Feel the Power in your body!


Feel the Power in your body!

In November 2018 I had a sport accident, resulting in several skull fractures and a concussion which took 9 months to recover from. Nine months of living with an energy level (much) lower than what I was used to. It lead me to reflect on energy and to learn by doing. I learned to make choices that benefit my own energy level and therefore well-being. Unfortunately it took a painful accident to learn this, but I am nonetheless very grateful it happened. Life-changing!

In order to deepen my learnings for myself, I decided to investigate the power of energy further and write it down. Maybe you can benefit from it as well.

This is the first of a series of articles about energy. Let’s start with the most tangible energy: the energy that exists in our bodies, our physical energy.

Our body energy balance: input and output

Our body gets its energy mainly from food (and beverages). Our food contains carbohydrates (including sugars), proteins, fats and fibres that provide us the energy – the calories – to keep going. Each of these energy sources provide their energy in a different way, each having advantages and disadvantages which we will not discuss further here.

Since I am an engineer, I like to think in processes and systems. You probably don’t often look at your body as a system, but it is. Very simplistically, our body is a system that consists of a bone structure, organs, muscles and several biological systems that carry out specific functions for everyday life (e.g. our digestive system and our respiratory system). This ‘body system’ has its own energy balance: calories go in via food, calories are used to generate warmth, to move, to prevent illness and to recover from injuries or sickness, and to use our brain. If we don’t use the energy from our food, we store it by building fat layers in our bodies. The calories that are not used or stored, we excrement.

Power of Energy

While I was recovering from my concussion, I had very limited energy, because my body was busy repairing my brain. If you look at the body system I could have opted to eat more (and accept the side effects 😉) or eat higher quality food. I have always been a strong advocate of balancing and healing my body by eating the right types of food, so I investigated which food I could best give to my body to speed up the rebuilding of braincells. I learned that especially so-called flavonoids and omega-3 would help rebuilding brain cells and I was happy to learn that some of my favourite foods were in the list: blueberries, salmon, mackerel and my personal highlight: dark chocolate! Also, I decided to not drink any alcohol, since that damages braincells making it harder for my brain to heal.

So, I made some small – and fortunately easy – diet changes to help my body recover.

Keeping the body energy balanced

I think all of us have experienced moments where our body was out of balance and we had to intervene. Taking vitamins or other supplements is one of the possible interventions. Vitamins help to restore the body balance, but if we stick to a balanced and nutritious diet we help our body to stay in a healthy, energetic condition. Prevention is better than curing!  

Other activities to stay balanced are recovery (like sleep) and exercise – amongst many other benefits, it improves blood circulation, strengthens the body and improves the structure and function of the brain.

During my own recovery, especially in the first few weeks, I slept a lot – it was clear my body needed it – and I spent as much time as I could walking outside. In the beginning, the maximum was a very confronting 15 minutes – imagine one of my favourite activities is multi-day hiking in the mountains and you will understand how confronting that 15 minute was – but that got better every month.

Connecting body and mind

There is one system in our body deserves some special attention, because it plays a big role in both our ‘body energy system’ and our ‘mental energy system’ and also in my own recovery process: the endocrine (or hormonal) system.

The endocrine system consists of a collection of glands that produce hormones. These hormones travel to different tissues to regulate various body functions, such as the metabolic system, sexual function, development, sleep and mood. The endocrine system affects almost every organ and cell in the body and therefore very much influences our energy levels and our energy balance.

I think it is clear how important it is to understand how we can improve our energy by helping our body produce the hormones that give us energy and avoid the ones that cost energy.


In times of stress, we create stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which helps us to be alert and active. This is extremely useful because it gives us the sharpness and energy to escape a threat, like when you meet a tiger… or closer to our daily lives, when you have to meet a deadline. In normal situations, the adrenaline/cortisol level drops after the situation has passed. However, when we stay in a stressful situation for too long and we don’t get or take time to lower the cortisol level, this hormone starts to impact our health negatively. It results in sleeping problems, breaking down of muscle tissue, fat build-up because the energy that is released is not used, memory loss etc. We are exhausting our body, it reduces our resilience and it makes us feel bad both physically and emotionally.

On the other hand, our hormonal system can also create hormones that make us feel happy and therefore gives us (mental) energy. Examples of these are dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin. Some of these hormones also act as neurotransmitters, stimulating the communication of cells in the brain and therefore making us smarter and more creative. These hormones elevate our mood, improve our self-esteem and our inner satisfaction and give us a euphoric feeling.

Clearly we can give our (mental) energy a boost by increasing the levels of these ‘happiness hormones’. We can do that by eating healthy (especially proteins since they help making the hormones), exercise and spending time on recovery – e.g. sleep, listen to music and meditate. But probably even more impactful is spending time on things that make us happy (even thinking about them helps!) and connecting to other people – the closer the connection the better.

We cannot split the mind from the body!

During my own recovery I increased my ‘happiness hormones’ and reduced my ‘stress hormones’ by limiting myself to work activities that I enjoyed doing and by reading (mainly listening to audio-books since reading was initially too tiring). I also noticed that connecting with other people – even though in short conversations – provided me with a lot of energy. I often said: “What I like about the conversations we are having is that we talk about the head, but we only talk with our heart” and I have loved every second of these conversations and the support they gave me.

Habits to keep your body energy balanced

Habit 1: Healthy snacking

Snacks are probably the most dangerous part to a healthy diet. How often do we quickly grab an easy and unhealthy snack? It is therefore also the biggest opportunity to improve on your healthy eating habits! So, a simple habit you could adopt is find a healthy snack you like (like fruit or nuts) and take it with you. This prevents you from making bad decisions when you start to crave food during the day.

Habit 2: Make more ‘happiness hormones’ yourself

Find an activity that you enjoy doing and do it regularly while you fully focus on it. Think about sports, yoga, meditation or listening to your favourite music. To make it a habit: start small and connect it to a habit you already have. For example listen to one song while you prepare breakfast, do one or two yoga poses before brushing your teeth, sit up straight and focus on your breath for 3 minutes as soon as you wake up. Come up with a small habit that will work for you. You can always expand this habit later.

Enjoy making your own happiness hormones! 😊

And if reading this article already made your energy go up, please hit the ‘Like’ button!

 In the next article, we will further explore the impact of the mind on your energy level.