In every pandemic horror story, when the unknown disease threatens to wipe all of human kind from the face of the Earth there is always a frantic hunt for Patient Zero, the source of the problem and the only solution to it at the same time. It makes sense, as it’s extremely hard to fix something you know nothing about. And today’s pandemic I want to talk to you about is energy drainers.
We all have good days when we feel strong, energetic, and ready to tackle anything life will throw at us. Unfortunately there are different kind of days, when no matter how many hours of sleep you had night before, you feel exhausted, completely run-down. If we put aside any medical problem that can cause such a symptoms (and for which I highly encourage you to see your family doctor), what might be a reason for our energy slipping through the fingers, leaving us wonder why and how to deal with it.
And this is where our pursuit after Patient Zero, the troublemaker, begins.
As it often happens with us human beings, there are internal and external factors that affect how we feel or behave. Energy drainers are no difference. It can be something or someone in our environment that draws our energy out, or the way we think or act can be the main reason for our own misery.
Let’s take a closer look at each one of the potential reasons why we feel tired all the time.
External energy drainers
Two primary external energy drainers are the people around us and the situations we find ourselves in day after day.
Many of you heard an expression “energy vampires”. They come in all shapes and sizes, many - with the smile and best intentions in mind and this is why it is so hard to realize who those people really are and what they do to us. It can be your best friend with endless list of favours to ask, or a colleague who manages to find something wrong about everything, or a family member who lives under impression that your life is perfect and he or she deserves better. Sounds familiar?
So, how to recognize an energy vampire? Because they are wearing so many “faces” and play so many different “roles”, in my humble opinion, trying to find a common denominator for all of them – it’s kind of a waste of time and energy J. I would say – trust your gut. If such people were around you for some time, you probably already realized that something isn’t quite right. It can be a headache which appears every time you had a conversation with one of them. Or you have a few days of intense self-convincing to do before you able to pick up the phone and make a call to an energy drainer friend.
As a next step you will need to answer a few questions to yourself. Do you really have to have those people in your life and why? What exactly in their behaviour causing the strongest discomfort? Do they act this way intentionally or it’s an unconscious habitual way of their existence? When you will have the answers to all those questions, it will be easier to make a decision what to do.
Generally speaking you have three potential scenarios.
You can have an honest conversation with this person and try to help him or her to see the situation through your eyes. Be specific of what you’re asking this individual to change or avoid in his or her behaviour, propose shift in their actions, not in a personal qualities.
You also can choose to spend as less time or avoid those people all together if it’s possible. This is the best way to go, but unfortunately also the most unattainable.
So, if the conversation didn’t get you anywhere and it’s impossible to stay away, your last reserve is to protect yourself. Before any contact with a potential energy drainer, stop for a few moments and imagine an invisible wall around you. The human brain doesn’t distinguish between real and imaginary. Building this wall in your mind will make you feel in control, protected and safe. The stronger the wall the less effect the energy vampire will have on you. Remind yourself that this wall exists once in a while so it won’t fade away. And if the damage is unavoidable, try to surround yourself with people whose presence you enjoy. The more the better.
The second most common external energy drainer is our everyday environment. Heavy traffic on the way to work and back, overloaded schedule, being a caregiver for an elderly parent or something as small and insignificant as noisy office or uncomfortable shoes. And here the possibilities for potential Patient Zero are endless. The most efficient way to identify it is to look back at your day, step by step and try to realize at what point you started to lose your energy reserves, where you were at that moment, what you were doing. Take your time, don’t rush to conclusions. When you would know what exactly takes your energy away, you would have much better idea what to do with it and how to minimize the negative impact.
Internal energy drainers
As paradoxically as it sounds, we are our own biggest enemy when it comes to energy drainers. The most annoying one is unhealthy thoughts, ones that stick to us like a bare skin sticks to an icy surface. You really have to find courage to peel it off and be ready for some pain and bleeding. Same with those intrusive negative thoughts, which are draining our energy away and making us to doubt ourselves, but somewhat comforting us at the same time as any not very pleasant but familiar environment would do. I wish we would have a switch to turn off any negativity that running through our mind or if we would be able to force ourselves do not think about something. But in the reality the more we trying to avoid something, the stronger it clings to us. Our mind, like a puppy has to chew on something at all times. Thus give it to him, but replace negative thoughts with something else: different task, a song, some planning for next day or next month, a day dream (don’t do it behind the wheel). Do it as many times as needed, as our mind is a bit stubborn and will try to go back to the upsetting but accustomed way of functioning.
Next one will be a silence treatment we are giving to ourselves. There are plenty of reasons why we do it: cultural, social, perceptual, the way we were raised, etc. I am not invoking to broadcast to the world everything that is on your mind. I agree that some people take the principal of sharing too far, there is a golden mean for everything. But once in a while we need to let our worries off our chest, otherwise the pile will grow and grow, until you won’t be able to carry it at all.
There are two more very common reason for our energy to disappear: bad habits we are not always aware we have and our tendency to do all in once or procrastinate till the last second. Those two issues are huge and deserve special attention and a separate article, which will follow soon.
Bottom line, don’t just accept the fact that your energy level is low. Be attentive to you mind, listen to your body. Self-care is a mandatory attribute of happy and healthy living.