Fitting Play Into Work
As a medical student, my 12-hour workdays are punctuated with 36-hour shifts every fourth day. After the 36-hour shift, I reserve any time left in the day as unadulterated, guilt-free leisure time. I spend it with good friends, or I read, knit, or paint. This ensures a balance between work and play and enables me to start each new workday refreshed and clearheaded.
When I got my dog, I promised him that, no matter what the weather, we would go walking twice a day―once in the early morning and once in the evening. The joy he gets from these simple romps rubs off on me and keeps my levels of mental and physical energy high. For nine years, I've been keeping my promise to him.
I try to put a spring in my step wherever I go: taking stairs two at a time while doing laundry, biking to work, or cranking up the music and dancing while doing housework.
I make exercise a priority. When I can't go to the gym three times a week, I at least do some floor exercises. And I try to keep growing as a person―seeing friends, learning a new craft, taking a class. You have to do some planning to fit these activities into your life, but it's well worth it.
Mary Lou Glazer
Northport, New York
I have a toddler and a home-based business, and I suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. Practicing yoga for 30 minutes a day is the one and only thing that gives me the energy and stamina to keep up with it all.
Paula Rozelle Bagnall
First I make sure to get enough sleep. Sticking to a regular bedtime has really helped me feel better. Second, I make sure I'm drinking enough water. Finally, I don't waste my energy worrying about things I have no control over. Eliminating that drain has made the biggest difference of all.
Falls Church, Virginia
Nothing drains my energy like having big, unfinished projects hanging over my head. The other night, after putting it off for so long, I tackled my bill paying and filing. The next morning, I woke up feeling more refreshed and energetic than ever.
I am a practicing psychotherapist, a registered nurse in a psychiatric unit, a research assistant, a full-time doctoral student, and a wife and mother, so maintaining my energy and stamina levels is critical. I have three balanced, light meals per day, plus two or three nutritious snacks. I also take breaks for leisure reading and meditation throughout the day and try to sleep at least seven hours a night.
One of the simplest things I do to keep up my energy is to go to bed by 11:00 every night. Since I've started getting at least seven hours of sleep a night, the difference in my energy level―and my appearance―has been amazing. When you're falling asleep at your desk, your body is trying to tell you something.
New York, New York
I'm a mother of four who works full-time at a school, and it takes two things to keep me going: exercise and a good diet for my body and soul. I take a multivitamin every day and power-walk three to four times a week. I've also taken up horseback riding again after many years and volunteer several days a month at the stable.
Taking Time Out
I am a parent of five- and three-year-old boys, and I gave birth to twins last November. I maintain my energy level by taking frequent breaks to care for myself. When the twins are sleeping, I call a friend, read a magazine, check my e-mail, or enjoy the silence with a cup of coffee. Whether the breaks last five minutes or 30, they give me the energy I need to take care of my family.
Sneads Ferry, North Carolina
Every Sunday evening, I have a ritual. I take a bath, listen to music, and write in my journal. I now have four complete journals that go back a couple of years. By writing on Sundays, I can leave the old week behind me and get energized for the next one.
For our family of five, Monday through Friday is fully loaded. So, come Saturday, we don't move. Or we don't move much. We avoid the car and take at least one (if not several) leisurely strolls to the nearest park. We shop at a local open-air market, walk on the beach (no matter what the season), play charades, and have the kids read us jokes from joke books while we're cooking.