Tips for staying genki at work. Keep your energy up! by blic sejo via Dollarphotoclub

3 Tips to Boost Your Energy for Life and Work.

During my five-year stint in Japan, one of my favorite (and most used) Japanese words was genki.  Part of the reason for this is that, in Japan, o genki desu ka is used as a common greeting akin to “How are you?” The accepted response, genki desu is the equivalent of “I am fine.”

But the reason that this word was co-opted into everyday vernacular by myself and so many other of my English-speaking friends is because genki is translated more literally as “healthy, happy, energetic, lively and enthusiastic”. This means that in order to legitimately respond “Genki desu,” you need to be beyond fine — you need to be happy and energized.

I loved this greeting because I always felt more energetic upon declaring myself “genki” — supporting the many scientific studies proving the power our words have to influence our state of being.

To help you get genki, here are my top tips for getting and staying energized all day long.

Get more sleep.

You want to do it all. You want to work, travel, sleep, exercise, study and still have time to spend with your family. I get it. Cutting back on sleep seems like the easiest way to find yourself another few hours to do all those things you want to do.

Big mistake! Your brain uses sleep to restore optimum physical, mental and emotional functioning. Without proper sleep, your productivity, creativity, mental sharpness, emotional balance, and physical vitality diminishes. If you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, use caffeine and sugar to perk you up, get sleepy in meetings, or fall asleep easily while watching TV, you are sleep deprived. Most adults need between 7.5 and 9 hours per night, but get only 6-7. That extra 45-90 minutes can be the deciding factor between thriving and just surviving.

Get enough exercise.

Notice that I didn’t say get more exercise. More is not always better. Anyone who has suffered from the post-mortem stiffness and fatigue of an overzealous workout gets this. The key to understanding how much exercise is enough for you to achieve your energy (or weight and fitness) goals with least effort is the Minimum Effective Dose (MED) – the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome.

The MED for boiling water is 100ºC. Anything beyond that is overkill. Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Body, has proven that the MED for building muscles anywhere you want them is just 80 seconds of lifting 20lbs daily – not hours of pumping metal at the gym. My exercise MED for optimum energy is a 15 minute run in nature at least 5 days/week. Whether by research or personal experimentation, the MED is the key to more energy – and results – with less effort in every area of your life.

Use coffee strategically.

No, I am not going to tell you to stop drinking coffee – I love my java too much for that! And I am not going to tell you that it is bad for you – the verdict is still out on that and I know which side I am hoping for. I am going to tell you how it actually works so that you can understand how to use it more strategically to boost energy.

Based on Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine by Stephen Braun, caffeine itself doesn’t perk you up. It just blocks the receptors that make you feel sleepy, giving other happy chemicals like dopamine free reign to work their magic for a while. Unfortunately, within a week of regular caffeine consumption, humans become tolerant of their daily dose(s) to the point where they don’t feel any benefit.

To restore caffeine to a functional (and pleasurable) role in your energy management repertoire, you need to “dry out” for at least several days between each use. This is long enough to trigger the headaches, fatigue, irritability and other nasty symptoms that we caffeine junkies experience. However, it’s worth it in order to be able to use caffeine more strategically for those times when you really need to boost your energy.

Sometimes, our caffeine habits are entwined with other needs. While nursing your caffeine headache, it might be a good time to think about the situations and feelings that trigger these cravings. This could help you discover chronic energy leaks that can save you tons of time and energy.

Top 3 tips for staying genki at work. Keep your health, happiness, energy and enthusiasm up by getting enough sleep, exercise and caffeine!


The above three tips can do wonders to ramp up your physical energy. Equally important is paying some attention to your mental, emotional and spiritual energy. Next month I am going to focus on some tips to ease a heavy heart and close your integrity gaps that will build a solid foundation for lasting enthusiasm for life and work.


A version of this post first appeared on Tokyo Families Magazine.

Feature photo by blic sejo via Dollarphotoclub.

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