Nutritional therapist Rosie Millen reveals how the Traffic Light System can help you take back control of your energy levels and avoid burnout…

For those of you who are on the floor with your energy and are battling every day with the small things, the Traffic Light System is a great way to gain more control of your energy. The system is very simple and widely used by doctors with patients who have chronic fatigue syndrome and ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis).

What is the Traffic Light System?

To break it down simply, you divide your time into red activities, amber activities and green activities. It’s important to look at your day and identify what type of activities you are doing and where you are spending your energy. The different activities include:

  • RED ACTIVITIES: These take up a lot of energy and leave you exhausted. They are things like running, overworking without sufficient breaks and all-day events.
  • AMBER ACTIVITIES: These are less strenuous – doing small errands, washing up, cleaning the house, or meeting a friend for breakfast, for example.
  • GREEN ACTIVITIES: These are the most important. Examples include yoga, meditation, deep breathing and reading a book. They’re the most restorative and help relax you.

If you are extremely exhausted, make sure you are avoiding the red activities and doing more green ones. Also do at least one green activity every day, whether it’s 30 mins of yoga, 20 mins in a warm bath or 10 mins of deep breathing.

Green activities help lower cortisol levels and bank energy. Your body is like a bank account and you need to bank as much money (energy) as possible. If you are constantly in the red, you need to change your activities where you can and start building up some credits.

Top tips on using the Traffic Light System to avoid burnout

  1. Think about where you can slowdown in your life. Is it at work? Or at home when running your errands? Do you need to delegate more to free up your time? Where can you make yourself the priority?
  2. Think about who you can ask for help. What is it that you will ask them to help you with? The cooking, the cleaning or just listening to your worries?
  3. Get more sleep! Make sure to put your phone on flight mode. What do you need to do specifically to get more restorative sleep in your life? Do you need to get to bed earlier, drink some Reishi mushroom tea or take a daily nap in the afternoon?
  4. Look at your exercise routine. Are you doing too much? Do you need to swap a weekly run for a more gentle walk or yoga class?
  5. Plan a time in the diary when you and a friend are going to go on a social media detox.
  6. Think about where you can add more green activities into your schedule. Set an alarm to make sure you are doing at least one green thing every day.

Rosie Millen studied at the Institute of Optimum Nutrition and graduated in 2010. In 2014, Rosie was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and knows what it is like to be so tired, you can’t get out of bed. Her book, Burnout’s A B*tch! (£20, Mitchell Beazley) is out now.

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