Energy Influencers

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Influencers on Energy

Do you notice that some days are better than others?  Some days you are full of energy and have optimism and can handle the challenges that come your way. You feel on top of your game and ready for anything.

Then there are those days when just getting out of bed is a struggle.  Nothing seems to go right and everything seems to gets under your skin.  You notice it, you don’t like it but how do you turn it around?  How can you have more of those days when you feel more in control and capable of taking charge?

These ups and downs are normal.  Our energy is rather like the stock market. It goes up and down. It goes up depending on what is happening in the environment.  Did you get good sleep, good nutrition?  Maybe it was a fantastic compliment from your boss that buoyed your spirits for the rest of the day.  Or, you finished a project that allowed you to receive funding for an important new initiative. Any of those experiences can lift up our energy.

What about when you are working tons of extra hours that are cutting into your eating and exercise routines or keeping you from re-connecting to family?  How does that affect your energy?  These experiences also influence our energy by making us feel depleted, run down, or isolated.

The good news is you can affect your energy. You have the ability to set up your life so that you get more of those good days and less of those down days.  It starts with awareness – awareness of things that influence your energy for good or for not so good.

Six Influencers on your Energy

There are six domains in life that influence the level of energy you have for life.

Social

Mental

Emotional

Physical

Spiritual

Environmental

A.K.A. “SMEPSE”

Social

How does your social life renew or deplete your energy?  Depending on your personality preferences you may find that too much socializing is energy draining.  Or that the content of your conversation when socializing is depleting.  If the people you spend time with tend to be negative or constantly in turmoil and drama, you may find yourself exhausted after being with them.   By contrast, perhaps you want to have more of a social life because being solitary is energy draining for you.   Your social circle may lift you up because the people in it are supportive, positive, and genuinely interested in you. You feel energized after being with your tribe.

Question:  Reflect on your  current social life – how often do you feel renewed and energized by your social interactions?  How often do you feel depleted?  What are the differences betweenthese two experiences?

Mental

Mental acuity and focus can make us feel productive, fulfilled, excited about our lives!  Imagine walking into work with a plan – you know your calendar for the day, you know your priority “to-do’s” and you feel confident about your ability to tackle the challenges that come your way.  You’ve had a good night’s sleep and you have used your morning drive to calm your mind and organize your thoughts for the day. You recognize that for you to be at your best, you have a discipline about keeping your priorities front and center.  And, you know what your priorities are because you are connected to your purpose – this allows you to act with integrity and clarity that fosters respect and collaboration with your team and peers.

Mental exhaustion, on the other hand, can come from different causes….

Conducting your work in a distracting, noisy physical environment. Noisy can be the volume of noise, it can be visual noise, it can be attention-robbing noise (i.e., interruptions).

Multi-tasking or feeling stretched too thin

Situational depression or chronic mental illness

Feeling physically run down.  Chronic sleep deprivation over time can imitate the effects of being impaired by alcohol.

Being constantly in go-mode without taking time out to connect to why you are doing what you are doing.

Question: When was the last time you started your work day with clarity, focus and excitement?  What would be different about your life if this happened more frequently?

Emotional

Your ability to self-regulate your emotions is a key strategy for managing and preserving your energy.  Emotions are like a barometer – simply put, they can track whether stress is on the rise or falling – and this will contribute energy or rob you of energy for a given task.  High levels of  emotional intelligence and social Intelligence will help you to navigate the challenges of the day with aplomb.  Low emotional and social intelligence results in exhaustion, depletion, ineffective and friction-filled relationships and a low sense of self-efficacy.

Question: As you go through you day - what do you feel?   What can you do about it?  What are the emotional states that best support you in your roles, goals, and tasks?

Physical

The physical influencers on your energy are well known and documented. This influencer involves your physical health.  When you have good sleep,  good nutrition, good hydration, good cardio fitness and flexibility, you feel better and you have more energy.  New research shows that good sleep (or lack thereof) is a key indicator of good heart health.

“Sleep is essential for a healthy heart. People who don't sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease—regardless of age, weight, smoking and exercise habits. One study that examined data from 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.
It's not completely clear why less sleep is detrimental to heart health, but researchers understand that sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation.” -National Sleep Foundation

We often think we don't have time to squeeze in exercise or to make healthy meals for ourselves and our family.   In our ultra busy lives, stopping by the fast food restaurant on the way home or ordering a pizza for dinner is expedient.  Skipping going for a walk, bike ride, or run is also expedient.  But there is nothing expedient about ignoring or neglecting your physical health. 

Sometimes we may feel guilty putting ourselves first by taking time for exercise.  With your busy work week and your kids being busy with school and activities, you may feel like taking that hour for yourself is the “wrong” thing to do.  A great metaphor to counter this feeling is the safety instructions that you hear on the airplane before taking off. In the event of loss of air pressure in the cabin, the oxygen masks will drop down. Put YOUR oxygen mask on before assisting others. Why is this?  Because if you prioritize putting other people’s oxygen masks on and air is running out – what happens to you? You may expire.  If you put your oxygen mask on first, your ability to help others is prolonged. Think about your family – how likely is it that they want you be healthy, happy and energized for them for the long haul?  Put your oxygen mask on first!

Question: What do you notice about your energy when you have a good eating and exercise habits?  What do you notice about your energy when you over-indulge in sweets and fats or you get outof the habit of physical exercise?

Spiritual

The spiritual influencer on our energy can take many forms.  For some, it is worship. For others, it might be meditation or yoga.  Being in nature is a form of spirituality for many. In its essence, spirituality is about being connected to a higher purpose – your purpose, doing what you are meant to do.

How many of your went into healthcare because you felt called to do so?  Perhaps you had a profound experience with a healthcare provider during a health crisis.  Or, maybe you have a family tradition of being a healthcare provider.  In the hectic, day to day rhythm of your work life, its easy to lose sight of why you are doing this work in the first place. Staying connected to your higher purpose gives you the energy to stay with this important work.  When you neglect the spiritual influence of your energy, you can fall into burn out, depression, or worse.

Question: When was the last time you took time out to re-connect to your higher purpose?  What works best for you in terms of creating the time and space for reflection and connection?

What would be the benefit to you of making regular time for replenishing the spiritual well?

Environmental

Do you feel compelled to clean the kitchen before starting to cook?  Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to feel organized about your work day when your office is a mess?  You get distracted by the post-it notes on your monitor, the stacks of papers on your desk, and the constant drive-bys from staff who put their head and say,”do you have a minute?”

You are experiencing the effects of the influence of your physical environment on your energy.  Now imagine walking into a room that is orderly, with calming lighting, comfortable ambient temperature, and low noise level - what do you notice about what happens to you physically? Likely, your heart rate and respiration slow down, you experience more calm, you slow down.  

Just as your physical environment can either add to or renew your energy it can also deplete your energy by being full of distractions.

Question: Examine your physical environment both at home and at work - how does it add or enhance your energy or detract from it?

Did you notice?....

How  these different influencers on our energy are inter-related?  A deficit in one area will impact the other areas.  If your life is feeling out of balance, how could you examine these six different influencers to understand the source of that feeling?

 

Staying Connected to Purpose

http://www.multivariablesolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/purpose-Studio-Insights-by-Michael-David-Sturlin.jpg

I was having a conversation with a colleague recently where she was expressing her frustration about the behavior of her teammates on her leadership team.   “I just want to knock their heads together!” she exclaimed.  Of course, she wouldn’t do that – but the energy behind that thought is abundantly clear to her teammates around the table. She went on to say that after days or weeks of feeling so frustrated, she goes home exhausted and fed up and wondering how long she can stay in the game.  She recalls that she went into healthcare because she was called to help others. Nursing runs deep in her family and she knew from a young age that this was what she wanted to be. “How can I stay true to my passion for nursing when I am so stressed out all the time?!”

Compassion fatigue, burn-out, whatever you call it – the cause and effect are the same – a disconnect from purpose, not living authentically, and feeling like you are meant to do more – be more.  The demanding nature of working in healthcare can erode a person’s energy and passion for doing the important work of healthcare. How do you keep the flame alive?  How do you stay inspired by the importance of what you do when you are exhausted, stuck, and overwhelmed?

Did you know that there are 40,198 books on Amazon on the subject of staying connected to purpose? People are desperate to know this.  They are desperate because they know that being inspired by their lives is the key to fulfillment, energy, satisfaction, and knowing they are doing what they are meant to do – namely share their unique gifts with the world.  Lucky for you, you only have to answer these five simple questions to get started*:

1)    Who are you? (literally… what’s your name?)

2)    What do you do? (what do you feel called to do?  What is it about your profession that you feel called to do? As healthcare providers – is it about healing? Or, providing comfort in times of crisis? Is it educating others on how to live healthier lives?  Or, providing clarity and inspiration to your team so that they can provide safe care to their patients?)

3)    Who do you do it for? (picture them in your minds)

4)    What do these people want or need that they can only get from you?

5)    How do they change or transform as a result of what you do?

Now, put this together in a powerful sentence.

I asked my colleague to do this and this is what she came up with.

“My name is Ann and I provide powerful, clear, compassionate, and inspirational leadership to my leadership team.  I have a unique perspective and experience that allows me to connect to my leaders in a way that they feel understood and that I have their back. This allows them to be fearless, persistent, and creative in seeking out innovative ways to take great care of our patients.”

When she shared that with me, I was blown away and so was she.  I asked her how that statement affected her and how she would use it.  She thought about this for a minute before replying, “I hadn’t put it all together like this before but as I was writing it and saying it out loud, I knew it was true. I felt in my gut that this is what I want to be doing every moment of every day.  My leadership team is great. I’ve seen what they are capable of and when I am at my best, so are they.  I owe it to them and to myself to keep this vision front and center.  I can use it as my daily touchstone, a reminder of my purpose in occupying my leadership role in my hospital.”

As a healthcare provider, your “why” is never that far away.  It just needs the occasional “dusting off” to remind you of what called you to healthcare in the first place.

*Adam Leipzig
How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVsXO9brK7M&feature=share

2:00 am moments - be gone!

It’s 2:00am again… you roll over and see the clock and inwardly groan.  Your mind starts racing as you start to replay the events of the day, thinking about what you did or said or what you didn’t say, or shouldn’t have said.  Then you start reviewing your to-do list, adding things to it and worrying about all those things that you didn’t get to again.  Now, you are truly awake, fretting about the upcoming day.  You desperately need good sleep so that you don’t go to work exhausted again – but how? How do you have a full night of restorative sleep when you are distracted by having so many balls in the air?

This experience is all too common in our ultra-busy, over-committed lives. When you are at work, you have home life issues on your mind; when you are at home, you are checking email and texts from work. You end up feeling like you are failing in both places. And, that leads to feelings of powerlessness, overwhelm, and resentment.  You are now ripe for those 2:00am moments.

What to do?!  Here are four simple steps to quiet the “monkey mind,” release your self-judgment and worry, and take back control of what feels like an out-of-control life.

1.     Notice!  A key strategy for quieting down the monkey mind (a.k.a your stress response) is to notice it.  You can do this in different ways. You can simply say to yourself, “I notice that I am getting revved up by thinking about my conversation with Sally today.  I choose to let this go as it is in the past and I cannot change what happened.”  Or, “I notice that I am worrying about having to talk to Joe about his attendance issues tomorrow. I choose to let that go as I know I am prepared for it.”  

Try a technique that I call, “catch and release” to help you notice and release those un-supportive habits of thinking.

Catch and Release guided meditation:

Imagine you are sitting by a babbling brook, the ambient air is pleasant, a soft breeze is rustling the leaves in the trees, you are perfectly comfortable and relaxed.   As a worrying or negative thought enters your mind, notice it or “catch it.”  Say to yourself, “I notice I’m thinking about….”  Then, imagine you crumple that thought up like a piece of paper and then release it into the brook.  Then, watch it flow downstream. Go back to being in the present moment by being aware of the noise of the brook, the wind in the trees, the warmth of the air and how comfortable and relaxed you are.  Everytime you notice a negative thought coming into your awareness, “catch and release” it.  Stay with the guided meditation for three to five minutes.

2.     Keep a journal.  Write it down every time you start to fret about what happened in the past (or what might happen in the future).  You don’t have to write a novel. Just notate every time you start to fret about something in the past or the future. This is another way of noticing your stress response.  Every time you notice your worry is an opportunity to counter that thought with a different, more productive thought. Such as, “what’s another way of thinking about…?”  Or, “how would someone with a completely different perspective from me think about…..?”

3.     Carve out “me” time.  Dedicate 30 minutes at the end of each day to capture all that you accomplished that day. Don’t skimp!  These can be as simple as “I left the unit to have lunch” or “I left the building to take a 15 minute walk.”  During that 30 minute time, write down your priorities for the next day. I suggest limiting those priorities to no more than three (click here to download "Top Three Things" tool) When you walk in the next morning – you know what you want to be working on.  Again, at the end of the day, capture your accomplishments.  Did you get one of your priorities done? Congratulations! You knocked one off the list!  And, if you notice your stress response creeping in, (“I didn’t get all my priorities done!”) say, “I notice that I am judging myself for not getting all my priorities done – what is another way of thinking about this that is more supportive?”

4.     Counter the physiological response to stress*.  Did you know that whenever your stress response is triggered you release the stress hormone, cortisol?  Small upsets as well as big upsets release cortisol.  For instance, someone cuts you off in traffic and you cuss them out – you release cortisol.  As you are walking into the building you get a terse text from your boss – you feel that tightening in your gut – you are releasing cortisol.  You might be worrying about having to talk to a staff member about his performance, you are releasing cortisol. 

Cortisol plays a key part in our survival in that it keeps you in an awake and alert state when you feel threatened.  Have you ever noticed that after a particularly stressful day you have a hard time falling asleep? That’s because your system is flooded with cortisol! This keeps you in a hyper-vigilant state so that you can fend off all those threats you perceive in your environment and this makes a night of restorative sleep difficult to achieve. This constant assault on your system breaks down your resilience capacity. You end up chronically exhausted, edgy, impatient, and crabby. Your ability to self-regulate decreases.

The reality is that the typical threats you encounter in your day are not life-threatening. The job that cortisol is designed to do, in this case, isn’t necessarily supportive of what you want in life.  You want to feel composed, calm, productive, engaged, and satisfied with your activities in life. Just as there is a bio-chemical response to stress there is also a bio-chemical response to renewing experiences. And, you can summon this more productive, healthy, bio-chemical response on-demand!

When you experience excitement, calm, satisfaction, appreciation, gratitude, these emotions release the vitality hormone DHEA.  DHEA counteracts the effects of cortisol. This is where noticing your thoughts comes into play.  You can re-experience those renewing emotions and experiences in your thoughts and release DHEA.  This simple shift in your attention pays big dividends in quieting the monkey mind and paving the way to a good night’s sleep. With this shift in attention you build your resilience capacity. Now you can roll with the punches, keep your perspective on things and your sense of humor.

Try this simple technique called Quick Coherence* for counteracting your stress response:

1.     Put your attention on your heart area and breathe in and out through your heart area, a little slower and deeper than normal

2.     Activate a positive emotion.  Re-experience a renewing emotion such as gratitude, appreciation, excitement, or satisfaction in a job well done.

Do this five time a day for 60 seconds.  As a reminder, set five alarms on your phone to alert you to practice this technique each day.    The key here is to genuinely re-live the renewing emotion.  Just as you can get stressed out by re-living an event in your head (or making one up), re-live a renewing, positive experience in your head instead. Doing this proactively five times a day will make an amazing difference!

7 Day Challenge!  

For the next seven days, I challenge you to put into practice some new habits of thinking and behaving:

-        Notice your negative, self-judging thoughts – be vigilant, don’t let them slip by un-noticed. Then, challenge them! Ask yourself, “what’s another way of thinking about this that is more supportive?”  Bonus points for keeping a journal.

-        Carve out 30 minutes of “me” time at the end of the day to celebrate your accomplishment and write down your top three things to focus on the next day.

-        Practice Quick Coherence five times a day to counteract the release of cortisol.

At the end of seven days, contact me at gillian@rxforempowerment.com and tell me what you notice.

*Institute of HeartMath, Building Personal Resilience