This month I really felt the urge to share more about energy and what it means to us, in all its forms.
Many of us, myself included, have had up and down relationships with our energy levels, and right now, given the current pandemic that we are living through, as a society everyone just seems to feel drained and the words ‘exhausted’ or ‘dead tired’ appear in many more of my conversations these days.
Energy levels are the foundation of our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, and that concept seems so simple - yet it is incredibly powerful.
When our energy is high, we can move mountains. When it is low, we become demotivated, sick, and tired. Without energy our body is so much less productive or resilient, and it can even influence the way we think, our health, our mood, and our overall happiness. Low energy is bad news for us as human beings and it affects every part of our life.
Our ability to lead and succeed is directly proportional to the energy available to us, but high-pressure jobs and our Western lifestyle actually deplete our life energy, putting our performance, work capacity, health, and fulfilment at risk.
So then, how would you rate yourself out of 10 on current energy if 0 was wishing you were fast asleep and 10 was that you are about as energised as you can possibly get?
It may also be interesting to note that you can be energised mentally but physically tired, say after a day of hiking or gardening, so do take that into consideration as well. Also, stay compassionate and curious as you regularly check in with yourself.
With heightened awareness you can begin to set different intentions and make better decisions, and eventually we arrive at a point where we do less but achieve more. Sounds great, right?
We cannot change what we do not notice, so the very first step is becoming more aware of what we are feeling at any given moment. That means cultivating the capacity to observe our emotions, rather than being run by them. Simply naming our feelings gives us more distance from them, especially when they may be intensely negative.
The second step is to calm yourself, regardless of what is going on around you, and although this may seem impossible you need to find a solution that works well for you to reduce your stress levels as easily as possible.
A simple but powerful way is to use your breath. By breathing in through your nose to a count of four and out through your mouth to a count of eight, it is possible to clear your bloodstream of cortisol — the most pernicious stress hormone — in as little as one minute.
Movement is also really helpful. A burst of jumping jacks, or running up and down stairs, is a rapid and reliable way to discharge stress and to help to quiet the body and mind.
Do your most important work at the very beginning of your workday and try to do an uninterrupted stretch of 60 to 90 minutes, and then take a renewal break of 10 to 15 minutes. TIP: Hydrate and move about in your break rather than sit on social media.
Alternatively take shorter breaks more frequently, say a 5-minute break every 55 minutes.
Get up from your desk at lunchtime for at least 30 minutes, do some type of movement such as walking around the office (even better to get out of the office, if you can) and refuel yourself strategically with healthy, fresh foods, to help balance your blood glucose levels.
Do one minute of deep breathing to clear your bloodstream of stress hormones as regularly as possible.
When you stop working for the day, try to do something that allows you to transition mentally and emotionally between work and home (this could be a hobby, creative activity, gym work out or a phone call with a friend or family member).
In a world of ever-increasing demand and complexity, organizations across all industries need to be more intentional about how their people manage their energy – physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Although we cannot necessarily make our challenges and anxieties suddenly disappear, we can reset and increase our capacity to cope. Even though things ‘are as they are’ we can start to make an internal turnaround within ourselves, so that excess stress will not create a downward spiral in health.
Burnout can often feel insurmountable, however the sense of being overwhelmed is a signal, not a long-term sentence, and by understanding the symptoms and causes and implementing your personal calming strategies, you can begin to recover and to build a road map for prevention.
If you do continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, seeking professional help can also support you in managing it effectively. Please do not be afraid to seek professional help if you feel that you are no longer able to manage things on your own, we all need an ear to listen.
Managing your stress and harnessing your vital energy is such an important aspect of our life, and also the ‘quality’ of that life, I encourage you to reassess your situation if you are feeling low or despondent in any way.