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Vitality – the fuel for life

Last time we explored the importance of life purpose and meaning in Bold Age. Once you’ve found that direction for retirement which offers you a deep sense of personal fulfilment, how do you ensure you maintain vitality in Bold Age so you can enjoy it as much as possible?

What do I mean by vitality? This story is a good place to start:

Two young fish are swimming along and they meet an older fish swimming in the opposite direction who nods nods at them and says: ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ The two young fish swim on for a bit. Eventually one of them looks over at the other and says, ‘What the hell is water?’

This is an example of when something is always present in your life, you don’t notice it. It’s the same for energy. Much like the water in David Foster Wallace’s parable, energy is something you take for granted — until you don’t have it.

I see vitality as our life energy.

What’s more, when I spent time with my two-and-a-half-year-old nephew at the weekend I thought, ‘You don’t have to teach 2-year-olds ways to have more energy; that’s the way they come out of the box’. So really, it’s not that we don’t have energy as adults; it’s that we’ve created conditions — often by many years of bad lifestyle choices — that make it almost impossible for energy to show up.

This is why I think vitality is a crucial focus point for clients planning for a rewarding Bold Age; there are potentially years of bad choices to clear up as well as new choices to make to ensure our energy fuels our goals.

Now, to be clear, I am not a qualified expert in health and energy but I can share what I have seen make a difference to both clients’ and my own vitality! And, most of you will be experiencing some or all of this already. NB. This list represents vitality boosters and is not exhaustive!

Get outdoors, and be outdoors

Especially if, like many, you are in a workplace that is a controlled, confined, and artificial environment. Florescent lighting, air conditioning, cramped cubicles and dull colours can make for a dreary and heavy office. These conditions not only affect your mood, but they can severely deplete your energy reserves. Tell me you haven’t had one of those headaches after a meeting about a meeting.

Conversely, don’t you just love that satisfied feeling you have after a blowy afternoon walk on the beach or a crisp morning jog in the forest? This is because the outdoors makes a whole range of energy stimulants freely and naturally available to us: –

  • Vitamin D – we make 90% of our vitamin D hormone from sunlight exposure, which ultimately keeps our bones healthy. Given the unreliability of the sunshine I’d say (safely) cram your ray time in when you can!
  • Nature – taking it in using all of your senses really does invigorate you. For example, research says that literally stopping to smell the roses promotes relaxation. Whilst other flowers like lavender and jasmine can lower anxiety and up your mood, and the scent of pine trees decreases stress. When was the last time you stopped for long enough to soak up every last drop of your surroundings?
  • Fresh clean air – a frightening statistic from the Environmental Protection Agency in the USA states that air inside homes can be 2-5 times more polluted than the air found outside due to things like dust mite, cleaning products and furniture glues. Whether this is true or not, research shows that spending time in fresh air increases energy in 90% of people, so ditch the caffeine fix and go out for a natural boost during your afternoon lull.

Be grateful, consciously

A few weeks ago, I was asked to list one hundred things I am grateful for. I had listed all my loved ones, some stuff about work and fitness, then I started to dry up – I was up to 12. I discussed it with a friend who said, ‘what about your eyes, are you not grateful for those? Imagine what you couldn’t do without them. And your legs? And your lungs?’ She had prodded me enough!

It made me stop and think. There are so many things I take for granted that could be wiped out in a flash, so now I am consciously noting all the small things I am grateful for every day and it is amazing what impact that has on my overall positive energy and happiness. It helps with perspective on a tough day too.

Go on, have a go, and you don’t even have to stop at a hundred!

Breathe, all the time

Bizarre advice I know but notice your breathing the next time you feel like you are running on empty. It is highly likely it will be slow and shallow. This is due to the fact that you consume less oxygen as your mind and body become tired and dull.

Brilliantly, just as the state of your mind and body can influence your breathing, your breathing can also influence the state of your body and mind. Therefore, if slow and shallow breathing is a byproduct of low mind-body energy, rapid and deep breathing can swing your energy gauge in the opposite direction.

When you breathe deeply, you use your lungs to their full capacity, taking in approximately 5,000ml of air with every inhalation. By comparison, shallow breathing draws in only 500ml.

The beauty of this is it’s completely in our control at any given time! So stop and check; are you breathing right from your belly?! Spend a few minutes taking in your full 5,000ml capacity and notice the energy practically buzzing round your body.

Move your body, regularly

I can definitely speak first hand on this. In my twenties I didn’t exercise. Not at all. Zip. I rocketed up to a size 18 and was painfully unfit. I was also painfully unhappy. For the last ten years I have exercised regularly and at nearly 40 I am the fittest I have ever been in my life.

Moving more (which is essentially what exercise is) has increased my vitality in numerous ways: –

  • Increased my stamina and strength – sounds obvious but what a difference that has made to all areas of my life. I am more awake!
  • Given me exuberance, confidence and freedom – to try new things for example. A few small physical achievements can open your eyes to new opportunities that could otherwise have laid dormant.
  • Increased my mental strength – for example when I have set a target for a run, the mind picks up where the legs have seemingly left off! This is an immediate impact on my mental strength; in addition and even more surprisingly though this article shares how physical activity positively impacts our cognitive function many years after we have actually exerted ourselves. Read it now before it’s too late!

Like I have said before, it is never too early to prepare for Bold Age! So get clear now on what lifts your energy levels, gives you gusto, sets off your spark and fuels the fire in your belly. This will give you years of good, vitality inducing choices under your belt so when Bold Age arrives you are ready to live each day like it’s your first.