For me, August has always felt like the Sunday of the calendar year. I try to relax and savour every last bit of the season, and yet I also start to feel my adrenaline and active energy gearing up as I dream, prepare and plan for what the fall might bring.
Though a new season is an ideal time to make fresh starts and either reset or refocus intentions, this fall is going to be unlike any other. As we adjust to new school and work routines, we’re still facing uncertainty around how our lives will continue to be disrupted or adjusted. Within that uncertainty can lie feelings of exhaustion, overwhelm, and just feeling drained.
Change is draining. And it can be draining for different reasons, for different people. So when you hear yourself saying, “I’m just feeling so tired,” I’d like you to do some detective work on yourself to unpack what’s behind the tiredness.
We have four different types of energies that, depending on what’s going on in our world, can either energize us or drain us: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual energy. While “leaks” or drains in any of these energies can leave us feeling tired, how we replenish each of these energies looks very different. Here are specific actions you can take to help you identify, manage and replenish each of these energies (definitions for these energies come from Prosilience, by Linda Hoopes)
Emotional energy is your ability to remain motivated, to overcome negative feelings and thoughts, to avoid being drained by setbacks and to actively enjoy life. This energy gets drained when you are dealing with emotions such as worry, sadness and anger. If you are part of the @agencytochange community on Instagram (and if you’re not, join us!), you’ll recall a recent #TipTuesday, which spoke to the importance of naming and identifying your feelings. If you’re feeling drained, ask yourself: What emotions have you been experiencing? Have you been feeling sad, worried, angry, hurt? If so, your emotional energy may be drained and be behind your feelings of tiredness. Here are some practices that can help to replenish your emotional energy:
- Identify 3 things every day that you are grateful for
- Look for small joys – such as noticing the beauty in your surroundings
- Build your emotional vocabulary so that you can recognize how you’re feeling. By pausing to identify the feeling and its source, you give yourself a break to reflect and choose the next best action
- Where can you ask for help or support from others?
This is the energy that most of us are familiar and comfortable with. This is when we are using our bodies to get things done – such as lifting heavy things, putting long hours into a task or staying awake for unusually long periods of time. All of these activities can drain our physical energy. When you’re feeling drained, do a quick body scan: Are your muscles aching? Eyes feeling strained? Is it hard to physically exert yourself? Here are some practices that can help to replenish your physical energy:
- Set a consistent bedtime, and consider a pre-bedtime routine. Avoid those screens before bed!
- Take opportunities throughout the day to slow your breathing down to 10 or fewer breaths per minute
- Stay hydrated! Drink water first thing in the morning, and carry a refillable water bottle with you throughout the day
- Avoid too much sitting (which may be tempting when you are physically drained!) – try to get up and stand at least once every 30 minutes
You use mental energy when concentrating your attention intently, learning something new, solving problems, overcoming an obstacle, or performing analysis or calculations. All of these activities can drain your mental energy. If you’re feeling tired, notice: Are you making mistakes or bad decisions? Trouble concentrating? Issues staying alert? Have you been learning something new? Here are some practices to help you build and replenish your mental energy:
- Reduce your multitasking – focus on one thing at a time. Those of you that work with me directly know that I am not a believer in multi-tasking. Create “focused time” blocks to give yourself the chance to focus on one key items, in depth, at a time
- Give yourself “play” time – where you can do something enjoyable, spontaneous and fun
- Incorporate down time into your day – where you have no specific goal or agenda and can simply let your mind relax and wander.
- Develop a mindfulness or meditation practice that works for you. There are so many different ways to meditate and incorporate mindfulness – as little as 5 minutes of meditation in the morning can shift your entire day
Spiritual energy is the you are least likely to think about or consider when you’re feeling drained. Spiritual energy is your ability to connect to, and draw on, your own sense of purpose, meaning and passion. You use spiritual energy when you have to stand in integrity and have conversations, or make decisions, that are challenging and anything but easy. Those decisions that are the right thing to do, but not necessarily the easiest to make. You also use spiritual energy when doing things for others, or the community. When you’re feeling drained, ask yourself: Am I feeling disconnected from the world around you? Do you feel you are lacking purpose? Is your line of work out of alignment with your personal values? Here are some practices to help you build and replenish your spiritual energy:
- Get clear on your values: What do you personally stand for? What matters most to you? This clarity can help you assess the people, priorities, and work in your life against those values
- Develop a journaling practice where you capture what’s top of mind for you on a day-to-day basis. Look for themes and insight into what has meaning and purpose for you
- Care for yourself. Those in service professions tend to drain their spiritual energy. Engage in activities that you find joyful and uplifting – prioritize those in your calendar
Now that you have a better understanding of the four energies, go ahead and do some detective work: Which of the energies need replenishing? If there’s someone who might benefit from learning more about the four energies, please forward this post along to them. And if you’re enjoying this content, you can access more practical tips over on Instagram (@agencytochange) and directly to your inbox by signing up for our newsletter over at agencytochange.com