Posts tagged with “self care”

What Gives You Energy?

Saturday, 15 August, 2009

balanced rocksI’ve really noticed this summer just how overwhelmingly busy a time of year it is. Being from a place where it is summer about 8 months of the year and the rest is really mild compared to a lot of other place,  you never feel like you have a limited time to get out and enjoy it. After such an unseasonal winter in Vancouver, too, I think people are even more eager to get out and maximise on the sunshine! Sometimes, though, it can feel like you barely have a minute to yourself because you are rushing off on holiday or are fitting in a dozen different things in between work and often you end up feeling less relaxed and more stressed, despite your aim being the opposite.

Something that is really important is being self aware enough to identify your patterns of behaviour. Recently, after two great long weekends away and being super busy with teaching and writing projects, I started feeling rather overwhelmed and stressed. I’ve hit these patches before but this time I was quickly able to look at it and say “what is missing?” and I knew right away that I was feeling down because I had slipped out of my exercise routine. What is so helpful about knowing your own patterns is that you can easily identify what is wrong, and therefore you can easily remedy the situation. After a visit to the gym this morning, I feel more energised and focused, and am inspired to get back on track. It got me thinking, though, about energy and happiness, and what things we can do in our lives to make sure we are energised and living the life we want.


Being busy is great, but sometimes people use “busyness” as a way to avoid having to be alone, or having to really work out what makes them feel happy and fulfilled. They feel that if they are constantly occupied, then their life is rich, but sometimes they are busy just for the sake of it and they get depressed and end up feeling lonely amidst the crowd. Like anything, it becomes an act of balance.

 I know that when I am engaged in activities that I really enjoy and that I have chosen to do (not out of obligation but out of desire), I feel so energised and content. It may be reading, gardening, taking a walk, or sitting in a coffee shop scribbling down my thoughts, but it is my date with me, and it feels good. However, sitting in front of the TV for hours, or the computer for hours may keep me “busy”, but sometimes it ends up feeling empty and unfulfilling. With so many of us doing jobs that bind us to the computer these days, something that is so important is remembering to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Trying new things is also a great way to challenge yourself, expand your circle of friends and push your limits, but again, if you are doing this for the sake of it, or because you feel pressured by someone or that it projects the “right” image of who you want to be perceived as, then you are not being authentic and at the end of it, you feel drained and depressed.


Something that always energises me is spending time with people. However, I learned a long time ago that there can be people in your life that actually end up draining you rather than energising you, and it is not worth hanging on to these friends for “old time’s sake” if you feel depleted after spending time with them. The same can be said with clients. Some clients are not worth keeping. Yes, you may want the business or need the money, but when you weigh up time and energy spent on the client, is their pay cheque really worth it? You could spend that energy pursuing new clients that you can work easily and synergistically with, rather than keeping an existing, draining client happy. We often are scared to let go of what we know, but sometimes as scary as something, or someone, new can be, the rewards can be greater.

Many people, usually women, undervalue themselves and bend over backwards for others, and forget to look after themselves. Heather White of 2020 Communications and GhostCEO uses a great analogy – that of the oxygen masks on an aeroplane. What do they tell you to do when the cabin loses pressure and the masks drop? You put your OWN mask on first, and then help children, the elderly etc. Why? Because if you don’t look after yourself first, you will be unable to help others. A valuable lesson.

Focus on what brings you energy in your life – the types of people, the places, the activities. Think about what makes you feel balanced, or what makes you feel off centre and think about how you can remedy the situation.

Sometimes it can be as simple as calling up a friend, going for a walk on the beach or writing a long overdue blog post.