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Being mindful of our energy level

Our body talks to us, but do we listen? Mindfulness can help us find out what our body needs, and what beliefs are preventing us from taking care of ourselves.

The last couple of weeks I discovered once more that being mindful of my energy level is no luxury. Every once in a while life gets so busy, lots of meetings, lots of appointments, birthdays etc. which means: lots of extroverting. For an introvert like me, this also means losing energy and needing solitude to recover. When I fail to make sure I get enough ‘me time’, eventually my body will make sure I listen by becoming ill or exhausted.

Everyone has things that give energy and things that cost energy. The things that cost energy are not necessarily bad or unpleasant. I, for instance, like interacting with people. There is a problem however, when we are not mindfully creating a balance between energy intake and expenditure.

The things we do are very often ‘dictated’ by the outer world. We feel that we have very little say in some things. When our child is sick, we have to take care of it. There is not much choice there, even if staying up all night will cost us a lot of energy. We might also feel that we have not much say in our energy expenditure at work. Circumstances are beyond our control. Customers or bosses might be demanding. And so, without giving it much thought, we do what we think we have to do, without considering how it effects our energy.

Some tasks will be very energizing for us. Other tasks draining. Some interactions as well. Are you aware of what energizes you and what drains you? Do you talk about it with your co-workers?

Luckily we are not all the same. What drains one person, might energize another. I am for instance really happy that I don’t work in sales. That would really drain me. But, salespeople would quite likely be drained by programming, which I happen to love. In the end, in a balanced team, it should be possible to spend most of our time and give most of our value in work that energizes us.

We will always be challenged though, to be mindful of our boundaries. And, when aware of our boundaries, to be assertive in respecting them. A lot of mind bugs can come up. Beliefs that tell us why it is impossible right now to take care of ourselves.

  • I am too busy
  • My team needs me
  • I’m not a good team mate if I don’t …
  • I’m a bad parent if I …
  • My friends won’t understand if I cancel this appointment
  • etc.

However, ignoring our body’s needs can be costly, not only for ourselves, but also for the people that surround us. The very people that we are trying to serve by not respecting our boundaries. To be mindful of our energy levels, to take care of our well-being, is to take care of our family, our team, our friends. No-one benefits when we exhaust ourselves to the point of burn-out.

This week I had the opportunity to challenge some of my fears that have prevented me in the past to take care of my needs. I explained in my team that, although I like interacting with them and I really value everyone of them, too many meetings will drain my energy. I was excused from one meeting and took the time to recharge and work on my own in a separate office. That helped a lot! And, I arranged that I could work at home every once in a while, to make sure that I have enough time to recharge. I am very thankful for my understanding team mates and manager and I wish for everyone to be able to work in such an understanding environment.

And for those of you that need to be mindful of their energy level as well, I hope you will listen to your body, tell others what you need and take care of yourselves!

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