A New Year’s Energy Boost

It’s the first day of the year. Raise your hand if you could use more energy! That’s everybody, then?

For months, I’ve been researching ways that people can restore and maintain their energy levels. Today begins what we’re calling the 6-Day Energy Challenge, where we will share evidence-based tips and inspiration so you can feel more awake throughout the day. (You can sign up here to follow along.)

Of course, some of the things that drain us are largely beyond our control: Taking care of young kids or older parents, working long hours, or dealing with illness can all be exhausting. But there are small changes anyone can make to feel a little less depleted.

While a good night’s sleep is the gold standard for feeling refreshed and alert, daytime rest has real benefits. Many of us, for example, rush from one activity to the next without stopping. But research suggests that taking microbreaks — small pauses under five minutes — throughout the day can help keep us feeling energized. Even 10 seconds of rest, one study found, can improve our ability to learn.

Of all the tools I learned while researching the challenge, nothing has done more to restore my energy levels than these brief breaks. But everyone is different. Some of us could use more movement — and others might need to address relationships that are sapping their energy.

We identified five realms that are critical for building and maintaining energy: rest, exercise, socializing, eating and finding enjoyment in what you’re doing. Each day of the challenge will focus on one of these aspects.

For today’s installment of the energy challenge, you should find a quiet (or quiet-ish) place in your home or workplace. The setting isn’t important; what’s important is that you take a few minutes for yourself.

Mute your phone and get comfortable. You can sit up, lean against a wall or, if you’re able, lie down with your eyes closed. Then, take a few deep breaths. This isn’t an elaborate meditation; you’re simply breathing and aiming for what our expert calls “wakeful relaxation.” If you have music that puts you at ease, you can listen to it while you take your break.

Doing this for five minutes once or twice a day is long enough to help you feel refreshed, but brief enough that you might actually be able to fit it into your schedule.

I hope you’ll join me — and the neuroscientists, nutritionists and exercise scientists who provided insights — on our quest for more energy this week. (We will also have a few special guests, including Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, who will discuss the sustaining vitality that their 47-year friendship has given them.)

Arizona’s economy is expected to fall apart in the face of climate change and water shortages. But its ability to adapt exceeds that of many coastal cities, Tom Zoellner writes.

Democrats need to prove government works if they want the support of young people, Michelle Cottle writes.

New York can’t solve its housing shortage with rent control or office conversions. It needs to build, Vishaan Chakrabarti argues.

Metropolitan Diary: An unmistakable brightness in the sky.

Lives Lived: The comedian Shecky Greene was a frequent guest on Ed Sullivan and Johnny Carson, and his high-energy act made him one of the biggest stars in Las Vegas. He died at 97.

Sunday Night Football: The Green Bay Packers rolled over the Minnesota Vikings, 33-10, and kept their playoff hopes alive.

Around the N.F.L.: The Baltimore Ravens clinched the A.F.C.’s top playoff seed with a 56-19 rout of the Miami Dolphins. And the Philadelphia Eagles, once the league’s top team, continued their late-season struggles, falling 35-31 to the Arizona Cardinals. Here are more results and takeaways.

Russell Wilson: The N.F.L. Players Association told the Broncos that their “threat” to bench Wilson over a contract clause was illegal.

College football: Some of this year’s bowl games have been a bummer, with lopsided results and many players skipping games. Nicole Auerbach offers five ideas to fix the postseason.

Golf: The PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund extended a deadline on merger negotiations, leaving the sport in limbo again as 2024 begins.

“Sea tea”: The nine-month Ultimate World Cruise is the longest voyage ever offered by Royal Caribbean, with a 274-night itinerary and stops in 65 countries. Since the journey began on Dec. 10, TikTok has been flooded with posts speculating on what interpersonal drama could be occurring on the ship, turning some passengers into unintentional celebrities. The videos — posted with the hashtag #UltimateWorldCruise — have been viewed more than 138 million times.

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