Having a child was a real shock to my system. Not only was I suddenly sleep deprived, but also breastfeeding and looking after an infant 24 hours a day. In the first week, I remember actually asking whether it was possible to die from exhaustion. It is easy to start feeling energy depleted. The broken nights are still draining – even a year on, but I feel I am finally winning the battle with energy and I attribute the improvement to the following habits I have developed.
1. Starting the day with half a lemon squeezed into a mug of warm water
I have been drinking warm lemon water first thing each morning for years (on and off). I started for detoxification purposes, however it has become a pleasant and addictive ritual. This simple act really improves my feeling of wellbeing and helps me to be more conscious of my food choices thereafter. I have also become a connoisseur of the subtle flavours in lemons!
I found it really difficult to make time to eat breakfast while nursing and caring for a newborn. Smoothies are quick to make – just throw everything into the blender. All you need is a supply of fruit and vegetables available – maybe a partner, parent or friend could bring these around to your house to help.
I recommend making a green smoothie to help boost your energy levels.
1 apple or 3 tablespoons of apple pureeMy favourite green smoothie at the moment is:
1/2 frozen banana
1/4 cup frozen berries (blueberries are my favourite)
2 cups of loosely packed baby spinach or kale
Half a cup of coconut water or water
Throw everything in the blender until smooth and drink straight away
This will help nourish your body until you have time to eat something more substantial.
It is hard – and I am the first to admit that instead of doing this, I do the dishes, cook, clean the house, do the washing, pay bills, check my email etc. But, if you can manage to sleep even for 15– 30 mins – you will feel better for it.
Being dehydrated alone can make you feel low in energy. Make sure you drink plenty of water – at least 2 litres a day. Personally, I was constantly thirsty for the first few months of breastfeeding – so I naturally drank enough water over this time.
5. Eating a nourishing meal at least twice a day.
This might be a vegetable soup or a dahl – high in nutrients and packed full of nourishing foods. If you are too tired to cook, see if your partner, friend or a parent is willing to cook a nutrient rich meal for you. You need plenty of vitamins and minerals in your food – and if you are a new mum, this is especially pertinent to help you recover from birth and give you enough energy to care for your baby.
When it comes to snacks – easy foods that require no preparation are also a good option, and will keep you energised until you have time to make something. These include nuts, pieces of fruit (apple, pear, banana, berries, dates, apricots etc) or vegetables dipped in avocado, hommus or nut butter (e.g. whole carrots, celery sticks). These will provide you with nutrients without clogging up your system with preservative / additive / fat / sugar laden fast or processed foods which don’t nourish your body. If you want to feel your best and have a glowing complexion and trim figure – you would ideally cut out all processed food (including refined sugar) and only eat wholefoods which nourish your body. It does seem daunting and unachievable in this modern world with so much convenient food available – I am currently just beginning this journey, taking it one step at a time. I find that all the real, nutrient rich food tends to push the unhealthy food out of my diet. There is no room for it anymore.
6. Absorbing some sunlight
If you are lucky enough to have sunlight (it was pouring with rain here when I typed this), go outside and soak up some warmth and rays. Just a few minutes in the sun, breathing in some outside air should help to make you more energised.
Try to be aware of shallow or fast breathing. It only takes a minute to stop what you are doing and take 5 slow deep breaths. Take long, slow breaths to ensure your system is receiving enough oxygen and disposing of carbon dioxide. This is one of the means your body uses to eliminate toxins, so by breathing well, you will help your body to gain more energy through the removal of unwanted particles. This is also a great exercise for relaxation or to reduce anxiety.