How I Maintain My Energy throughout the Day as a Highly Sensitive Entrepreneur
I can’t have coffee.
Even if I have just one cup in the morning – it still makes me anxious, hangry, and sleepless.
In a country where half the population drinks 3.2 cups per day on average (putting Swedes in second place with the highest coffee consumption in the world, right after the 3.5 cups that Finns consume daily), I am the odd one out.
I wish I could have an almond latte or two and feel fine.
Alas, I had to find other solutions to maintain my energy throughout the day (especially in the winter, when it gets light by 9 am and dark again by 3pm).
This whole “keeping-my-energy-stable” has been a life-long quest, especially since I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's at age 25.
On top of that, I’m highly sensitive, so I easily get drained and overwhelmed.
Two words: Rituals and discipline. Because discipline in = pleasure out.
Here’s how that translates into my (ideal) day:
I wake up without an alarm by 5 am.
I get up immediately, heading to the bathroom for my Ayurvedic morning routine, which involves splashing my face with warm water six times and scraping my tongue.
Then I put on the kettle. While I wait for the water to boil, I roll out my black Manduka mat and place my white meditation pillow on top.
As I settle onto the buckwheat-filled cushion, green tea warming my hands, I connect with Spirit, saying a prayer from A Course In Miracles:
Where would you have me go today, what would you have me do, what would you have me say, and to whom?
After 20 minutes of praying/meditating/chanting, I rise feeling centered, calm, and connected.
Next up is my all-time favorite activity: reading. I’m a voracious reader – I aim for at least one book per week. In the mornings, I nourish myself with spiritual self-help books. My current favorites include The Way of Grace by Miranda MacPherson and Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping.
Now that I’m awake, I let my body move.
Depending on my mood (and phases of my moon), I do 30 minutes of Yoga, Pilates, or strength training with the Nike Training Club app. (I’m very competitive – I have ticked off almost all the achievements. I’m currently working on a one-year streak.)
When I’m done with my morning routine, I get dressed and sit down to write by 8 am.
I like to start with a few pages of long-hand writing. It helps me gain momentum. Plus, it’s fun. If I don’t know what to write that day, I say a prayer, write a few lines of brain dumb, and something always comes. (Like the idea for this blog post.)
Jack London said, “Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”
It’s true. Sitting down to do the work is what brings the ideas.
Anyway, back to keeping our energy high... there's food.
I used to be this big breakfast opponent, thinking a juice or some fruit would be enough because my body was “detoxing” until noon. Now I don’t believe in that anymore. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Intermittent fasting, but not in the mornings. Skipping breakfast doesn’t work for me.)
Especially if you have an autoimmune disease (like moi), eating fat and animal protein within two hours of waking is crucial for stabilizing blood sugar and keeping energy levels even throughout the day.
Now I eat a hearty breakfast between 7 and 9 am, sometimes at my desk. If I’m hungry before that, I’ll have a warm spiced nutmylk to balance blood sugar.
I stay off email and my phone as much as possible (it stays on airplane mode until after lunch).
The golden rule here: output first, input second.
Avoiding distractions like email, social media, or reading on the internet in the mornings is crucial for staying focused. It’s so easy to think, “Oh well, I have all this energy now, let me just read this one article” only to find that I went down the rabbit hole for two hours.
Having solid boundaries around rituals, nourishment, and rest helps me stay disciplined. (Remember, discipline in, pleasure out.)
Another important thing I had to learn the hard way is to take breaks. I used to get so absorbed in the writing process that I’d stop feeling my body, powering through for hours until I got up from my desk exhausted and dizzy.
Now I use Pomofocus to remind me to take frequent breaks. I set my intervals to 50 minutes, followed by a 10-minute break. I get up, stretch out, and breathe in some fresh air on the balcony. I make more tea or drink warm water (never cold, it upsets my sensitive stomach). I repeat this process four times… until noon, when it’s time for a good long break.
This delicious break is filled with a spacious walk outside, a filling lunch (ideally, we take in the bulk of our calories between 1 and 2 pm, when digestion is at a peak-high), and savoring sacred poetry (Rumi or Hafiz). This helps me recharge and free up space in my mind.
In the early afternoon, I (reluctantly) get back to my workspace again. This time, it’s to accomplish things that don’t take as much brainpower, like catching up on email (only once a day, at 2 pm), editing, or doing some admin/creative tasks. I also like to study my craft for at least an hour a day, learning more about marketing, branding, and copywriting.
As mentioned above, I stick to time-restricted eating, so I try to not eat past 3 pm. I found that my body doesn’t like dinner. Eating late at night makes me groggy, I don’t sleep well, and I’m exhausted the next morning.
The earlier I quit eating, the easier it is for me to wake up refreshed by 5 am. (When I was at a 10-day Vipassana meditation retreat, the last meal was served at 11 am! Monks know that fasting makes them sleep and meditate better.)
I finish the day by 6 pm with simple tasks around the house, like 10 minutes of cleaning and tidying up (I’m super tidy). Ideally, there's more embodiment like dancing, yoga, or non-linear movement as taught by Michaela Böhm. It's all super helpful to wind down and get out of my head.
Planning the day ahead and solving problems in my journal at night helps me feel more rested, calm, and well-prepared for the next day. When I don’t have a plan on what to do, I procrastinate. Failing to plan is like planning to fail.
Around 7 pm, I do my Ayurvedic evening routine. This involves dry-brushing my skin, taking a bath or shower, and moisturizing. Sometimes I even do an oil massage.
When you don’t eat dinner, you get a lot of free time. I use this for reading stories in bed (I love reading in bed!), calling my mom or a friend, or watching a movie. (I rarely watch movies though. I find novels more interesting. The latest novel I couldn't put down? Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart.)
I know that’s a lot of reading, but as Stephen King says, a writer should read as many hours in any given day as she spends writing. So if you write for 3-4 hours per day, you should read for 3-4 hours. That’s the luxury of living alone…
Finally, I turn the lights out by 9 pm. This way, I get enough quality sleep to be able to wake up at 5 am the next day and survive without coffee… unless I’m hooked onto a story, then I can keep awake until past midnight… not ideal, but it happens. :)
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