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3 Things that Give Me More Energy Than They Take

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It may sound bizarre, but there are various things that I can do that leave me with noticeably more energy than I had before I did them. My scientific mind wants to find an explanation, and the best I can come up with is the idea that these activities help me release any resistance and tension in my body that are using my energy wastefully.

However, since ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) struck, science has offered me very few helpful solutions, and I’ve found the ancient Eastern paradigms of the body being made up of various energy centers and channels have offered me far more practical help. My experience has shown me over and over again that releasing blockages and restoring balance to energy channels contributes to improved ME/CFS symptoms and can leave me feeling as though I have more energy available to me.

There are three things that have shown to consistently and powerfully improve my energy — things that I find much easier to understand when I think of us as energetic beings not just physical ones.

ME/CFS Symptoms and Restoring Your Energy

1. Mindful Gentle Movement Connecting with The Breath

Learning tai chi was a turning point for my health the first time I had ME/CFS. At the time, I was practically house bound. My tai chi class was about the only thing that I did outside of the house; I could barely drive the mile to and from the class. But my teacher was so incredibly understanding and adaptive to my needs, it was a lifeline. By the time I’d learned the first 10 movements of the form, I was able to perceive how much better my energy was after practicing. When energy is so low, even small improvements are really obvious! I’d never been particularly self-disciplined before that, but the results were so astonishing that I have continued practicing every day for 22 years! This gentle movement is thought to help release blockages in energy channels (meridians) and help energy flow more in balance, thus restoring health. The breathing exercises are designed to top up energy reserves.

In the yogic traditions, the idea of a universal life force or vital energy (prana) is linked to the breath. Breathing exercise are conceived of as bringing more of this vital energy into the body. When I’m practicing my gentle yoga stretches, without exertion, while concentrating on my breath, I can get a real felt sense of how my energy flows more freely. And no matter how tired I’m feeling when I start, it always feel as though I have more energy afterwards.

2. Donna Eden’s Energy Exercises

This is something relatively new to me but after being recommended various times in the space of a couple of weeks, I thought I’d check Donna Eden out. The routine I tried isn’t focused on ME/CFS recovery, specifically, more at general health, but it was only 11 minutes to watch the video. I decided to experiment with it, and see what happened. Again, I was really struck by how much lighter I felt immediately after practicing. The effect wouldn’t last long at first, but I’ve persisted, and after a couple of months I’ve noticed that my general energy level has significantly improved. There may be other things that have contributed to this improvement as well, but now that I know these exercises, they only take five minutes, I do them at my lowest energy time of the day and feel a wonderful boost!

3. Connecting with Nature and Gardening

Spending time connecting with nature always leaves me feeling as though I have more energy than before. It’s not just about having my spirits lifted. I can physically feel heavy and drained in my body, then after 10 minutes or more of silently contemplating the natural world, my body can feel lighter and energized! It works best when I’m alone and pay all my attention to appreciating being in the natural environment. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in the garden, in a park, or in the mountains, as long as I am paying attention to something that is living and breathing.

The other day I was feeling tired, but I wanted to water something I’d newly planted on the veg patch. It was an easy five-minute job so I decided I’d go and do it anyway and would water everything else the next day. 30 minutes later I’d weeded six rows of plants in a relaxed effortless manner while watering half of the veg patch (setting the hose at the neck of irrigation channels), and I felt physically lighter and energized.

I’ve no idea how science could explain this so I have to believe that our bodies interact with energy in ways that go beyond traditional western belief systems. I do know from experience that it results from being peacefully focused in the present moment on something living, either with an attitude of appreciation or nurturing.

What things do you find can boost your energy even though it must use it at the same time? How could you include them in your daily routine?

This article was first published on ProHealth.com on June 28, 2017 and was updated on September 07, 2020.

Julie Holliday is a holistic life coach and writer committed to helping people take back control from energy-limiting chronic illness to live a more relaxed, balanced, and fulfilling life. Julie loves spending time in nature, growing her own vegetables and spends as much of her day as possible in a comfortable pair of yoga pants. Writing as the ME/CFS Self-Help Guru, Julie shares tips on her weekly blog. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “3 Things that Give Me More Energy Than They Take”

  1. arainbowatnight says:

    I need to say to anyone thinking about tai chi that no matter how gently *I* did it, it made me relapse for weeks or months every time.

    Done properly, tai chi uses CONSTANT muscle engagement which is a nightmare for progressive muscle weakness, for people whose primary feature of disease is rapid loss of muscle strength in response to even trivial effort. I only did it for a couple of minutes every OTHER day, and it took me longer than it should have to put it together that it was the tai chi making me worse because the effects were cumulative.

    It felt great immediately, but over the following days and weeks it caused relapse, just like any other “graded exercise” activity will do to people with ME. I attempted it 3 different times over the course of 2 years, each time trying to do it slower, and at even smaller intervals, to no avail. I love tai chi, but it is a form of exercise. If looking to just balance energy I recommend reiki, which uses the same principles of manipulating “chi” but without harming mitochondria.

    I hope anyone with classic myalgic encephalomyelitis will be on extra watch if they attempt it, because the tiny movements use a deceptively exorbitant amount of energy. And from my experience there was no amount so small that could still be done without causing harm, so I know there are others out there whose body will respond the same.

  2. JulieHolliday says:

    I totally agree that any kind of exercise can be dangerous if you don’t have the resources to put into it in the first place. I guess I was lucky that I had just enough to put into it to be able to enjoy the benefits.
    There are also many different kinds of T’ai chi, and each individual teacher has their own approach. My experience was that my teacher understood the importance for me of effortless movement. The type of T’ai chi I did, involved constant movement, but it was constantly flowing between different muscle groups so no one muscle fibre was engaged for more that a couple of seconds at a time. I’ve also tried Qigong which involved repeating movements and found I couldn’t deal with that at all. I was also given permission and instruction to stop at the earliest sign of effort. My whole approach to exercise with ME/CFS is to replace it with the idea of effortless movement instead.

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