Modern life is, let’s be real, absolutely draining. If you’re not collapsing into bed at the end of the day, absolutely wiped out, we want to know your secrets.
What’s the answer to this issue? Probably not individual action. We might need a total societal reset – or at least a rethink when it comes to the way we work.
But while we wait for that to happen, there are things we can do to stem the tide of tiredness and lower our risk of burnout.
You can ask for increased flexibility at work, prioritise your sleep hygiene, change the way you think about yourself (as in, you’re more than just your job), and, the method we’ll be discussing today, create your own ‘energy battery’ to get you more in tune with how you’re really doing.
‘Thinking of yourself – your mix of mind, body, spirit, emotions – as a battery, can help you to tune into your body’s innate wisdom which can support you to manage your energy levels and avoid burnout,’ says work expert Katy Murray.
The first step in using this battery idea to your advantage is checking in with yourself.
‘Imagine you are a battery right now,’ Katy tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Close your eyes if you like. Take a deep breath. Notice what’s going on in your body (any tension/ pain/ weariness), in your thoughts (how are you speaking to yourself), notice how you feel (tune into your emotions).
‘Now connect with your overall energy levels. How topped up is your battery right now? Are you at 80%, 63%, 47%, 20%?’
Done that? Now have a think about the why.
Katy explains: ‘If your energy’s high right now, can you recognise what’s contributing to this? How can you make the most of this high energy? How can you do more of this thing that ‘tops up’ your battery?
‘If your energy’s low, can you recognise what’s contributing to this? Can you tune into what you may need to help you ‘top up’ your battery?
‘Check in with your physical needs first. Do you need to rest or have a nap? Come off your screens? Breathe some fresh air? Eat something nutritious? Drink some water? Often this will be enough to give us a micro energy boost.
‘If you want to explore more deeply you can check in with your emotional, relational and spiritual needs.
‘Your emotional needs – do you need to have a cry, a rant, a moment to feel proud of yourself and celebrate your progress?
‘Your relationship needs – are you having private conversations with someone in your head? Unresolved conflict or tension with others in our lives are huge energy drains. Try and identify the conversation that you need to have out loud with someone to reduce this drain on your energy.
‘Your spiritual needs – are you feeling connected to what’s most important to you in your life? Are you working on projects that give you joy and a sense of accomplishment and purpose? Are you living out your values in practice?’
Simply getting in tune with your own energy battery, by regularly asking yourself these questions, can go a long way in spotting the signs that burnout is looming – and taking action before it sets in.
‘Check in with your energy battery like this, throughout the ups and downs of your day, and just notice,’ Katy recommends.
‘When you do this for a few days in a row, then a few weeks, you can start to notice patterns and energy rhythms.’
Once you’ve started to nail this, you can try energy management to boost your productivity and lower your stress levels.
Energy management is a simple concept – once you’ve learned to track your own body and mind’s energy levels throughout the day.
You simply look out for certain patterns, then adjust your day around when you feel the most and least energised.
Katy notes: ‘When do you notice your energy is most topped up? What are the high value activities you can plan to do in those moments?
‘For me I choose to do my creative thinking, planning and work on projects when I need to be most focused, when my energy is highest.
‘When do you notice your energy is most drained, what are the patterns? Work out how to schedule less demanding activities in those timeslots of your day or week.’
Finally, the energy battery approach is all about noticing when you’re running low, and using ‘top-ups’.
Just as you’d charge your phone when you can see it’s running low, keep your battery up throughout the day – in small bursts when you can’t pack in a longer recharge.
‘Take a break, stretch out your body, chat to a colleague, get some fresh air, eat a nutritious snack, put headphones on and listen to some music you love,’ Katy recommends.
Katy Murray is a diversity, equity & inclusion consultant specialising in women’s leadership development and author of Change Makers: A Woman’s Guide to Stepping Up Without Burning Out At Work
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