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In this podcast episode I interview mind and body expert Susan Scott , author of the book Life Force.
In this episode Susan talks about why we feel constantly tired
The role technology plays in ongoing fatigue
How we can best avoid stress
How we can create more energy
How to create a more positive mindset
The role of diet and exercise in creating more energy and balance in life
3 top tips to improve energy
Read Full Transcript:
Full episode transcript : Interview with Mind and Body Expert Susan Scott on How to Have More Energy and Improve your Work Life Balance
[00:00:04] I’m Ceri Wheeldon. Welcome to the Fab after Fifty podcast. Leading the pro age conversation, talking about all things life after 50.
[00:00:17] Hello and welcome to this week’s podcast. And I’m delighted to have with me today Susan Scott. Now, Susan Scott is a mind and body expert, a professionally trained nutritionist and psychologist, and she’s also the author of two best selling books, How to Prevent Burnout and How to Have an Outstanding Career. And her latest book is called Life Force. Hello, Susan. Welcome to Fab after 50. Hello, Ceri. And thank you for asking me to join you now. Why Life Force? I know this your latest book. You sent me notes through ahead of today’s conversation. I was absolutely astounded to read that one in five people in the UK reportedly feel tired all of the time. Why is that?
[00:00:59] I know. I know. I mean, it’s quite shocking. And actually, I’d even suggest it’s more than that. It’s I think it’s an awful lot about the life that we’re living at the moment. We’re living in this world and always on the pace of life is growing at a phenomenal rate. We’re working longer hours. We’re cutting back on recreation time. More importantly, we’re cutting back on me time because we just want to keep doing everything. And it’s taking its toll now.
[00:01:28] Does Technology play a part in that? I mean, I know that when I was certainly I would say at the peak of my headhunting career, we weren’t expected to be on 24/7. If I travelled it on the train. That was my thinking time. Whereas now I’m on the train, I’m there with my smartphone catching up on social media and emails on the go. So you never really switch off.
[00:01:53] But the thing about technology now is it’s broken down all the boundaries. So one of the things people often ask me or my workshops is how do I get my work life balance? And actually, I’d say it doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s about life balance because technology means we’re accessible all the time. But so is work accessible all the time. So we keep dipping in and out. I mean, I would get a train at 7:00 in the morning into London. And people will be on that train on their laptops, working, trying to get on top of it. And they’re doing the same on the way home. So, in fact, rather than saying, oh, they’re spending eight, nine hours of work, they’re spending more like ten, eleven hours at work, actually. So it is it is contributing significantly to this feeling tired all the time. And what’s exacerbating that is the stress that’s being built up around it. The chronic stress of actually dealing with it for your body it’s almost like being in constant fight or flight. And that’s exhausting.
[00:02:55] And I don’t know about, you know, the people that you have coming through as you or your clients or through your workshops. But I know if I consciously take a day off and switch a laptop off, the phone off, et cetera. I feel so guilty. I did that recently as I was so exhausted that I actually need to clear my head and I just need my space. I had day in the sunshine, but then I feel really guilty afterwards for having taken that time out.
[00:03:21] Ceri, you mustn’t feel guilty you’ve got to be kind to yourself. And I think that almost is a mantra. Be kind to yourself, because if you’re not kind to yourself, you’re no good to anyone. And when I mentioned about work life balance it doesn’t exist anymore. And it’s all about life balance. It’s actually about activity and recovery. So it’s doing all you need to do. That is fine, but you’ve got to take those moments to recover. And it’s something that will genuinely recharge you. So not necessarily coming home, throwing yourself in a chair and putting soap operas on all evening if you’re still working away in your mind on the issues that have gone on through the day but not recharging you, you need to do something that completely distracts you. So never feel guilty if you had a day off and you were doing something fabulous. That is the best thing you can do.
[00:04:14] And I think that in the summertime, I don’t know how other people respond to this, but when it’s lighter in the evenings, rather than switch the TV on or catch up with social media in the summertime, I have to water all my plants. But I look forward to that time with my watering can going around the garden watering my plants because it does force you to switch off. The plants will wither if you don’t do it. I will take that time out and as my gardener reminded me today. Water your plants. You have to do it, don’t you?
[00:04:44] You do. You do. And again, it’s time out for you. And you’re taking in the beauty. You’re stimulating your senses. It has such a positive effect on your mindset and your overall health. Oh a couple of years ago, my daughter got married.
[00:05:01] An incredibly exciting time. But then she asked me to do her flowers in the middle of a heat wave and just going out every evening watering these flowers was wonderful. It reminded me actually about work life balance and about getting a balance. When I come home from work as well. So, yeah, get out more to them. There’s a lot more benefits to you than just the plants and this sort of thing that you would cover in your book. Yes. So I think when we’re looking at energy and just your whole being, we hear so often the energy comes from eating the right things. Sleeping well and from exercising and absolutely it does. But also, it comes from your mental attitude and about thinking positively, having a purpose in life, but also managing all those stresses that go on around you. It’s something I call balance. So all of that is going to be really important if you want to actually really live a life long term that’s full of energy and vitality.
[00:06:10] How do you maintain that positive mindset? Do those things? I mean, I know that I have some friends who have difficult things going on in their life and they are incredibly positive despite all of that. But others, you would think, seemingly have sort of a wonderful life. And they’re the ones that get really depressed and upset over little things.
[00:06:32] Yeah, I know exactly where you’re coming from. We are human. And part of our human makeup is that we’re going to look to the negative. It’s about our survival. It’s no good going. Oh, it’ll all be alright when historically we would have been facing the saber tooth tiger. So naturally our minds will look to the negative. The problem now is that our minds can’t distinguish what’s definitely life threatening to us. And what really is just an annoyance maybe at the time. You know, we’re triggering those stress responses for all sorts of things that really we don’t need to. So we have to make a conscious effort to retrain our minds to be more positive. So doing something like waking up in the morning and training yourself to think of something positive as your own first thought, or even as you go to bed at night keeping a record of, say, three things that happen that day that you’re really grateful for. There’s so much evidence now coming through that saying that starts to train the mind, to start to think more positively if you think more positively. You have you’re almost more energized because you’re taking a much brighter outlook on life.
[00:07:52] Is that something a lot of people talk about. Your vibration rate affects your thoughts. Is that a factor? Positive thinking.
[00:08:02] Yes. Yes. And I think also within a sort of thinking about the ratio of it, what they’re recommending is that if every one negative thought you should try to have three or possibly four positive thoughts. So if you catch yourself thinking negatively about something, try and turn it round, try to reframe it into something positive, because that will help you find your way out of what could be a difficult situation that you are thinking negatively and maybe your mood is dropping around it. So make that switch, what we call reframing from the negative to the positive and try and find all positives for that one negative.
[00:08:44] Right. And you will see much of both positive thinking. You’ve talked about exercise, and people talk about nutrition. Are there other specific things we should be doing exercise wise, nutrition wise, in order to have more energy as well.
[00:08:57] Well, I think definitely as you move into the over 50 age group, your demand for exercise is going to change. And what you’re going to find is that you need to do more resistance, are more stretching exercises. A couple of years ago, I started doing yoga because I felt as if I was shriveling up, you know, everything. I wake up in the morning and I would very tentatively walk to the bathroom because my feet felt tight. My legs felt tight. And I found yoga just completely transformed that. But then the next thing I noticed was the muscle wastage. My arms were starting to change. So resistance training as well. I have a pilates reformer machine, which is one that has a platform which moves. And it has sort of elastic bands on it, I’m able to actually to get some sort of body resistance and be able to develop those muscles further. So yeah, we do have to start thinking about how exercise in a different way. And the third thing I do is. Dancing, because I think is so amazing for your mind as well and the camaraderie you get amongst friends and the laughter again is something that really puts your energy into setting.
[00:10:13] I was doing that classes, Fitsteps classes . That’s what I do. They put a change of time and venue for the class. I can’t quite get to, I have to find another one to go to. And they just used to laugh at me. I was very lucky. I did mine with Ian Waite when he first started, and he just just laughed at me because I have no sense of direction at all. And he’d say, turn right, and I’d turn left. And after about I don’t know how long I’ve been going and I actually didn’t fall over or didn’t bump into anyone in one class. He said Ceri, you’ve got it. It was fun and nobody seemed to mind, thy used to position me where I could do the least amount of damage. To be fair. Yeah. Yes. But I loved it.
[00:10:58] It’s wonderful. I’ve done Ian’s classes as well in Wokingham. And they’re so much fun. They really are. And now every week I will make sure I don’t miss my fitsteps. I’m really fortunate that I’ve got an award winning teacher here and it’s just such fun. And I think it brings everything together. And I know I think sometime last year there was a program on television with Angela Rippon and she put dancing as one of the best things you can do to keep your mind alert and to ward off all these sort of aging problems that we can see facing.
[00:11:34] I saw something on the news clip the other day, I don’t know if you saw it, but they were saying that they were helping people with early stages of Alzheimer’s do ballet classes. And and they found it helped to develop new neural pathways.
[00:11:52] Yes. And that’s and that’s what you’re trying to do when you think positively as well. You’re creating a new neural pathway. So it’s just the same with the dancing. It’s almost as if the muscle memory that you’re building up talks to your brain as well.
[00:12:07] It’s really powerful and nutrition as well, because if you’ve touched on exercise and positive thinking, what specific foods should we be building into our diet at this stage of our lives to have more energy now?
[00:12:21] Well, I think the sort of new nutrients we really need are things like vitamin D, because low vitamin D is connected with so many health issues, particularly things like autoimmune conditions. So one that I struggle with is an under active thyroid. And are they they found quite a connection now between low vitamin D and an autoimmune condition. So vitamin D you’ll get that from as well as the wonderful sunshine. People may have got it over the weekend with this wonderful weather, but also from things like oily fish from dairy products, vitamin B12, as we age, we don’t produce as much stomach acid and other enzymes in our stomachs that help us break food down and help us absorb it. One of the ones that struggles is vitamin B 12 and that’s really connected with your energy. So eating more foods that are high and B 12 is going to be important and that will be things like whole grains. So having whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta or whole rice, whole grain rice, not anything that’s beige that has not been bleached out because it’s actually in the husk of all these grains that you get these wonderful nutrients as well as zinc, which is really important for the stomach as well. And along with that protein and it’s protein, you really need to counteract the muscle wastage. So we often think of having, say, a protein shake is something that a bodybuilder would have. But actually, as you move over into that sort of magic decades of over 50, then protein becomes really important as well.
[00:14:13] It also helps the brain because a lot of the amino acids in protein are things that are going to help develop dopamine, serotonin. So all those neurotransmitters in the brain that are important for our memory, for happiness, for mood, for feeling great about life, it will help all those as well. So if we have a balanced diet, is there a need to take supplements as well, I’m much more in favour of trying to get it naturally. I really am now a multi vitamin I think can help. I do take one. But I’m much more in favour of eating more natural foods. And we talk we so much about the Mediterranean diet, there is an enormous amount of research that does say the Mediterranean diet is really good for you and the Mediterranean diet is about having good proteins. So whether that be from chicken, turkey, lots of fish, getting it through beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, good oils as well, olive oils, all of this fruit, vegetables, eating things and their natural state, that’s very wholesome. It doesn’t have to be difficult to cook these foods, but they are important. They will give you the absolute basis that’s going to give you all the nutrients you need to actually create energy in your cells in the first place. So, yeah, think Mediterranean, forget all the other faddy diets that are going on around you. The one I would always recommend is the Mediterranean diet, and that’s sort of overall energy.
[00:16:01] There are people out there that have an afternoon slump. There’s anything specific they can do for that. Yeah. It’s interesting actually, because the power nap is a topic that’s being talked a lot about at the moment.
[00:16:16] The idea is with a power nap is that you have just a very short sleep. So 10 to 20 minutes in the afternoon. It could be that actually you just sit close your eyes and just relax in that time, maybe listen to some music or maybe you will actually go off to sleep. But if you just sleep for that short amount of time, you shouldn’t wake up feeling groggy because you haven’t gone into one of the sort of the deep phases of sleep. You go for any longer than a half an hour. You’re more likely then to feel groggy when you wake up. So a power nap can be really helpful. But I would put a caveat that in our sleep patterns do change when we start getting older. And if you find yourself not sleeping as well at night, be very careful about trying to top it up during the day because you may find that have a knock on effect of you sleeping even worse at night. So you do need to find the balance. And if anything, if you’re not sleeping well at night, try to change the time. Maybe you go to bed, try and change, make sure that your room is quiet, that it is cool, all the things that are going to help you to sleep better. Try that first and then look to seeing whether a power nap may work for you, but without altering your nighttime sleep too much because it can have a detrimental effect.
[00:17:43] Which would be your three top tips that you would suggest to people to actually help improve their energy overall.
[00:17:53] Yeah. Well, I mean, we’ve talked about food and dieting so much. But, you know, one of the most important things is to stay hydrated. Right. People do not drink enough water. And I see this over and over again. I actually see the younger generation drinking much more water than a more mature generation now. I recommend have a pint glass of water by you and just be sipping that and then topping it up again during the day because the brain is actually 73 percent water. So if you get dehydrated, that’s why your energy drops. That’s why you can’t think straight. That’s why it’s struggling to remember something and concentrate and focus. So definitely stay well hydrated. Get out and have a walk in the morning light if you have a walk in the morning light that actually triggers the production of serotonin. Now, serotonin is the happy hormone that makes you feel good, makes you feel bright and happy. The great thing about it is in the evening it’s actually converted into melatonin and that’s the sleep hormone. So spending lots of time inside, behind glass, even if you can see daylight is not going to trigger that serotonin in the first place. So get out and have a good 20, 30 minute walk each day. And you’re almost doing two things that you’re still doing some exercise, but you’re also helping your sleep patterns as well. And the third thing that I think is really important to people is be curious. I also think we’re so busy. We’re sort of losing our curiosity, ask questions, listen to things like podcasts or TED talks. Just find things that will stimulate your mind because that’s going to really help your energy. And that will come from you having this curiosity of the world, of everything going on, and it will start to trigger a lot more. That will give you a sense of purpose.
[00:20:03] Thank you so much for sharing all of us today, Susan. Now, apart from buying your book, which we can put a link to in this podcast, how can people get in touch with you?
[00:20:15] Well, firstly, there’s my Web site, which is www.susanscott.co.uk And there’s lots and lots of information on that website with links to all sorts of things and tips. My top ten tips on various topics around nutrition, the mind, health, lots there for you. I also have two Instagram accounts and one of them is called the Energy Aunt. And the second one is called Age of Energy. And I’m always very happy as well to talk at events. so any speaking on any of the topics that you can see related on on my Web site or my Instagram accounts.
[00:21:01] Well, thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to us today. Really appreciate it. And look forward to the feedback on your tips from very energetic listeners. Oh, Ceri, thank you so much for inviting me. And I love talking to you. Thank you.
[00:21:23] Thank you for joining us today. Please do subscribe and also send the link to friends and be part of the pro-age conversation. Life really is meant to be fabulous at every age, but especially after 50.