eat the right food. You wouldn’t dream of setting up a business meeting without being clear on the timing, agenda and required output, so don’t go food shopping without a list or any clear idea of what you’re going to eat this week!
3. Learn to stop
When your energy levels are at rock bottom listen to your body and stop. Stop staring at your screen and look out the window. Step out of your noisy work environment and spend ten minutes in your workplace Quiet or Wellbeing Room. If you don’t have one seek out an empty meeting room. If working from home is an option take a power nap when you get really tired. Twenty minutes is enough to improve your alertness and reduce the risk of mistakes.
4. Work to your strengths
If you are most alert early in the morning prioritise your trickiest tasks for as soon as you arrive at work. If 3pm tends to be when your energy levels crash allocate that time to do the more routine stuff. Have an email purge, clean up your desktop screen or organise your filing. If you often have a surge of energy towards the end of your working day use it to plan for tomorrow. That way you don’t have to waste valuable time or mental energy first thing planning your day.
5. Work smart
What’s your organisation’s approach to smart working? Check out your company flexible, mobile and agile working policies and consider how you can make best use of them to manage your energy levels and continue to excel in your career. Agile working practices mean fewer distractions, improved concentration, reduced stress, more autonomy and a better work life balance.
6. Exercise for energy – yes, really!
Exercise has an enormous impact on your energy levels, mental well-being and productivity. It’s also a proven stress reliever. So, incorporating an exercise schedule into your working week is crucial to controlling your menopause symptoms.
Though it may feel counter-intuitive to use lots of energy exercising to feel more energetic, getting active does actually help. Jane Dowling has you covered in the article Exercise for Menopause – but in a nutshell, start gently and find ways to fit movement into your working day – no excuses!
Here are some ideas to help:
HIIT sessions at the weekend when you can get active at your most naturally energetic time.
30 minutes of walking every day – walking to and from the station and getting out in the fresh air at lunchtime can be a real mood and energy booster.
Restorative yoga classes – or videos – in the evening to unwind and cope with stress on tough days.
Weight training with a qualified instructor to strengthen your joints and tone your body.
Exercise is personal, so get educated, get moving and find a workout routine that works for you.
7. Work on your menopause mindset
Controlling your flushes, moods and energy levels isn’t just about what you eat and drink, or the way in which you exercise. You’ve got to address your menopause mindset too. It doesn’t matter how sensible the advice I give you is – if you’re heads not in the right space you’re not going to follow it anyway.
So don’t read this article with a vague notion that you’ll implement some changes next week or next month. ACT now: Accept, Commit and Take Action today.
ACCEPT what’s going on. Don’t fight it or constantly complain about how unfair it is and how awful it is to be a woman.
COMMIT to investing time, effort and energy in yourself. You deserve it. Commit to focusing on you for a minimum of three weeks, be open to change and be ready to think differently, eat differently and exercise differently.
And then TAKE ACTION. Be excited and act on the choices that will allow you to take back control of your body, your mind and your career.
About Julie Denis
Julie Dennis is a Menopause Coach and Trainer who works with organisations across the UK to introduce menopause as an inclusive topic, and improve the experience of women working through menopause. Personally speaking, she has experienced menopause managed with and without HRT, so can really empathise with women’s experiences, and provide practical advice that’s tried and tested.