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.
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 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?
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?
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?
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?
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?