When I say “your energy,” what comes to mind? At first I thought of it as some abstract, mystical thing that isn’t measurable, similar to the vibes, the auras. What I now realize is that this form of abstract energy is measurable through your physical, mental and emotional energy levels. Let’s consider this scenario; you walk into a room and take a look around to see a series of gloomy faces with hunched shoulders and lackluster eyes. You interpret those physical cues as “low energy.” In contrast, if you walk into a room where everyone is chatting and smiling, laughing, relaxed posture and lively eyes, you interpret those cues as high energy. The relationship is between your interpretation of the energy levels in a given situation and your own energy levels as they become effected by your observations.
The basic phenomena is that as social beings, our instincts are to mirror the energy levels of the things around us. That’s why dogs have been aggressively bred to have big eyes that mirror babies, because babies are generally happy beings, and dogs with their big eyes remind us of happy babies. That’s not a stretch, that’s a fact— according to an investigative article by The Atlantic, dogs have developed specific eye muscles that allow them to open their eyes and lower them in ways that their biological cousins, the wolves, cannot. The point is, like a happy dog, the “energy in the room” can affect our moods and our physical and emotional energy levels.
All this to say, it’s crucial to protect our energy and by extension our time. I don’t think it needs much explanation, but I will break it down into this simple equation— Energy Drain = Exhaustion = Time Wasted Trying to Recuperate. There are some simple and some not so simple things we can do to protect our energy, ranging from mindfulness to cutting energy draining people off.
5 Things You Can Do To Protect Your Energy
Beware of Energy Draining People
Let’s start off with what will likely be the hardest one. As I said earlier, to an extent, we mirror the people in our lives. Sometimes we are so used to the people around us, we don’t realize those very people are draining our energy. A good way to tell is by taking note of your mood and your overall energy level after you’ve left that person. Do you feel tired? Why? Is it because you did something laborious, like a sport or a physical activity, or is it because the person sucked all your energy out? A naturally introverted person might argue that they lose energy talking to anyone, irrespective of the energy they give off. The flaw in that thinking is that it’s only about physical energy, when in fact, a draining person might also shift your mood, or your mental equilibrium as well as your physical energy. If you find friends or relatives draining you in any of these ways, consider creating some healthy space between you and that person.
Counterattack Energy Draining Activities
Examples of activities that can drain your energy are tasks that are stressful, dull, time consuming, cumbersome to complete. Anything that is interpreted in our minds as a chore is something that can be an energy draining activity. Sometimes we can’t escape these (i.e our jobs, or studying for a test) but what we can do is recognize them as energy drainers and work to counterbalance the drain. For example, taking stretching breaks at work; mediating before a draining activity; rewarding ourself with a relaxing activity afterwards. Another way to reduce your energy drain from activities is to be efficient. The more time you spend on an energy draining activity, the more energy you drain.
Be Mindful of Mindless Activities
I’m looking at you social media. Platforms like Tiktok and Instagram are specifically designed to keep you scrolling. If you aren’t paying attention, you could scroll for hours at a time. It’s not the scrolling that is draining, its the mental chaos that comes with it. OMG Megan is pregnant, Oh man look at Tyler’s abs, he’s been working out, oh wow look at that car she’s driving, look at her engagement ring, look at, look at, look at. Often times we sit there and stare at other people’s fabricated lifestyles and compare them to our own, wondering why we aren’t as successful or as skinny or as this and that. It’s draining. The same can be said for TV and movies, video games, etc. Our consumption of “picture perfect” and manufactured realities distort our perception of real life causing us to self-doubt, self-loath and self-drain. A good rule of thumb is if it’s not enriching your mind and body, then it’s draining it.
Declutter Your Space
Our physical space is a reflection of our mental space. Sure there are some people who like to live in a sort of organized chaos, but there’s a big different between appearing unorganized and actually being unorganized. There are those who have everything thrown everywhere and can never find exactly what they are looking for. Their space is a cluttered mess, just like the cluttered mess in their minds. Take the time to declutter your space, and you will start to declutter your mind. What does this have to do with protecting your energy? Your mind is the energy drain. You can’t focus on anything, your mind is all over the place, you bounce ideas and lose focus all the time. That’s so draining. Take 5 minutes out of your day to de-clutter your space, little by little. Then take 5 more minutes to sit in that cleared space and do nothing. You will soon see your mind start to unburden itself from the weight of mental clutter.
Low-self esteem is a silent killer. It’s a subconscious script that we replay over and over again in our minds, reinforcing that we ain’t worth shit. Damn, is that not energy draining? Who wants to do anything or go anywhere when they feel like they aren’t worth two pennies? One way to rewrite this negative script into a positive script is to practice self-care. Self-care reinforces self-love and self-appreciation, in turn boosting our own self-worth and confidence. The ironic part is that once we start to practice self-care, others start to notice. We start to get compliments. Outward positive reinforcement matches our inward positive reinforcement— uplifting our moods and our energy levels.
The Bottom Line
Notice how many different ways we can drain our energy throughout the day? It’s overwhelming, isn’t it? What I’ve found to be the most preserving is to live mindfully. Go throughout my day checking in on myself and noticing my energy levels. Was that virtual meeting super draining? Maybe I should take a 10 minute break and recharge. How long have I been scrolling on instagram? Okay let me put the phone down and do something else. Being cognizant of the things that suck your energy dry will help you start to notice when these things take a toll on you. The end game is to have energy for the things that you truly care about and want to put energy towards.