Managing our personal energy is our job, not anyone else's. We are responsible for everything that we think, say, and do. There's no way around it. And as much as we'd like to blame our stress on someone or something else, we must come to terms with the reality that we alone have invited that stress into our lives. We somehow agreed to it, either consciously or unconsciously.
When we live our lives on auto-pilot, we get lazy. We say yes when we mean no. We say no when we mean yes. We act without thinking. We think without acting. We don't set healthy boundaries. We take things for granted. Suddenly two plus two equals seventeen, and we are left reeling under the pressure we've placed upon ourselves...all because we weren't mindful.
When we learn to manage our personal energy, we reclaim our power and our lives. Here's how:
Create a list of things that give you energy. All too often we engage in activities that deplete our energy. The focus here is to embrace activities that increase your energy and make you feel better. Take a walk, call a loved one, sing, meditate. It could be anything. These little things will feel like luxuries. Keep your list available so that you can refer to it whenever you begin feeling overwhelmed.
Chunk your time into manageable segments. Rearrange your day so that you are working in blocks of time, not straight through. After every 90 to 120 minutes, take a break and do something from your list of energy-boosting activities. This allows you to relax and recover, and it gives the brain a much-needed break so that it can recuperate.
Practice mindfulness. Stay focused on one activity at a time. This means NO multitasking during your breaks since your breaks are meant for your energy-building activities.
Set healthy boundaries. Say no when you mean no. Say yes when you mean yes. Don't agree to added responsibility if you can't devote the time and energy. Think carefully about taking on additional tasks. Having no boundaries leaves one open to exploitation. Assert yourself if you must, but do so respectfully.
We can counteract the effects of stress by consciously making decisions and performing activities that energize us. When we feel good, we perform better. And in so doing, the structure of our brain actually changes; new neural pathways form as we continually take in good things, making it easier to feel good in the future.