Have you ever thought about what gives you energy and what drains your energy? I hadn’t thought about my energy levels until someone brought it to my awareness. As I started to notice my energy levels, I realised that a lot of my day was filled with things that were draining my energy and leaving me emotionally depleted.
When our energy levels are frequently on the low side, it can become harder to maintain perspective, take decisions, feel motivated and empowered to make changes, and act on our needs. It can become hard to enjoy the good moments and to find the energy to do small things that we know can help.
Through this post, I want to share how we can adjust our energy levels. By getting to know more about our body and how our energy shifts, we can invest in doing more things that retain and boost our energy. Creating more energy-enhancing moments when we can, not only feels good but can also fuel us to deal with hard moments and to achieve our goals.
Identify Your Triggers
A helpful starting point is to understand what triggers changes in our energy levels. We may experience external triggers (e.g. activities, people, places, foods, and hobbies) and internal triggers (e.g. our mindset, posture, behaviour) that increase or decrease our energy levels.
Here are some of my own energy-draining and -enhancing patterns I have become aware of:
- Scrolling on social media is a distraction from uncomfortable feelings, though it quickly leaves me feeling depleted as my mind starts to negatively compare myself to others.
- Being around certain people feels fulfilling and nourishing; however, spending too much time around certain groups feels effortful and leaves me agitated.
- Watching TV restores my energy and is relaxing. However, too much screen time leaves me restless and fed up.
- Holding my body in a stooped posture leaves me feeling flat and shifting my body to an open and stronger posture fills me with more energy and motivation.
What drains and enhances your energy? Understanding this requires that we slow down and notice the impact of different activities, behaviours, and interactions on our emotions, mental state, and body throughout. It can feel empowering to identify our triggers because this is the first step towards changing something about it.
Notice Signs of Energy Shifts in Your Body
Our body is full of valuable clues that show us that things are depleting us or fuelling us. Throughout your day, look inwards and notice with curiosity changes in your body.
For example, I notice that when I push myself to keep working even though I am tired, I start to feel tense in my shoulders and strained in my chest. These sensations and changes in my body are telling me that my threat system is on and something is not working for me.
When I say "no" to extra work, listen to some music, or detox from my phone, I notice my chest filling up with warmth and openness in my body rather than a constriction. This feels energy-enhancing to me. Take time to connect with your body, it may have a lot of wisdom to offer you.
Do More of What Fuels Your Energy
If our energy levels matter to us, then we can learn to invest in the things that give us energy. This may require that we protect time for and prioritise energy-enhancing things.
The aim here is not to cling to being in an energy-enhanced state all the time. This is not possible and it is potentially not healthy. We also need to be realistic because we may be dealing with life circumstances and responsibilities that we cannot avoid and which in their nature may be energy draining.
Work With Your Blocks
It is common to come across blocks and resistances when trying to do more of what works and feels good to us. Our mind may judge this as a selfish act and trigger feelings of shame. Some of us also are not aware of our needs because we put others’ needs first.
Our energy-draining behaviour patterns can also become habitual and difficult to break. We may have other demands and responsibilities that make it feel impossible to have space to think about ourselves.
These blocks are a natural part of the process of trying something new and we can expect them to show up. When they do, it is a great opportunity to work through them on your own or with the help of a trusted individual.
Do Less of What Drains Your Energy
When it is possible and within our control to do, we can choose to do less of the things that we know are making us feel worse. We can do this by setting boundaries around and resisting the urge to engage in old energy-draining habits, interactions, and behaviours.
The point here isn’t to avoid all energy-draining things—again, this is not necessarily possible or healthy. There are things we have to do, people we have to face, and responsibilities to fulfil, even if they tire us. But we need to understand what energy-draining things we have to carry on with and be wise about which ones we can let go of.
Soak Up the Reward
Soak up the reward and good feelings that come with having more activities, people, and habits that are energy-enhancing for you. Once you soak it up, then do it again and get yourself well-versed and practiced in investing in what gives you fuel and emotional nourishment.
If it is tricky to figure out what gives and takes away your energy, then do not struggle alone. Talk about this with people in your life or mental health professionals. Investing energy in enhancing your energy is a worthwhile endeavour.