Ok, so…that weird-ass sluggish January is coming to an end, and many of us are starting to feel our brains and bodies ever-so-slowly coming back to operational mode.
Below I have shared three condensed tips to help you continue to reclaim your energy, as well as to help you nurture and protect it while you move forward into whatever this next phase has in store for you. It’s kind of long, so let’s jump right in…
1) Check in with Your Body.
Something that many of us (including me) find easy to forget is the fact that your brain is literally part of your body. If your body doesn’t feel great, you can’t expect your mind to feel great either.
As you begin each day, take a moment to notice 2 things:
1) That you’re in a body. (This is weirdly easy to forget or ignore.)
2) That it has helpful information to give you. (This is amazingly easy to avoid.)
You don’t have to make a big deal about it. You can even connect it to another activity. For instance, it can be as simple as taking a few breaths and stretching a little in the shower or moving your head and neck around while you brush your teeth, or just ever-so-gently calling your awareness to your arms, legs, belly, or back as you put on each article of clothing while you get dressed.
Just this little bit of physical self-awareness goes a looooong way toward releasing tension in the body and rerouting that energy to more useful operations, such as breathing and thinking. It also helps you hear what your body is telling you. Does it need more rest, food, play, touch, etc? When you listen to your body and give it just the tiniest bit of what it needs, you will notice an uptick in your physical energy as well as your mental clarity.
If you find your brain feeling a little sluggish as you move through the day, instead of feeling frustrated or judgemental toward yourself, or angry at your stupid brain for not working the way you need it to right now, try instead to take a step back and ask your brain what it is trying to tell you about the current state of your body.
When was the last time you paused? Took a breath? Went for a walk? Got some sleep? Sipped some water? Took a long, hot shower? Ate your favorite food…and actually tasted it? Nourish your body and watch your brain start to come back online, too.
2) Notice When You Procrastinate.
Procrastination usually indicates resistance to something and resistance is a huge energy drain. When you notice that you are procrastinating, try these two things to get moving again:
1) Step back and ask your body what it needs. Simply being tired or hungry may be enough to cause us to procrastinate. Are you tense? Do you need a walk or a quick stretch? Procrastination can be your brain’s way of telling you that your body needs a little reset. I know it’s hard to step away and reset sometimes – particularly if you are under pressure or a deadline. That said, it takes waaaay more energy to maintain that state of procrastination/resistance than it does to do the work to clear it. You’ll reclaim a lot of time and energy in the long run if you step away for a few minutes to give your body what it needs.
2) Procrastination also has a strong mental/emotional component. Sometimes, you’ve gotta step back and ask yourself ‘What am I resisting and why?’ The answers can be varied, anything from ‘I’m afraid I’ll fail’ to ‘what if I look dumb’ to ‘what if I actually <succeed?” ‘ to a more benign ‘I just don’t like this activity’. If you can figure out what you are resisting and why then you will be pulled out of that avoidant state and put back in command of your next steps. This is often followed by a sense of relief or clarity, as well as achievement or productivity. As you read that sentence, did you feel your shoulders go down and your breath deepen? That’s your energy returning to you. 🙂
3) Use a New Approach with Your Schedule.
New rule: Just because it fits neatly in a perfect block on your calendar, doesn’t mean you can actually put it there.
I get it. I get it. I get it. We’ve all got a million meetings, and we need to be efficient with our time.
Here’s the thing, though:
Your calendar only accounts for your time. It has no information about your tiredness or hunger level, your mental/emotional state, or any of the other activities or challenges going on around or within you.
So, you guessed it, when planning your schedule, first check in with your body.
Notice how you feel when you do back-to-back meetings. How many can you do in a row before your brain shuts down? How do you feel when you schedule fewer meetings, shorter meetings, or meetings with a 15-minute break in between? How does it feel when the meeting is more high-stakes? How do the content and anticipated number or type of participants change how you feel about the meeting? Do you have to present or are you just a listener? Will you deliver good news or bad news, etc? And how does all of this impact the amount of mental and physical energy that you will need to have available in order to be present and do a good job in the meeting?
It’s also helpful to check in with the rhythms and patterns of your body over time. For instance, if you know that your brain and body tend to get a little tired around 2:00 every day, you might consider whether to schedule that 1:1 with your boss at that time. Alternatively, if you <em>have</em> to schedule that 1:1 with your boss at 2:00, you may choose to modify other parts of your day to ensure you have enough energy available for the more important meeting.
When you keep these types of things in mind, you can interact with your calendar in a completely new way. You can be more mindful of how you schedule your meetings to align with your energy, as well as align your energy to your meetings. I realize this is not always possible. Yet, when these two things dance together, even just a little, you’ll find that you have to slog or push through fewer meetings while feeling depleted and that the quality of your participation in meetings goes up – all of which leads you to feel more energized.
How’d all of that land with you? Any useful takeaways? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Tell me what you are trying this week and how well it’s working for you.
You are doing so well. This is true for days when you have a felt sense of doing well, as well as for the days you don’t.
I see you. You got this.