The tendency to reach for stimulants to borrow energy has become quite a habit for many people. You only need to look at the number of coffee shops around as well as the ranges of energy drinks that are available.

Adding stimulants may provide a temporary lift, but it actually perpetuates the stress cycle, continually stimulates the nervous system and worsens exhaustion.

When used regularly, stimulants reduce the baseline energy of a person, so they never really feel properly energized and therefore reach for more and more stimulants.

Stimulants also eventually wear off. The rate at which they wear off would depend on whether the person is a fast or slow metabolizer of the stimulant.  

Genetics play a role in how stimulants such as caffeine are metabolized – some people are fast metabolizers, and some are slow metabolizers. For example, some people can drink coffee and feel an immediate kick, whereas others don’t notice it immediately, but if they drink coffee too late in the day, they have trouble sleeping that night.

Sugar almost always gives a quick lift but can drop your levels to much lower than they originally were in a short space of time, causing a person to reach for more to get back up from the extreme dip in energy. These energy deficits are very hard to recover from without some serious course correction.

Energy can however be derived from healthy sources that don’t cause the resultant crash and yo-yoing that stimulants do.

When eating nourishing foods and combining foods in a healthy way, the body is much more likely to maintain stable energy levels.

People also need to be better at listening to their bodies and creating a healthier work-life balance. Sleep, exercise, social activities, spiritual and psychological health are also important aspects to consider for optimal health.

A healthy, sustainable and balanced diet and lifestyle should not require stimulants. 

When stimulants are used daily, they lose their effect, but if used sporadically, they can be very effective and will not add a stress burden to an already stretched body. Identifying whether the adrenal glands or thyroid gland need to be supported can be very helpful. If used appropriately, adaptogenic herbs can be used as supplements to support and strengthen these glands without over-stimulating the nervous system.

When we borrow energy consistently, we will eventually land up with a deficit. This can present in the form of burnout and chronic fatigue, but it may present as a chronic inflammatory disease, both of which can be avoided.

Following the basic principles listed below should help to ensure that you will not have an energy deficit to start with and that your requirements for stimulants should be considerably reduced: 

  • Enough good quality sleep
  • A healthy exercise routine that does not further drive cortisol production (i.e over exercise)
  • Stress Management
  • A healthy, balanced diet that addresses all nutritional requirements
  • Sufficient water intake
  • Reduced sugar, carbohydrate, alcohol, caffeine intake
  • Rest
  • Nourishment of the nervous system
  • Boundaries – a healthy work/life balance or even check your social calendar for too many social commitments

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 18 February 2021 to learn more.

Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am