I’ve just finished my first week on call at my new job as a funeral service operative. Life took an unexpected turn as I embarked on the role of ‘part-time’ undertaker a couple of months ago.
Even though I only had one callout in the early hours, the anticipation, the new experiences and the general emotional toil has really drained me this week.
Recharge Your Social Energy
Times like these require me to set aside more time for recovery. It’s not just physical; it’s my emotional, mental, and social energy that have taken the hit.
There are many activities that can help the recovery but they require the motivation to choose them. The right choices are not always the default choices.
Not only that, but choosing how to spend your time can be draining in itself, especially when you feel like you have less of it and need to make the right decision. I don’t know about you but half the battle is making a difficult choice and going against the easy thing in favour of the right thing to do.
How do you re-charge your social batteries when they’re depleted?
1. Make Something
For introverts and many highly sensitive people we create social energy when we are alone. For it to be most effective however, these moments of solitude will be intentional. Nothing is more energising than actively and intentionally creating or making something.
Write, cook, play music, draw, sculpt, garden, knit, sew.
The feeling of progress, of seeing something develop in our hands, is great. Whether it’s a small contribution to long term project or something you can create from start to finish in a few hours (like this blog post), there is as much mental reward in the process of doing, as we might find when we reach the destination.
2. Take a Break from Certain Technology
If you try charging your phone while you’re still using it you will find that it takes a lot longer to restore the battery.
Likewise, there are certain aspects of modern life that prevent us from charging effectively that we maybe don’t even consider. Like being plugged in and accessible to a global network of people right from our pockets 24/7.
You’re getting pings from various social networks, texts, calls, and emails. Not to mention the underlying fear of missing out, the compulsive, mindless checking of news feeds, and pressure to think of something witty or interesting to share with the world and remind them you still exist.
If we’re not aware and intentional about actively unplugging from these tools from time to time, we will never get our batteries back to 100%.
Are there particular devices that you use which mean you can’t step away from the noise? What are they?
In their book, “The Healing Power of the Breath” Richard P. Brown, M.D. and Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D. talk about how we can voluntarily change our breathing and send messages to our brain to then change how we feel in certain situations.
By voluntarily changing the rate, depth, and pattern of breathing, we can change the messages being sent from the body’s respiratory system to the brain. In this way, breathing techniques provide a portal to the autonomic communication network through which we can, by changing our breathing patterns, send specific messages to the brain using the language of the body, a language the brain understands and to which it responds. Messages from the respiratory system have rapid, powerful effects on major brain centers involved in thought, emotion, and behavior.
By learning to voluntarily control our breathing we can build up an archive of responses to different situations. If we are able to respond to stress in this way the brain will aid us in our recovery.
When you exercise you enhance the blood flow, which increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to muscle tissue, and thus improves their ability to produce more energy.
How often do we say no to exercise because we don’t have the energy?
The truth is, exercise actually creates energy. When it’s the last thing we feel like doing it’s one of the first things that will help. Whether it’s a visit to the gym, a dip in the pool, or simply a brisk walk around the block, exercise will have you feeling more energised.
It can also have an additional impact (similar to creativity) when you are making progress towards a meaningful goal.
5. Guilt-Free Lounging
There is nothing wrong with lying on the sofa and watching a film, taking a nap, or reading a book. This is often exactly what is needed.
If you’re anything like me however, you find it hard to allow yourself to do this without feeling guilty. You have a constant nag in the back of your mind saying you should be doing something else (something more productive).
If so, block out time on your schedule, specifically and intentionally allocated to guilt and objective-free lounging. Commit to doing nothing. It can have a wondrous impact.
6. Actively LISTEN to Music
Music has an incredible restorative power. When you connect with a piece of music in a deep way it can provide enormous waves of energy.
When was the last time you really listened to a piece of music? I don’t just mean hearing it, but truly listening to it without doing anything else at the same time. According to Frank Fitzpatrick, the benefits of actively listening to music impact our emotional, physical, mental, social, electrical, neurological, spiritual, energetic, and chemical wellbeing. So don’t overlook this one.
Organising, planning, and getting back behind the wheel of your own life can restore a feeling of control over your energy. Simply being aware of your calendar and what will be required of you over the next seven days can have a hugely positive effect.
You might not consider yourself an ‘organised’ person, but there may well be an underlying and unconscious energy-depleting level of stress due to certain unknowns/uncertainties when it comes to how you spend your time.
Designing your ‘ideal week’ or planning the next seven days at the start of each week will stop you from using unnecessary energy on this kind of anxiety. The very act of planning will help clear the clutter of your mind and remove the unconscious stress of not having a clear and identifiable map of when you will be required to spend your energy over the coming days.
Bonus: Write Everything Down
My final tip is to keep an accessible list of things that spring to mind through the day, whether that’s ideas, things you need to do, reminders about events or engagements etc. Everything. As soon as they come to mind, get them out of your head and into physical form in a place you know you will address them later.
Then at a time that works for you go through the list and make them actionable. Either allocate specific time in the future to do it, delete it if it no longer has an relevance, add it to a maybe someday folder, or if you have time, do it right now. This is what I do, using the general principles of David Allen from his Getting Things Done teaching.
This frees up so much mental energy. Knowing that the only thing you need to do is write a quick note and forget about it is liberating.
And then choosing to say yes to a period of time when you will commit to knocking things off that list can have a great effect on your mood and energy levels. With each thing you tick off you can feel the metal shackles loosen.
Over to You
Can you think of any other tips? I would love to hear what you do to recover your social energy in the gaps between the busy-ness and noise.