I have been thinking a lot about the concept of being energetically drained and how to combat that feeling by “energetic refueling” as I call it. I am not speaking about energy in the way of “I just completed a marathon and I am exhausted.” In fact many of those people feel physically drained, but energetically full. I am talking about the things that deplete our energy body and leave us feeling down. Many of us are aware of the things that drain us; difficult people (aka energy vampires), a job that leaves us feeling unfulfilled, general burn out from doing too much, the list can go on and on.
I find many people are SOOO quick to make suggestions like, “just leave your job!” or “take more time for yourself” or one that I hear the most “let go of the things that no longer serve you.” HAHA OKAY! Thanks so much for the suggestions aka thanks for implying that walking away is my only option! That is all easier said than done, right? And sometimes it’s so frustrating to hear this advice from others who don’t know the inner workings of your life. This is especially difficult to hear when you are already feeling drained….how are you supposed to muster the strength to do a life overhaul when you are stuck in the vortex of complete energy drain? How do you just up and leave a job that pays your bills and puts food on your table? How do you cut off a friend who is going through a difficult time, even though you have so much love for them? Sometimes it's not about walking away from something and about learning how to work with it and find more balance in your life.
I want to make it VERY CLEAR that I am not talking about situations and people who are downright unhealthy for you — if you are in that type of situation, I agree, the best thing to do is step away.
But sometimes, we don’t know what is draining us, and a big part of figuring that out might be to do some inner work (like meditation), reflection (journaling) or speak to someone about it (councilor, coach, therapist, teacher/mentor, friend, etc.) Because many of us can agree that when you are too close to a situation, it can be hard to distinguish what is going on, what needs to change and how to best set boundaries. And more importantly, to understand that even if things are not "bad" they can still drain us...and that's when we need to not only evaluate what is going on, but recalibrate, re-connect and re-charge.
I will be the first person to say it, sometimes I feel this way from being a mom. There are days that are wonderful and then those where I feel like a gross, wet rag and find myself saying out loud multiple times a day, “what the actual F*uck!” But I love my child and my role as a mother and just because I feel drained sometimes, I’m not about to say “oh, having a kid no longer serves me, I am moving to Paris, bye! (even though somedays I want to)” But when I feel like this, I realize that I've allowed things to get out of hand and it's time to energetically refuel.
So now you might be asking, okay great, well how do I do this? I go to sleep at 8pm, I take baths! But energetic refueling is not exactly the same thing as self care. It’s not passive. Energetic refueling is active. It’s not disconnecting, it’s reconnecting.
Energetic refueling requires you to engage in things that make you feel fulfilled. This concept was groundbreaking for me. And the energetic refueling process is truly unique for everyone. Something that makes me feel great, might be something another person hates…so it is about discovering what fills you up, and then doing it. It’s about finding what makes you feel connected and then finding the time to mindfully do it.
Here is how to start the energetic refueling process.
Make a list of the things that make you happy or relaxed, the things that leave you feeling good. For example, dinner with close friends, a day alone at the beach, gardening, walking the dog, a hot shower and face mask, the list can go on and on and on….everyone is different so everyone’s list is going to be different. Write the list down!
Begin to take note of how you are feeling in different places/experiences/interactions. Learn to recognize the signs of becoming drained. The more you recognize this feeling, the more you will be able to catch it as it is sneaking up on you. Most of us don’t realize that smaller individual situations are what eventually lead us to the feeling of battery empty mode. The trick in maintaining balance is to notice when you are getting drained and then act to refuel.
One of the biggest things to pay attention to is the sensations in your body. If you are speaking to someone or in a particular place, take notice, how does your body feel? Are your arms crossed? Are you tense? Are your hands/jaw clenched? Are you experiencing physical manifestations of stress and dis-ease? If so, you are draining. If you are engaged in a situation and feeling relaxed, shoulders down, smile on your face, feeling open/peaceful, you are probably refueling. Take note of what situations and people make you feel that way.
Next, be intentional. Carve out time to refuel. Designate a period of time just for this purpose, this can be 5 min or 5 days, and as frequently or infrequently as you need it to be. The goal is to get in touch with yourself and know the cues of feeling depleted and then actively do the things that make you feel fulfilled, bring you peace and joy and allow you to feel reconnection to a higher energy level.
Just like you fill up your gas tank or plug in your computer or iPhone - FILL YOURSELF UP/ PLUG YOURSELF IN. This can be something as small as getting coffee with a loved one, to having a fun night out with close friends or going on a vacation. It is about finding the things that make you feel full and making it a priority to work those things into your life.
This process is about nourishing your soul. Allowing yourself to fill up. This is not about making other people happy or being inclusive, or fitting something in because you can. It is about being intentional, making yourself a priority and getting to know yourself better. It’s about balance. We can’t eliminate all uncomfortable/unfortunate situations from our life. But we can take time to make ourselves a priority and get to know what fills our battery, and then do it.
If you need help navigating this process, I am happy to chat more about it!