What's draining your emotional battery?
Spring is finally kicking into gear up here. All the blooming and sprouting going on provides an extra oomph of inspiration and motivation for all manner of seasonal maintenance and improvement projects, for the home and for our minds, bodies, and spirits. It's a perfect time to do a personal energy assessment to identify and clear out any patterns and behaviors that might be sapping our energy.
Last year around tax day I wrote about the concept of the daily energy budget, based on Caroline Myss's work. I thought I'd revisit this topic and take a closer look at ways to free up the energy needed for those improvements in your health and well-being you're itching to make.
Our Emotional/Spiritual Batteries
Myss uses the metaphor of a budget to describe the amount of energy we have for each day's demands. Another way to think about it is like a battery. We charge up our battery over night, and then during the day we drain it bit by bit. Certain activities use up a lot of charge, others less, and sometimes we have an opportunity to add to the charge.
To increase our physical energy we eat and sleep and exercise. To increase our emotional/spiritual energy, we need meditation, inspiration, and connection. How do we know when our emotional/spiritual battery needs charging? When we're feeling irritable, low, anxious, and unsettled. Some of the biggest spirit-battery-draining activities we engage in run constantly in the background of our minds, like apps we forget to close:
+ judging others and ourselves
+ wallowing in blame or regret
+ obsessing about appearances
+ worrying about things we can't control
Modern life provides endless opportunities to indulge in each of those tendencies, and many of us do so without realizing that every time we start to obsess about something insignificant we're draining our charge. Even just reading that list makes me feel grouchy and low.
Fortunately there are ways to counteract these draining activities and recharge our spiritual/emotional energy.
In addition to meditating and working to access inspiration and foster connection -- I wrote about some relevant practices here, here, and here -- we can perform simple acts of "grace," as Myss defines them:
+ generosity towards ourselves and others
How different does it feel even just to read those words? Light, hopeful, buoyant, expansive.
These acts can be very simple and require little to no effort or planning, and yet they pay incredible dividends. The next time you find yourself feeling irritable, try something on this list and see how quickly you can shift your energy. Remember, for example, when you're in a state of gratitude you can't feel anxious, depressed, angry, ashamed, or judgmental -- it's a win-win-win investment to cultivate the practice.
Evening Energy Accounting
A good time to assess your spiritual/emotional battery is before going to bed. Look back over your day and consider the interactions you had with people, the "work" you accomplished, where you focused your time and energy, and how those things made you feel at the time and now as you review your day. Here are some questions that Myss suggests asking yourself before bed (part of her in-depth evening meditation):
+ Did I speak with honesty and integrity to myself and others?
+ Was I judgmental or critical of myself or others, or did I extend kindness and compassion?
+ Did I invest my energy wisely? Were there investments I should or shouldn't have made?
+ Did I make choices that drained my energy?
+ Did I act according to my personal honor code?
+ Did I take care of my physical body?
Make note of how you feel after asking these questions. Where you feel light and expansive, set an intention to continue investing your energy in those actions and choices. Where you feel drained and depleted, send forgiveness to yourself and anyone else impacted, and summon gratitude for the opportunity to do better tomorrow. When you wake up in the morning, take a moment to notice how you're feeling about the day ahead. Clearer, lighter, and more charged up for the day? I'd love to hear how it goes!