This is an excerpt from my new book Writer on the Side: How to Write Your Book Around Your 9 to 5 Job.The book is meant to help anybody who has been struggling to fit their writing despite having a sometimes brain-crippling full-time job. This excerpt discusses how an improvement in natural energy in the morning can bolster your creativity the rest of the day. Check out the links on the right column to purchase it here or at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Natural Energy Option #1: Healthy Breakfast
First, let’s talk about the healthy breakfast. We are a little bit silly sometimes us humans. We tend to go for the quickest and tastiest breakfast possible but we don’t always think about how it will affect our energy later. While waffles and pastries and donuts are really, really good, they will kick our butts a few hours (or less) after we eat them. One of the best natural sources of energy to thwart this problem is fruit. This raw and tasty food is like nature’s pastry. A plate full of berries, apples, bananas and melons in the morning includes vitamins, fiber and micronutrients that all contribute positively to your day.
Supplement that with some nuts, which are high in the protein and the good fats (monounsaturated fats) which are fantastic for energy and for the brain. Add a little bit of juice, the kind that’s not from concentrate and full of added sugar and you’ve got yourself an energy packed little breakfast.
Natural Energy Option #2: Workout
I was a wrestler in high school and among the crazy things we did like wearing headgear and singlets and beating each other up on the mat, we would work out before school at 5:30 a.m. My first class of the day was American History and after exercising I always felt like I was buzzing the entire 45 minutes.
Everything made sense and my brain seemed to be moving at light speed. It was the first class that I truly aced in school and it inspired me to work hard and get into a decent school for undergrad.
Years later, when I found out that working out increases the flow of oxygen to your brain, it made complete sense. All the facts and figures clicked so easily during that class and it was in part a result of my morning exercise. Exercise also increases the amount of endorphins in your body, which are like nature’s happiness hormones. We’ve already discussed how much happiness and optimism can improve your goal setting. Imagine combining a faster, smarter brain with a healthy dose of optimism. That’s what it’s like to get a morning workout in.
You can join a gym, go for a run, or do an at home program like P90X (which is extremely hardcore but it really is a kick in the pants for your physical health). Even just a 20 minute workout with some push-ups, sit-ups and a few jumping jacks can make a world of difference for you energy-wise. Because working out has been so beneficial to my writing, I see my exercise goals as a perfect complement to my writing goals. Exercise improves my energy throughout the day and makes me a smarter and more efficient writer by far.
Natural Energy Option #3: Meditation
“Uh-oh, Bryan, we’re getting into the weird stuff,” you might be thinking. It’s true, a lot of people think meditation and meditative exercise like yoga, tai-chi or qigong are weird. But it’s also true that those people don’t get to experience the many benefits of meditation.
I think that the most important aspect of meditation is that it can improve your focus. In our over-caffeinated, over-stimulated world, additional focus can go a long way. Typically, the bad decisions we make like eating that extra donut or surfing around on the Web too much can be thwarted by stepping back and focusing on what we really want. You always hear stories about someone coming upon an amazing idea during a moment of clarity.
Meditation is like a training manual that can turn those moments into minutes and those minutes into days worth of clarity. Imagine if you could come up with brilliant ideas throughout your day. That is what a life is like on meditation. Meditation also has been shown to improve your levels of happiness through stimulating the hormones that promote happiness in your body. A little meditation in your morning can go a long way.
There are classes available in meditation along with guided audio meditations and many resources online. Finding the right meditation for you is like finding the right pair of shoes. One might fit but not feel so good when you walk around with it for a while. Experiment until you find a meditation routine for you and try to work it into your morning.
Natural Energy Option #4: Rocking Out
This is a simple method for an energy boost in the morning. Make a little playlist of your favorite upbeat songs and get your groove on. The greatest advantage to this method is that within three minutes (the length of the average pop song) you can get yourself out of a morning funk and ready to face your morning writing tasks and your day of work. Keep in mind that some genres (80s synthesizer music) tend to work better than others (sad country music).
To add to the potential silliness of this method, try dancing about and really getting into the music. If you live with people, this might not be as possible, but you can always shut the door to your room and have a few minutes of Dancing with the Stars to yourself.
One thing to keep in mind with music is that you may become used to a particular song to the point that it doesn’t pump you up anymore. Luckily for you, there are plenty of songs in the sea and you can always find another that will leave you feeling wonderful.
Natural Energy Option #5: Location and Inspiration
Another way in which I’m fortunate is that I live just a 15 minute walk away from Lake Michigan, which can be quite a beautiful site during the warmer months. It obviously depends on where you live, but if you can find yourself an awe-inspiring place within walking distance of your house, you may be able to grab a bit of morning peace from it.
Even before the work day officially begins, it’s easy to get caught up in e-mail, projects and meetings that you might have a hard time stepping back and thinking about anything creative. It’s finding this “spot of Zen” that allows you to relax and not think about anything at all for a minute or two that can get you fresh and energized.
Even if you are in an awful, dingy location, there is always a sunrise and if you get up that early every once in a while, you can gain some peace from taking 10 minutes to soak it all in.
You can use one of these ideas, mix and match, or throw your own into the hat. Personally, I’ve done them all but I’ve most often done the raw meal of fruits, nuts and juice and the workout. All of these methods can wake your brain up sans chemicals. You may not feel as high as when you are on the caffeine, but you will still be awake enough to be productive.
Read the rest of the book Writer on the Side by clicking on the link. Thanks for reading!
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