Monitoring your energy: what drains or replenishes you?

batteries1Energy and Choices

We all want to feel alive, energetic and vibrant.  An “energy gain” is an activity, task, or thought that makes you feel better and more alive—those things we want to or choose to do. An “energy drain” is something that leaves us feeling less alive and even depleted—those things we believe we have to or must do; often something that we do not want to do.  In almost all cases, it is not that we have to, should, or must do a thing, it is actually a choice.  Even though you may believe “I have to cook dinner,”  it is a choice.  You can choose not to cook, and instead eat a prepared food or restaurant meal. Our thoughts and perceptions of an activity can make a big difference in our energy. Simply feeling frustrated can deplete us, while feeling grateful can replenish our energy.

Energy drains and gains are always unique to the individual; what is a drain for one can be a gain for another.  Energy drains can be doing the dishes and feeling resentful that your partner or children are not doing them, or anticipating seeing a person whom you do not really want to spend time with. An energy gain can be meeting a friend you enjoy, going for a walk in the woods, or taking a relaxing bath.

So often our lives are filled with things that we believe we “should do” instead of want to do.  “If I did this, my family and friends won’t like me”, or “I am not sure I will be successful so I will do something that is safe.”  How well charged are your energy batteries?

 

Explore strategies to decrease the energy drains and increase the energy gains. Try the following to observe your energy fluctuations:

  1. For one week monitor your energy drains and energy gains. Notice the events, activities, thoughts, or emotions that increase or decrease energy at home and at work. For example some drains can include cleaning bathroom, cooking another meal, or talking to a family member on the phone, while gains can be taking a walk, talking to a friend, completing a work task. Be very honest, just note the events that change your energy level.
  2. After the week look over your notes and identify at least one activity that drains your energy and one activity that increases your energy.
  3. Develop a strategy to decrease one of the energy drains.  Be very specific how, where, when, with whom, and which situations drain your energy.  Anticipate obstacles that may interfere with reducing your drains and develop new ways to overcome these obstacles. For example, trading tasks with others (“I will cook if you clean the bathroom”).
    Develop new ways to increase energy gains – such as doing exercise outdoors, or even taking a few minutes to breathe deeply.
  4. Each day intend to reduce one energy drain and increase one energy gain– and observe what happens.

Initially it may seem impossible, but many people report that the practice made them aware, increased their energy, and they had more control over their lives than they thought.  It also encouraged them to explore the question, “What is it that I really want to do?”  So often we do energy draining activities because of convention, habit and fear, which makes us feel powerless.  In observing our energy drains and energy gains, we become aware of choices.  Sometimes, the choice is not changing the tasks, but how we perceive and feel about them.