The topic of “energy” has been following me around for sometime now, whether it’s managing my own energetic state or guiding my teammates through their personal, ever changing, environments, it’s a thing and it’s time we take notice.
The concept of energy when it comes to our body can be a little elusive, subjective and even a little woo woo. One thing science agrees on is that we all are energy. If you break us down to our simplest parts, smaller than our cells even, we are atoms and molecules that are comprised of energy in its purest form. Eastern philosophy calls it our “chi” which represents radiance and vitality in life, and health and order in our bodies. Chi is the essence of who we are.
We don’t need to understand the concept of “energy” or “chi” to recognize that there are times throughout our days, weeks and lives in which our energy is “higher” than others, where life seems easy, we do things with ease and feel great about it. And, on the contrary, there are moments when we feel drained, where it takes effort to get through the day.
So how do we know where our level is? It’s indicated by our emotions. Think of emotion like E-motion or emotion = energy in motion. Is the emotion you’re feeling right now one of happiness, joy, contentment? These are healthy and sustainable long term. Or are they more like frustration, irritation, anger? All helpful in certain situations but harmful long term. Feeling our emotions is a beautiful indicator of our energy level.
Let’s take a look at the culprits that can cause our energy to dip or even to deflate throughout our day:
The food you eat. Let’s start with the obvious, food is fuel and not all fuels are created equal. The more processed, the harder our body has to work to digest and therefore, the more energy it takes away from us. Not to mention that these foods are less nutrient dense so while they take a lot of energy to break down, they don’t give back the proper nutrients needed to thrive. This is number one for me because it’s what I find the most difficult to follow, being a “dessert fiend”. Even I have to admit there’s a huge difference in my energy levels the day I eat my veggies and avoid the chocolate than those days when I fuel up on simple carbs and have multiple “sugar crashes”.
Water. Yup, another obvious one but how many take it seriously? Our bodies are approximately comprised of 60% water, our heart and brain being 73%, so it’s easy to recognize why it second only to air in our survival. It always helps me to remember from grade 6 science class that water is an excellent conductor of electricity so if our cells, who are pure energy, don’t have its number one conductor, how can they do their job properly? Happy healthy cells = happy healthy humans. So if you find yourself yawning or tired, go grab a glass of H2O and see how fast you perk up.
Toxins. There are so many toxins in our environment on a regular basis and I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty here (besides, it’s not my expertise), instead I’m going to stick to those that are more obvious, drugs and alcohol. The majority of us adults have had a hangover or two and if we spend a moment to bring back that feeling 🤢, it doesn’t take a health professional to recognize how they can affect our energy. As an added bonus, they also take extra water to process so we end up dehydrated as a result of a night of drinks or, if you’re Canadian, an edible or two, which means they are double the energy thief.
Physical activity. Another variable that most of us are aware of. It’s crazy to think that using energy while working out actually generates more energy for later. The thought of going for a run right now, while I sit in my comfy chair writing this, makes me feel tired but I know from experience that it will be better than a cup of Java at raising my energy. You can test this theory right now. Just take 1 min, throw on a song that pumps you up and start doing jumping jacks. When you’re finished and your heart is pumping, pay attention to your energy, 9 chances out of 10, you’re more energized now than before. So, using energy can create more energy!
Sleep. The rule of thumb is 6-8 hours is sufficient for the majority but if you’re like me and wake up throughout the night, you may be in bed for 8 hours and still not feel fully rested. There are many books and advice columns out there that help educate on how to have a good nights sleep and a common denominator in all of them is to have a wind down routine, a nightly ritual that helps your body know that it’s bed time, like no phone an hour before bed. Whatever your sleep hygiene, it’s important to note how it can affect your energy on any given day.
Nature. Getting out in the fresh air is vital for our energy. Don’t just take my word for it, the next time you’re frustrated or your energy is “off”, take a walk around the nearest park or hiking trail. You will feel your energy settle into a more peaceful state.
Your stress level. THIS! If you have an overly demanding life, whether you’re a new parent, a CEO or someone who works with the public, if you find yourself irritated or frustrated often, this is usually an indicator that you’re overly stimulated and need to decompress. It’s impossible to maintain healthy energy levels when you’re constantly in a taxing environment.
A balance of alone time and socializing. Whether you identify as an introvert or extrovert, we all need time to be alone with our thoughts and time with people we care about, it just might be in differing amounts. If this ratio is out of alignment, you may start to feel either overwhelmed or underwhelmed, and it’s a good indicator that you need to reassess how you spend your time so that you meet your energetic needs.
The words you use. This one seems a little subjective so let’s test the theory, if you were to use the word enraged vs irritated, which one do you feel affects your emotional state more? And which one is easier to move through? That’s what emotion, or energy in motion, is meant to do, MOVE! They aren’t meant to stick around but sometimes the language we use heightens a situation and keeps us stuck. Start to pay attention to the words you use to describe your emotions and see if they can be softened.
Your body language. The effectiveness of the Super(wo)man stance is definitely up for debate but what scientists do agree on is that smiling, for example, does affect our mood, even if it is slight. The mere act of smiling reduces blood pressure, lowers stress hormones, and boosts your mood. There was even a British study even found that one smile generates the same level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 bars of chocolate!!! Where my smiles at?
The people you spend time with. The people we have around us, family, friends and coworkers, all affect our mood. There is a psychological term for this called emotional contagion. We are hardwired for connection, we have what’s called mirror-neurons and these are designed to pick up on and match other people’s physiology, thus emotions spread from person to person. On top of this, our emotions have their own vibration, love being different than sadness and our vibrational field can be measured 6-9 feet away from our bodies. Because of these factors, who we spend time with greatly affects our energy. Social media influencer Tabatha Brown says it best, “Have a good day but if you can’t don’t you dare go messing up nobody else’s”.
Your thoughts. Everyone can relate to this one at some point in their lives. Psychologists call them ANTS, automatic negative thoughts which are cynical, gloomy or complaining thoughts that seem to multiply and come unsolicited from the thinker. When left to its own devices, the brain can be mischievous, hanging on to the past, worrying about your future, taking things personally, idling in resentment, worrying about what other people think…all common thoughts that zap us of our chi. It’s impossible to delete a thought or stop it from occurring again but we can practice new thought patterns that are more helpful.
What you give your attention. Your time and attention are important, especially with time being a non-renewable resource, you can’t get it back so how you spend it is arguably more valuable than what you spend your money on. What you spend time doing will tell you what is important to you, whether you mean for it to be or not. Think about your day, what did you do and for how long? How did it make you feel? For instance, social media can be a great tool for connection, inspiration and even knowledge, that’s probably how you found this blog. It can also, when not used mindfully, drain us of our mental energy. From bringing up unhelpful ANTS around comparison or simply from overstimulation, it’s been made clear over the past several years of the need to monitor these apps. Whether it’s Instagram or the people you take your lunch break with, whatever or whoever you give your attention, directly affects your life force energy.
This is not an exhaustive list of what affects our energy but it’s a darn good place to start if you want to begin being mindful of your chi. Each one of these factors will greatly affect how you feel and how you feel is, arguably, the most important aspect of life.
We often hear parents say “as long as my children are happy, that’s all that matters” and yet how many of them take this sentiment seriously in their own lives? The more full our individual cup is, the more energy we have and the greater our capacity for being of service to those we love.
There are so many reasons why it’s important to be aware of your energy and if you’re intrigued, the best place to start would be to do an “energy inventory”. Start checking in on your emotions throughout your day and how the activities and people you spend your time with affect them. And if you want strategies to help you maintain healthy energy levels throughout your day, join me January 9th, 2022 for the “protect your energy” virtual seminar, I’d love to see you there https://www.wavesociety.ca/bookings-checkout/protect-your-energy?referral=service_list_widget