by Sheila Ramsey, PhD, MSW
Over the past few weeks in our psychological/experiential groups, we have been discussing how your energy level impacts not only your overall quality of life, but your ability and willingness to work on managing your eating and engaging in physical activity. By energy, I mean the combination of physical wellbeing, emotional grounding, mental focus and spiritual connection. How are your energy reserves? What fills your well when you energy have been depleted?
Often, when we deplete our energy we find that resorting to quick fixes to keep you going such as eating sweets and “junk food”, overdoing caffeine, multitasking, smoking and driving oneself to keep going. By overspending and becoming even more depleted, we can then become overly protective of the limited energy stores that remain.
What is the cost of protecting your energy? Perhaps you may not be living life as fully, staying on the sidelines, participating in relationships half-heartedly or feeling resentful of things that are asked of you. To grow and expand your energy capacity, you must be willing to take risks – to engage fully. You also need to learn what replenishes your reserves, typically this involves time spent in a personally meaningful way; doing something that doesn’t further drain your reserves. It could include spending time in nature, listening to music, creating positive rituals – such as daily meditation or weekly prayer/church service, or time spent with nourishing relationships. The typical quick fixes (TV, computer games, junk food snacking) give us temporary and superficial recovery but serves more as escape or distraction from life. It leaves us un-refreshed.
Did you know that we are natural oscillators – our body functions with natural cycles and rhythms – hormones, sleep, brain waves, heart beats and so on? Yet most of us don’t allow for normal oscillations in the course of our day or week. Some things to consider that support our natural need for oscillation include:
- The need for rest and recovery following periods of engaged focus – taking a break every 60 minutes.
- The quality and quantity of sleep impacts our energy – make sure you regularly get enough sleep and consider short naps as energizers.
- To build physical capacity, consider interval training based on the principles of pushing our limits and teaching recovery.
- We need to learn to press beyond our comfort zone to build our emotional capacity by taking risks in areas that may be difficult for you.
- Growth takes pushing beyond our limits. This is true for all levels of energy – physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.