We’ve all had those times where we feel spent and overspent. Maybe we just worked through an intense project or we’re ramping up for additional demands. Maybe it was due to the change of seasons or unexpected familial demands. Whatever the reason, we feel that our personal battery is run down, yet we continue to push onward. Although time might seem like our most precious resource, without the energy to do good in the world, all the time in the world is useless.
I still experience stressful situations. By 2:30 p.m. on Friday, I was running on fumes looking at a long list of projects that still needed my attention. It was clear that I had overdrawn my emotional, interpersonal and energetic “bank account.” This week alone, I had three early breakfast meetings, four nights out, a board meeting, and houseguests for three out of the five nights. It is hard to say what the straw was that broke (my) the camel’s back.
More demands and more distractions remove us from who we are and what matters most. But being “always on” and “always connected” means we must be even more aware. Now that we’re living in a world that wants us to constantly be plugged in, we need to take time out to recharge ourselves — not just our technology.
I have been writing about this for over six years now, and I still fall prey to too many compelling demands made by those around me. Yes, it is important to care, but just like the airlines say — we need to put on our oxygen mask before helping those around us.
Understand The Intersection Between The Mind, Body And Emotions
Becoming more attentive of your mind, body and emotions is critical. The problem is, at work, we are often rewarded for focusing exclusively on the mind (spending hours grinding out work-related projects).
Take time out to care for your body and emotions by unplugging from the world and reconnecting with the things that matter most. For me, this can be a multi-phased process. I clear my plate of tasks, then I spend quality time with my family. Sometimes it is as simple as a few extra belly tickles for my son or a few minutes pushing my daughter on the swing. I’ve learned that for me to really be my best, I need to have a line of sight.
Start by noticing where your deficit might be and focus your full senses on this arena. Maybe it’s as simple as looking at pictures of your kids or carving out five minutes to stretch or exercise.
Know Your Struggle And Navigate It
Even as an extrovert, I sometimes feel overextended. The harsh reality is that time is finite and energy needs to be managed. What you eat, how hydrated you are, and your quality of sleep are not things you should overlook.
A key tenet of creating more flow is toggling between a high-intensity, focused effort (a struggle) and release. The simple capacity to shift your mental and physical body into different states is a key to letting go of stress.
Manage And Minimize “The Funk”
We all experience times of extreme overload. Sometimes it can be managed, but sometimes, it overwhelms us. When we get overwhelmed, there are still ways to cope.
It starts with having the needed bandwidth to face what is coming and respond to the crisis. My magic triad for getting “out of a funk” is reaching out to three people I love, getting a good night’s sleep, and getting in a good workout (preferably a run outside in the sunshine).
Anticipate And Prevent The Reoccurrence Of Stress
Once you’ve recovered from a stressful situation, try to make sense of what just happened and learn from the experience. Know your stress triggers and how to recalibrate. Ideally, you want to anticipate and avoid future episodes.
But more importantly, know how to return to that sweet spot where you are in your own flow, at your best and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.