With the advent of Spring and the natural resurgence of zest that comes with it, it’s the ideal time to explore ways we can revitalise and shift our energy says psychologist Suzy Reading
Ask anyone how they are doing right now and fatigue is likely to feature somewhere in their response. Energy has become the modern equivalent of the holy grail. When you consider the uncertainty and impingements we’ve weathered for two years now care of Covid, it makes perfect sense that we’re exhausted, but let’s be honest, we’ve been running on fumes for decades. With the advent of Spring and the natural resurgence of zest that comes with it, it’s the ideal time to explore ways we can revitalise and shift our energy. It goes much deeper than our daily caffeine habit and we have so much more control than perhaps we realise.
Why are we so tired?
Living through the pandemic has been a rollercoaster of curveballs – more pressure, stress and anxiety at a time when so many of our usual means of nourishment were unavailable to us. What initially felt like a novelty – like those shapeless days between Christmas and New Year, soon spooled out into weeks of sedentary sameness and the perfect recipe for bone-deep lethargy and mental mush. But it’s not just pandemic fatigue, we’re embedded in a culture that tells us ‘You snooze, you lose’, with the messaging starting early in childhood where our kids are rewarded for soldiering on and not taking sick days.
Consumerism tells us we must buy more to be more, an aching hole that can only be filled by acquiring and relentless personal growth. Fitness culture tells us ‘No pain, no gain’, encouraging us to push so hard that our wellbeing regimes themselves can become a source of depletion. And hustle culture has us equating productivity with self-worth, rest being maligned as a superfluous waste of time. We rely on caffeine to get us going, sugar to sustain us, screens to pacify us and alcohol to help us wind down in the evening – all of which set us on a vicious cycle for needing more tomorrow.
It is high time that we got off this treadmill and gave ourselves permission to do things differently.
How can we shift our energy?
Grab a paper and pen and jot down all the things that you find energizing. The sources that come to mind readily might be the kind of food we eat, hydration, movement, sunlight, fresh air and Nature’s Beauty. I hope that despite what society tells us about rest, relaxation, and sleep, that these have also been
included on your list too. These are all powerful means of sustenance but let’s broaden our toolkit.
We are equally fuelled by colour, scent, music, a tall and upright posture, natural and expansive breathing, loving touch, gentle and coaxing words of encouragement, human connection, solitude, moments of awe, curiosity, gratitude, creative expression, and play. We are also enormously galvanized by
personal purpose, being of service and living in alignment with our values. So much of what we have been taught about energy is seeking it from outside of us. I hope this list helps you see just how much energy is created from within, when we extend compassion and tenderness towards ourselves, praising ourselves for our efforts, seeking our own validation and marching to the beat of our own drum.
We don’t have to clear our to-do list to earn the right to rest, recognizing our achievements is not bragging and giving ourselves a pat on the back does not make us narcissists, they are all just part of our energy management toolkit.
Why is energy so vital?
Ponder a moment what it feels like to be well-rested, well-nourished, energized? Ask yourself: what does energy mean to you and what does this translate to in your life? It goes well beyond the physical grit and stamina to move through your day, it ripples out into mental clarity, decision making power, creativity, an effervescent mood, access to a sense of humour, empathy, and compassion. It is the stuff that helps us action all the things that are important to us – delivering quality work, honouring our intentions, making progress towards our goals and it’s the juice that keeps our relationships well oiled. When you think of energy in these terms, we can see just how fundamental it is to life and why we need to move restorative practices from the bottom of the to-do list and right back up to the top where they belong – the petrol in the tank that enables us to power through the rest.
What’s your energy prescription?
Just as there is a seasonal flow to energy, there are also chapters in your life affecting not only your energy levels but also what you find restorative. What felt resonant in the depths of winter might feel completely different to what calls to you now in Spring. The things that brought you zest in your twenties might take a different shape in your thirties. Perhaps parenthood has changed the landscape to what you find energizing? When work pressures mount or during periods of change or loss, we might need to adjust how we source our energy.
SET ASIDE SOME TIME TO REFLECT ON THE FOLLOWING PROMPTS:
What makes you feel alive?
What helps you feel well-rested?
What depletes you and how can you minimise or avoid these things?
How can you give yourself permission to better manage your energy?
What steps do you need to take to pace yourself?
SIMPLE PRACTICES TO UPLIFT AND SOOTHE
Just look up!
Lifting your line of sight draws you into a tall, upright posture which naturally boosts your energy, or take your fingertips to your shoulders and as you breathe in, trace your elbows forwards and upwards in a circle and as you exhale, take them out, back and down. These ‘chicken wing shoulder rolls’ release physical tension and help you breathe better.
Earthing your Brow
Sit at a table and bring your forehead to rest on your folded hands. Allow your eyes to close, whisper some kind words to yourself and enjoy resting your senses for a minute. No effort is required here, and feel how this allows you to re-enter your day with greater clarity and purpose. The ability to shift your energy is literally at your fingertips.
Suzy is an author, chartered psychologist and coach specialising in self-care. Her new book, Sit to Get Fit is available for pre-order now @suzyreading