Are you a young lawyer struggling to handle the workload of your chosen career? Perhaps you’re an old pro who is no stranger to the workload, but you’re feeling a bit frayed since you're not as young as you used to be. Or maybe you’re neither of those. Maybe you’re just fed up with being tired all the time and happened across this blog post. No matter which one you are, we’ve got your back.
Between juggling clients, presenting in court, drowning in an endless sea of paperwork, and so much more, lawyers do it all. However, you’ve only got so many “drops in your bucket” (a.k.a. energy) for each day. It can be a struggle when you run out. On especially bad days, the tank might be empty all day long. When you think of an “energy hack” your thoughts may turn to a much-needed cup of coffee or an energy drink to solve the problem.
Put down the energy drink that is doing more harm than good! It’s time for a reset. There are positive, healthy changes you can make to your lifestyle that will ultimately leave you feeling better, with more energy to tackle the day. You may be thinking "eat and sleep well," but we're going to dive a little bit deeper. Read up on these five energy-boosting hacks and learn which ones are right for you.
Be mindful of what you put into your body. Your choice of fuel can make or break your body's energy levels. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and opt for foods rich with vitamins. Iron is key--low iron levels can lead to poor stamina and focus. Iron-rich foods include red meat, eggs, and seafood. If meat isn't for you, opt for nuts, legumes, and dark-leafed greens, which contain iron and magnesium.
Put special consideration into your breakfast so you start your day off on the right foot. The most popular breakfast options, which happen to be quick and easy, are carbs: cereals, bagels, toast, donuts, muffins...the delicious list goes on and on. Carbs are known for making you feel full and giving you a quick boost of energy. This is because they are quickly absorbed and digested. They will indeed give you a boost, but this is quickly followed by a steep drop in energy that will leave you feeling tired and hungry sooner than you'd like.
Instead, take a couple minutes out of your day to fry up some eggs, or slice up some fresh fruit to mix with a cup of yogurt. A breakfast wrap stuffed with meat and veggies is another great option. Protein will keep you feeling fuller for an extended period, while also giving you more energy to make it to lunch.
Sugar is your worst enemy. Much like carbs, it will give you a short energy high, before leaving you worse off than before. This is where the term "sugar crash" comes from. Avoid over-processed foods that are usually packed with sugar and have a long list of ingredients on the label. Don't even think about touching energy drinks, which can be dangerous to your heart and health.
You may be wondering, "What about caffeine?" A great majority of us are dependent on that first cup of coffee in the morning...and that's fine. However, you should avoid caffeine in the late hours of the day, or it may interfere with your sleep cycle, which segues perfectly into our next energy hack.
Live by your circadian rhythm. Our circadian rhythm is the internal, 24-hour clock that regulates our sleep cycle. When darkness falls, our brains produce melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone that makes us feel tired. Looking at our phone screens late into the night can hinder the production of this important hormone. Screens emanate blue, natural light that tells our body to wake up. Luckily, you can turn on blue light filters at night to ease the effect.
On the other side of the coin, you can use this to your advantage when trying to wake up. Step outside and get a face full of natural sunlight, which is a proven energy-booster. Take a walk around the block if you've got the time. The Vitamin D is beneficial to your health and will even put you in a better mood. Just as darkness signals to our body that it's time to rest, sunlight tells us it's time to wake up.
Nap lovers are in luck: a quick nap will not affect your circadian rhythm! Be sure not to overdo it, though. Don't nap for more than a half hour or else it may leave you feeling bleary. Don't nap too late in the day, either, or you may find it hard to sleep at night. Keep naps short and before 2:00 p.m.
Don't be tempted to burn the midnight oil no matter how much work you have on your plate. Try to get to bed between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. and aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep. The perfect amount of sleep varies between individuals, but no one should be sleeping less than 7 hours a night.
Get active. You may think a workout will burn what little energy you have left, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Cardio and weightlifting will not only improve your circulation, but it will also signal your body to create more energy to compensate for the energy lost during exercise. If you don't have time to hit the gym, try to get outside for a short walk during lunch. If that's not in the cards either, try these do-it-at-your desk exercises.
Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, while objects at rest remain there. Even if your energy is at zero, you may start to perk up once you get going. You may even experience that "runner's high," which you can funnel into the rest of your day.
Appeal to your senses. Sight, sound, and even smell can stimulate energy when you need it! Use color psychology to your advantage and integrate energy-boosting hues into your office or workspace. Warm, cheerful colors such as orange and yellow are great options, but everything in moderation. Shaking things up once in a while can eliminate the day-to-day monotony and keep you feeling fresh and energized.
What kind of music do you like? Music has a special way of affecting our mood, perhaps more than anything else. The right soundtrack can hype you up and keep you going so don't ever shy away from rocking out to your favorite tunes.
Our sense of smell might be underrated compared to the other senses, but it can be just as powerful. It can lift your mood, increase your alertness, and even evoke memories. Steer clear of calming scents such as lavender and see how you fare with rosemary, eucalyptus, or citrus. The scent and taste of peppermint is also a refreshing option.
Know Yourself. You know yourself better than anyone. Think about what leaves you feeling energized and immerse yourself in it. We all have those coworkers who can be a drain on our energy, but then there are the ones who can boost our mood with a quick conversation. You know who they are. Pay them a visit the next time you need a pick-me-up and maybe you can help each other out.
It must be said that not every hack on this list might work for you. Maybe you don't do well with naps, or workouts leave you feeling more ragged than before. That doesn't mean something is wrong with you. We're all different, so find what works best for you!
And if you are a tired lawyer, be sure to join us for Bridge the Gap 2023 to score some stress-free ethics credits! It's free for new attorneys and an excellent refresher for seasoned lawyers. Hope to see you there and keep that energy up!