We are now mid-September and there’s still this feeling of the new (school) year floating around. Like a lot of people, I am starting this year with plenty of good resolutions mainly because I am starting a new course this September, learning about nutrition. I know that a full-time Master Degree course and still running the clinic will be challenging energy wise so I’ve been thinking about I can do to look after myself and keep my energy levels up.
In Chinese Medicine, we often think about energy like a bank account. You have your current account and your saving account. As we go along our days, we spend the energy from our current account. Hopefully, there is enough in it to get us through the day (otherwise, we need to go and dip into our savings). If/when there is some energy left at the end of the day, it goes into our saving account.
Our saving account is a buffer for when we need that extra boost of energy.
Our current account gets replenished through sleep, food and ‘nourishing activities’. It gets depleted through work, exercise, everyday activities (and sex!).
I have looked before at what we can do to replenish our energy in this blog post. So this time, I’m going to concentrate on how we can cut down our energy expenditure.
1- Decide WHERE to spend our energy wisely
Very often, we tend to give away some energy we don’t have or more than what we have available. We try to make it look like we have it all together, doing everything and being everything to everyone.
The trick here is to decide what truly matters and what is actually not so important after all. What it means is that we might want to decide that having clean clothes is important but baking cakes from scratch for World Book Day at school isn’t (and buy some cakes/biscuits from the supermarket instead). We might decide that spending 30 mins doing some exercise or going for a walk outside is important but checking how many ‘likes’ we have on our Facebook post isn’t.
We need to decide what matters. And avoid been sucked into activities that aren’t important to US. Saying ‘No, thank you’ to the demands or opportunities so you don’t go on overdraft and have to dip into that saving account.
Remember too that self-care activities are important because looking after yourself is the only way for you to be able to look after others (See below – you can’t pour from an empty cup!). So when looking at what is important, look at what you need to do for your family, for others but think about yourself too.
2- Give priority to those important things.
There is a lovely image to explain that.
Imagine you have some big stones and some sand and you want to carry them in a bucket. If you put the sand in the bucket first, you won’t be able to put many big rocks in there. But if you start with the rocks, you will be able to put the sand around the rocks in the bucket and carry them both together.
Same goes with the important things you want or need to do. Like the rocks, you need to put them first. Put them on your calendar or in your diary. Tell everyone that every Monday evening, you go to your yoga class. Just like a meeting at work, make it non-negotiable. It’s there and you can’t move it.
Then all the not-so important things go second, around the big things. If there isn’t enough space in the bucket/in your day, they will have to wait or maybe they won’t be done at all. And It’s OK because the important things have been done.
3- Learn to delegate.
It often feels like we can do everything or even that we ‘should’ do everything. It could be doing all the housework when children could look after their own bedroom/things or trying to decorate the entire house on our own. Delegating means been able to juggle our energy levels better. It means giving the opportunity to someone to step up and support us. It also means freeing up some time to do other (important!) things.
4- Sacrificing sleep for ‘getting things done’.
I see that one very often at the clinic. It’s usually women who tell me they are exhausted but can’t go to bed any earlier because they need to do x, y and z and the only time they can do it is in the evening. This is not OK. Sleep should be one of your non-negotiable, important things that will take priority over most things (bar a child that is been ill etc… you get the just of it).
So, establish a routine that allows you to have enough sleep every night of the week. Decide how many hours you need (for most people this will be between 7~8 hours) and stick to it.
5- Remember you can’t pour from an empty cup
Trying to do everything and running ourselves down only means that we won’t have the energy left to do the things that really matter to us. Looking after ourselves, saying NO to some demands, allows us to be there for what will really make a difference. To spend time with our family, nurture our friendships, and generally look after ourselves as we would look after a child.
Over to you
What about you? Do you know what are the activities you find nourishing and uplifting?
Are you clear about your own priorities, what is important for you this year and you much you can give to other pursuits that aren’t on the top of your priority list?