What Can I Do to Replenish My Energy?

 

Why Do We Feel So Run Down This Time of Year?

 

With the holiday season in full swing, our days are filled with delicious foods and entertainments galore.  Yet we can be easily overwhelmed with expanding shopping lists and packed calendars.  It’s no wonder so many of us find ourselves feeling physically run down at this time of year.

Instead of sinking into a post-event collapse on New Year’s Day, I invite you to take the time to assess and renew your energy levels now.

 

How Do I Know When to Refuel?

 

The initial step in replenishing our energy is sometimes the hardest, but it’s a habit that can be cultivated.  So often the first acknowledgement of decreased reserves is a complete physical or emotional breakdown.  I’ll admit to a mini-meltdown over a botched wrapping job on one high-stress Christmas Eve.   

Join me in this moment, setting aside your never-ending busyness to pause and practice the best skill for combatting holiday stress—Noticing.

 

How are you approaching the holidays?  

  • With a sense of excitement or the whip-cracking obligations of a harsh task master? 
  • Rushing through your days as fast as you can muster? 
  • Struggling to get things done while your ToDo list grows with each passing day? 
  • Are you pushing yourself to the edge of your limits?

 

Take a deep breath.  

How about a few more…  Then tune in to how your body feels:

  • Where are you carrying tension? 
  • Are your muscles sore and tight?

 

Notice the thoughts spinning through your mind.  

  • Is there a stream of constant worries about the future? 
  • An endless string of commitments looping through your head? 
  • Feelings of stress, anxiety, or other tensions?

 

Consider your emotional/spiritual energy too.  

  • In the last week have you taken any short breaks (15 minutes or so) to pause and enjoy the present moment? 
  • What about allowing yourself to experience your emotions?
  • Have you set aside any longer stretches of time to sink into an activity that brings you joy? 
  • If not, how does it feel to be out of touch with these basic needs? 

So often the first signals of depletion are whispers, so if we don’t pause regularly and listen, they can be missed altogether.

 

What Are Your Energy Drains?  

Once you’ve noticed the physical, mental, and emotional signs of impending exhaustion, you can dig down for the root causes affecting your energy.  These can vary among individuals and change from season to season, but it’s helpful to sort them into two categories: Too Much & Not Enough.

 

Places To Look For Too Much:

 

Excess Obligations: 

Are you in constant contact with other people, always making yourself available to someone else instead of tending to your own needs?  Evaluate your commitments and find tasks you can delegate or let go of entirely.

 

Unrealistic Expectations: 

Do you strive for perfectionism across all areas of your life, yet feel overwhelmed and unworthy whenever you fall short?  We’re all human, with finite resources as well as a need to rest and recharge.  Simplify your striving by creating a set of priorities to remind you where your energy can have the most impact.  

 

Clutter:

Are you surrounded by visual, auditory, or other stimuli that overwhelm your ability to center and ground yourself in the tasks at hand?  Our attention can be pulled in so many directions, not only by piles of stuff and constant noise, but also by the mental clutter of worry, anxiety, or past resentments.  Consider creating a relaxing, visually serene space where you can escape to appreciate the always peaceful, present moment.  

 

Places To Look For Not Enough

 

Time in your day: 

Is your calendar overrun with appointments, errands, and social obligations?  We tend to over-pack our holidays under the guise of seasonal fun, but then forget to leave enough time to relax, rest, and enjoy ourselves.  Pencil in some white space on your agenda and resist the urge to fill it with plans…just choose something spontaneously when the moment arrives.

 

Deep connection:

Do you move through the holidays surrounded by people at gatherings and events, only to experience an aching loneliness at the end of the day?  We have more interactions with people now than ever before, through email, social media, and news feed commentaries, but when was the last time you had a moment of true connection—feeling totally engaged—with another person?  Allow time for a conversation with someone that fills you up instead of merely passes the time.

 

Meaning: 

Do you find yourself going through the motions of celebrating the holidays without any reflection on what they mean for you personally?  Many of us fall into a routine this time of year (sending cards, shopping, gifting, etc…), and the true holiday spirit gets lost in the hubbub.  Clarifying your intentions will keep the focus on what matters beyond the surface sparkle…whether it’s a deepened spirituality, a commitment to gratitude and helping others, or the sense of wonder and love that fills your heart this time of year.  

 

 

What Replenishes Your Energy?

Just as energy drains are unique to an individual, each of us must also discover the best way to fill our tanks going forward.  In order to keep from saying “Bah Humbug!” in the middle of the holiday season, you must refuel both the inner and outer aspects of your energy resources.

 

Our Inner Energy

Replenish Your Inner Energy Stores

Not reserved for introverts, our inner energy keeps us grounded and in connection with our own feelings and desires.  What replenishes you from within varies from person to person, but here are a few ideas worth a try:

  • Gratitude: It’s easier to be vibrantly alive when you remind yourself of what’s truly important and give thanks for what you already have.
  • Nature: Whether its snow-covered fields or palm trees wrapped in twinkling lights, appreciating the natural world in all its glory puts our lives in perspective.
  • Prayer: If you follow a particular faith or simply surrender your limitations to an unknowable universe, cultivating reverence is an intimate, renewing resource.
  • Creativity: Whatever sparks joy in your heart…art, music, dance, poetry, theatre, prose, movement, meditation, daydreaming, or any other opportunity to create will do wonders for your energy.
  • Guilt-Free Leisure: Don’t forget the healing power of simple pleasures.  I love to page through magazines, daydream about tiny house plans, or sit and slowly sip a cup of hot tea.  These are the things we might normally call “time wasters,” but in reality they create the space we require to re-fuel our busy lives.

 

Our Outer Energy

You’ve probably heard these suggestions before…that’s because these keystone habits really do work to boost energy levels.  Take a minute to read them through carefully, paying attention to your physical and emotional responses.  Which of these methods works the best for you?

 

What you take in: 

Replenish Your Energy with What You Take In

This covers it all—from staying hydrated; balancing holiday indulgences with fresh, whole foods; vitamins or supplements as needed; moderating your caffeine and alcohol intake; as well as taking appropriate breaks from social media, news outlets, and other screen-based past-times.  

 

Physical Mobility:

Replenish Your Energy through movement

There’s a tendency for the new year to inspire all sorts of high intensity efforts, but replenishing your energy during a bustling holiday season requires a different focus.  Try moving your body through some restful and relaxing activities:  

  • A slow walk (not last minute mad dashes through the mall, but something outdoors, in the crispness of nature).
  • Breath-based movement, such as gentle yoga styles, Tai Chi, or Qi Gong that will reconnect you with your body.  
  • Easy stretches to start and end your day, using a foam roller or therapy ball as needed.
  • Dance—a formal event, an instructed class, or even twirling around the kitchen with your family.  

 

Rest:

Replenish-your-energy-through-rest

This means getting enough sleep at night, or sneaking in a nap when possible.  Don’t forget about leisure during your waking hours though…create balance by leaving space for downtime too.  Consider cultivating the practice of Time Vigilance—choosing how you spend your time wisely, and then fully committing yourself to where (and to whom) you give your attention.

 

Connection and Relationships:

Renew-your-energy

No matter how independent or introverted one might be, we all replenish our energy when we engage in quality time with the people we care about.  It can be easy to think we’re getting plenty of “social time” when in fact, our activities may revolve around goals or achievements.  When was the last time you spent time with someone you love, just BE-ing instead of DO-ing?  Look for opportunities where the focus can be strictly on sharing time and connecting with each other rather than checking off an obligatory box.

 

How Can You Find Make Time to Re-Fuel?  

 

I don’t recall the first time I heard the old adage that you’ll never find time, you have to make it.  I always assumed whoever said that had never looked at my calendar and ToDo list.  It never seemed possible to squeeze one more thing in.

But a careful evaluation of how you’re spending your time is a great way to discover where your energy is flowing…and whether it’s being drained or renewed.  After years of over-scheduling, burnout, and fatigue, I’ve learned the only way to make time for replenishing my energy is by learning to say No to something else.  

That’s a huge success for someone like me who’s tried every list-making app on the market and has 10+ calendars to coordinate my family, my job, and my personal goals.  Since we’re deep into this holiday season, the gentlest step is to start small.  

For now, practice pausing at least once in your day to check-in on your vitality and stamina. 

Without worrying about all the things still left to do, take a slow breath and turn your focus inward.  

Notice how full your energy reserves are—physically, mentally, and emotionally.  

Then ask yourself the following three questions:

  • How am I feeling right now? 
  • Are my current thoughts or actions contributing to a sense of vibrant energy?
  • What would help me feel more energized and balanced in the next hour?

You might be stuck in a meeting at work, or jostling your way through crowds at the mall, but noticing the level of your energy reserves is your Small Step assignment for this week.  

From there, pick something from the suggestions of inner/outer energy resources to fill you up and keep you going this holiday season.  

I keep my energy replenished with several difference strategies: maintaining one room clear of clutter yet adorned with Christmas decorations; connecting with my husband and kids over an evening fire and board game; eating well to avoid sugar and its energy spikes-n-crashes; as well as journaling about my gratitude for life and the meaning I want to bring to the holidays.  

Checking in frequently reminds me to get outside (even if just briefly) for the crisp winter air, to savor the scents of seasonal candles, to appreciate the holiday music and decor when I’m out, and to greet everyone I meet with a warm smile and best wishes for this magical time of year.  

 

How about you?  What are the big and little ways you make time to replenish your energy during the holidays?

2 COMMENTS

  1. Ginny | 21st Dec 18

    Right at this moment I am replenishing myself by making the time to enjoy this blog. So many great ideas—Thanks Christine

    • Christine | 21st Dec 18

      I hope you find the idea that speaks to you most in this moment. For me, today is all about rest…the shopping is done, school is out, and it’s time to sit with a hot cup of tea and just be present with my family.

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