Best exercise highly successful people use to be happier

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Just as you wouldn’t burn your entire paycheck on payday, you shouldn’t be using all of your energy every day.

Yet most people continually deplete their energy to the point of burnout on a daily basis, says Sarah Sarkis, psychologist and senior director of performance psychology at Exos, a Phoenix-based performance coaching firm.

Sarkis helps train NFL players, executives from Fortune 100 companies like Intel and Humana, and other professionals how to thrive in high-pressure environments. For her, the number one cause of burnout, even among the very successful people she works with, is poor energy management.

“Like money, energy is finite,” says Sarkis. “You have loans and debts. Every time you do something that benefits your mental or physical health, like sleeping or exercising, you get a credit. But any activities that interfere with that, like working overtime or skipping a meal, are debits.”

If you take your account into the red, you’ll quickly deplete or shut down your energy supply, she adds.

Best strategy according to Sarkis Preventing burnout and becoming a happier, more focused person is creating an “energy budget.” Here’s how to do it.

First, spend a day or three keeping track of all your activity, from commuting to scrolling on TikTok. How and where do you spend most of your time and attention?

Categorize each action as “Energy Credit” or “Energy Debit.” Credits are the things that energize you, and debits are activities that feel draining.

Illustration by Gene Woo Kim

After completing your energy audit, identify patterns. Did you spend a lot of time on your cell phone? Did you sleep enough? Such patterns “could be self-sabotage and undermine your efforts to perform at your best,” says Sarkis.

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Finally, think about what activities you can postpone, stop, or start to replenish your energy.

You can’t always control your schedule or responsibilities, but combining energy credits and debits can counteract the harmful effects of strenuous activity, says Sarkis. For example, if you’re stuck in traffic, you can listen to music, a podcast, or an audio book on a topic you’re passionate about while driving.

Or develop a plan to recover from stressful activities. Try therapeutic exercises like meditation, yoga, journaling, or taking a walk outside. Schedule it on your calendar like a doctor’s appointment or a meeting with your boss.

The small change can make a big difference in how you feel and what you can achieve, says Sarkis: “You’d be surprised how much energy we waste on things that don’t matter.”

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