By Scott Westerman
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” Aristotle
“If people around you aren’t going anywhere, if their dreams are no bigger than hanging out on the corner, or if they’re dragging you down, get rid of them. Negative people can sap your energy so fast, and they can take your dreams from you, too.” That’s MSU’s Earvin Johnson talking about energy suckers.
You know the type, the drama queens and complainer kings, those high maintenance people in your life who are quick to criticize and slow to act, first to spread gossip and last to take personal accountability. Energy suckers see every day as a bad day. The best they can do when you ask how it’s going is to say, “It’s going”. The need endless financial and emotional support and are insensitive to everybody else.
Who are the energy suckers in your life? There’s an easy test. What people make you cringe when you get a text message or email from them? Who make you instinctively press the “forward to voice mail” button when their number pops up on your caller ID? Who makes your chest tighten whenever they enter a room and you exhale whenever they leave?
These are the people Phylameana Lila Desey calls “psychic vampires”. “They are not bad people,” she writes, “Most of them are not aware on a conscious level that they are doing what they are doing. Still, their unknowing actions can play havoc…The harm in a psychic attack is that there is no fair exchange of energy and therefore one feels depleted while the other becomes energized.”
Our personal energy is the true coin of the realm. It’s a limited resource and we have to invest it carefully. While energy suckers are always a part of the world we inhabit, how we deal with them will impact both our productivity and our happiness.
We’ve all heard the classic advice, change the things you can change, accept the things you can’t change. There’s a third alternative that applies to energy suckers:
Remove yourself from the unacceptable.
We are judged by the company we keep and, invariably, that company can influence who we are. So minimize the time with the negative people in your life.
If you find yourself stuck in an interaction with an energy sucker, recognize the moments when that person is in vampire mode and don’t give up your power. I once heard a co-worker tell an energy sucker, “I’m sorry that you feel the way you do, but I can’t be dragged into this.”
This stunned the vampire, who immediately went into guilt-trip mode. “So what you’re saying is that you won’t help me?”
My co-worker responded gently but firmly, “You have to help yourself.”
Sounds pretty direct, and it is. But as “Road Less Traveled” author M. Scott Peck once wrote, “The only way to stop a behavior is to stop it.”
The truth is, we all need the benefit of someone else’s energy from time to time. That’s normal. And that’s what friends are for. In healthy relationships one and one makes three where energy is concerned. Even if you’re feeling down, a little time with that other person make you both feel stronger.
And if you’ve ever been in a room with a group of high energy people who are working on a problem together, the obstacles have a way of becoming manageable, and even if you only make a modicum of progress, everybody walks away feeling great.
Looking for ways to increase your personal energy? Here is a bunch from the Organicasm website:
Daily habits can be a leech on your energy, so take these steps to change your habits for the better.
- Practice deep breathing: Try breathing with your abdominal muscles to improve your energy.
- Give yourself a more flexible schedule: Work on tasks when they feel appropriate to your energy level, or pick up something else to do.
- Turn on the lights: When you wake up in the morning, turn on all of the lights to trick your body out of bed.
- Always eat breakfast: Breakfast will give your body the fuel jumpstart that it needs.
- Schedule down time: Regularly give yourself time to recharge and relax.
- Spend your energy wisely: Know when your energetic moments are, and don’t waste them on trivial actions.
- Stay organized: Avoid losing energy by keeping everything in its systematic place.
- Act like you have energy: Trick yourself into feeling more energetic by moving faster, like pacing while you talk on the phone or putting more energy into your voice.
- Keep a manageable, even pace: Manage your time and energy more efficiently to avoid burnout.
- Take up a hobby: Make a habit of nurturing a hobby, and you’ll always have something energizing to look forward to.
- Practice altruism: By doing good work, you’ll help your energy with enhanced happiness, satisfaction, and health.
- Eat 3 meals a day: Give yourself lasting energy by eating on a regular schedule.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking deprives you of oxygen, which is necessary for energy.
Take on these exercise strategies for lots of added energy.
- Stretch: Maintain a good blow flow to your brain and the rest of your body by practicing stretches daily.
- Exercise in the morning: Shake off sleepiness and snap out of your grogginess with a bit of exercise in the morning.
- Find the right balance of exercise: Don’t exercise too much or too little-either way can cause you to lose energy.
- Exercise on a gradual, steady basis: Ease into exercise, and then keep it up. You should aim to be active for 20 to 30 minutes each day.
- Play a competitive sport: By playing a sport that requires thought, you’ll spark your mental energy.
- Go for a walk after lunch: Shake off post-lunch sluggishness with a short energy boosting walk.
We all know that sleep is essential to energy, but are you getting the best rest possible? Take these steps to make sure.
- Sleep according to the sun: Sleep hormones are linked to natural light exposure, so you’ll get better rest if you do most of your sleeping when the sun is down.
- Establish a sleep ritual: Improve the quality of your sleep with a ritual such as book-reading before going to bed, and you’ll enjoy more energy in your waking hours.
- Kick your animals out of bed: Pets can hog the bed, make noise, and otherwise disturb your sleep, so you’re better off giving them their own separate place for rest.
- Wake up without an alarm clock: Go to sleep early enough so that your body can wake up naturally when you’ve gotten enough sleep.
- Take a nap: An afternoon nap can be refreshing, and won’t interfere with regular sleep patterns if you do it early enough.
- Turn off the lights: Keep your bedroom as dark as possible to ensure your sleep hormones stay on track.
- Avoid alcohol before bed: Alcohol may put you to sleep, but it makes for a lesser quality rest.
Follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the proper fuel for your energy.
- Decrease sugar consumption: Sugar will cause fluctuations in energy that can leave you feeling burnt out.
- Increase your iron intake: An iron deficiency can cause chronic fatigue, so make sure you’re getting enough.
- Eat a snack if necessary: Keep your blood sugar levels consistent with snacks throughout the day.
- Eat smaller meals more often: By eating smaller, more frequent meals, you’ll avoid the groggy feeling that comes with eating large meals.
- Drink enough water: Don’t leave your body dehydrated-drink enough water so that your body doesn’t need to conserve resources and zap your energy.
- Eat “brain food”: Eat healthy fats like those found in fish and green, leafy vegetables to increase your brain power and energy.
- Eat more protein: Protein offers a great way to combat fatigue.
- Eat whole grains: Whole grains have complex carbohydrates that take a while to break down, providing you with energy that lasts.
- Drink juice: Energy from juice separated from the pulp has been found to provide lots of energy.
- Cut down on coffee: Although coffee can give you a rush of energy, in the end it will cause fatigue. Coffee does not have to be eliminated, but you probably shouldn’t drink more than one cup a day.
- Eat your largest meal at lunch: Instead of eating a large meal for dinner, do it at lunch while your digestion is more active.
- Eat lots of fiber: Fiber’s time-release effect will help give you sustained energy.
Take these steps to make sure you’re in top-notch health for lots of energy.
- Check for allergies: Decreased energy levels could be due to an intolerance or allergy, so try eliminating a specific food for a few weeks to see if you have any improvement, or see a doctor for a full allergy screening.
- Take supplements if necessary: If you don’t get enough vitamins, consider taking supplements to cover deficiencies.
- Lose weight: Carrying around extra weight takes a toll on your body and energy, so take off a few pounds to get more energy.
- Try yoga: Yoga poses like the Breath of Fire can energize your body.
- Take a hot and cold shower: Take a shower in which you alternate between hot and cold water to get energized.
- Get a massage: A massage will help stimulate blood flow and relieve tension. You might even catch a refreshing nap at the same time.
- Get your thyroid checked out: It’s been suggested that between 70 and 90 percent of Americans have an imbalance in this energy-regulating gland.
- Ask your doctor about fatigue: Low energy can be brought on by a number of different conditions, like iron imbalances and low thyroid function.
Make these small changes in your environment to improve your energy level.
- Listen to energetic music: Find music that motivates you and wakes you up for an energy boost.
- Clean up: Clear your clutter both physically and emotionally, and you’ll feel better.
- Go outside: Take advantage of sunshine and fresh air for some energy.
- Put a fresh plant on your desk: By placing a plant on your desk, you’ll increase energy-bearing oxygen.
- Listen to classical music: Classical music will stimulate your mind while relaxing you at the same time.
These strategies will help you clear your mind and improve your energy.
- Have something to look forward to: Having something to look forward to is a great motivator.
- Practice meditation: Get your worries off your back for a while, and you’ll come back more refreshed.
- Talk to an energetic friend: Gain energy by interacting with an upbeat friend.
- Start your day with active work: Get started with something that requires you to use your brainpower instead of doing passive activities that will allow you to stay drowsy.
- Wear something nice: Put on something you love to shake off the blahs.
- Discuss something that interests you: Get your mind firing on all cylinders by talking about something you feel passionate about.
- Let loose: Schedule time for leisure so that you’ll have an emotional outlet.
- Practice visualization: Try imaginging a place or feeling that gives you energy, even if you can’t experience it at the moment.
- Eliminate worry: Get the monkey off your back by taking action, making decisions, and dealing with problems right away.
- Let it out: Find an outlet for your feelings so that they can’t drain your emotional energy.
- Practice stress reduction: Use stress-busting techniques like deep breathing or meditation to take a load off and improve your energy.
- Get things done: Do you have a task that’s weighing heavily on your mind? Just do it, and get the monkey off your back.
These are just a few more helpful strategies for increasing your energy level.
- Give up on pleasing people: Don’t spend your time and energy making others happy-do what you want to do.
- Go with the flow: Accept that you’re not always going to feel your best, and learn to take advantage of the times when your energy is higher.
- Fix your squeaky wheel: Upgrade your computer that can’t keep up, or replace your dishwasher that requires you to spend time washing before and after.
Have a great week!
Feedback welcome to email@example.com or @MSUScottW on Twitter.
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