Lately I’ve been feeling super overwhelmed with everything. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it’s thinking about going to yoga, or adding in a friend date – everything feels so repulsive.
I haven’t been giving myself the time and space that I need in order to maintain my energy levels and a good mental state. I haven’t kept a good balance with my energy givers versus energy drainers. And now the only thing I feel like doing is giving up on the world and hiding in bed.
Upon reflection it seems silly that I make the decisions I do. If you’re feeling drained for energy wouldn’t it make sense to focus more on the energy givers and reduce those energy drainers? Seems simple and clear, but this isn’t what happens. And I don’t think I’m alone here.
When I’m feeling drained and craving a whole lot of nothingness, I start skipping those very things that would give me more energy – because the energy drainer things always feel more “important” and that it’s my responsibility to carry them out. So I start skipping dance class, opting out of yoga, avoiding the gym. This in turn fucks me over even more. I get even more drained and overwhelmed, with my ratio of energy drainer to energy givers much more off balance then they were when I began to the draining process!
It’s a hard cycle to break – but I’ve hit my breaking point. I’ve reached a point that I am really not okay with being so off track. And I’m tired of constantly feeling so overwhelmed – and beating myself up for that reaction when “it’s not a sensible reaction – things really aren’t that bad”.
Our default to take away our energy givers is such a backwards trap – and the belief that these things are somehow seen as added bonuses we get to pursue if- and only if- we have enough energy after we get our work done. It makes me think of the consequence I had as a kid of not being able to see friends on the weekend if I didn’t go to school on Friday (“If you’re too sick for school, you’re too sick for friends”) – this of course makes a bit more sense, but it’s funny that we kind of hold ourselves to that idea throughout our lifetimes for not just sickness but everything. If we can’t get our work done, we shouldn’t be out at yoga or heading to a movie.
If you don’t even have enough energy to go to yoga, should you be going to work? If you are feeling too overwhelmed with your schedule to see friends, shouldn’t you be skipping those chores?
I think in an ideal world this would be our belief system and society would back it up. Of course you should cancel work and put chores on hold if you feel too unwell or drained to meet up with friends or get to yoga class. It’s a no-brainer when you really think about it. And yet, it even feels ridiculous to type.
I wonder how much better off we would all be if that was our thinking though.. If we prioritized all the things that give us energy, excitement, joy, and feed our soul and body – what kind of difference would we see in everyone -even their work.
So we might not always be able to make such a clear cut ballsy decision since there are other factors at play too (money, for one), but how can we make sure to get those energy givers higher up on our priority list? How can we make sure they aren’t the first to go when we start feeling drained from the build up of energy drainers? It’s important, because truth be told, the only way we are going to get back and stay in our optimal state is by getting more of those energy givers into our lives again.
I think we have to start by getting clear with identifying what are our energy givers and what are our energy drainers. Take note: energy drainers aren’t necessarily bad things to pursue – some projects that we are passionately pursuing and providing meaning/creativity etc (i.e. Value-Based) can still be energy drainers. The point isn’t a list of good versus evil – it’s to honestly reflect on what things feel draining and what things feel energizing to do. And then, we can ensure that we are getting enough of the energy givers so we have the energy needed to meet the demands of those energy drainers. And if things start to feel draining – we must be sure to first look at reducing the energy drainers (or time on them) and maintain or increase our energy givers.
It’s so easy to keep spiraling down once we start falling into this trap; the more we decide to skip our energy givers, the less energy we have, and the more impossible everything feels.
Can you give yourself permission to matter enough that you first and foremost need to have enough energy to upkeep your energy givers – before attempting to attend to the energy drainers?
I’m trying to figure this out for myself this week. If I don’t have enough energy to go to yoga – does that mean I should also cancel work appointments? If I did this would I stop feeling so trapped in chaos?
I’m trying to see how I can give myself enough space and time to just be this week – as well as get back into my energy givers. The thought of having to make it to yoga or the gym is stressing me out. I’m trying to be compassionate and give myself time beforehand to relax without obligations – and follow through on the knowledge that it will provide me more energy once I do it. And to make it my obligation for the day. I’m trying to remove the other obligations that were there (energy drainers) and focus on the energy giver being my only obligation.
Because, as weird as it is, the energy giver things actually start to appear as obligations – as something we don’t want to pursue because of the state we are in. When we have no energy to begin with, doing ANYTHING can feel like a chore and seem repulsive. I don’t know if it’s just me, but even when I think of doing something I usually love to do and know would help me feel better – I still just want to sit on my ass and have a tantrum at the thought of going.
I know it’s not because I all of sudden hate dance, yoga, gym, writing, reading, walking, my friends. I know it’s feedback at just how overwhelmed I am. And it’s feedback that I need to refocus what I’m prioritizing. I need to prioritize some serious downtime and make my energy givers my (only) obligations.
I’m still not at a point where I can cancel everything off my week – perhaps I should be – but I haven’t reached that point of permission with myself yet. I have marked off three days and hoping to make enough progress during this time to help get myself back on track and out of this state of overwhelm.
So I leave you with some questions in case you are currently experiencing (or can relate to) the overwhelm and fed up state that I am in.
Do you know what your energy givers and energy drainers are?
Are you aware of the balance you need to maintain your energy level?
Do you know what your ratio is now?
How do you notice you are starting to get off balance?
Do you/will you give yourself permission to reduce the energy drainers and prioritize energy givers?
If you are too drained to have coffee with a friend, should you really be going to work?
Is it absurd? Why?
What difference would it make in your life if your energy mattered more than _______?