Take It Easy-Managing energy levels

Wednesday, July 10, 2019
If you are now singing the Eagles tune under your breath, you're welcome!

This morning I woke early, early, early suffering from both a bad cold, and my-six-year-old-got-in-bed-with-me-and-left-the-door-open-and-the-hallway-light-was-on-itis. So, I wrote in for a sub for work, because I cannot be effective and kind, which are starting points for an acceptable workday, and I am in pain and dying (probably not). 

Part of me started running over all the silly things I have read and my head tried to tell me this was nature's way of telling me to relax and take it easy. But upon further thought, I realized it was probably that a cold virus got on a doorknob or shopping cart, I touched it and touched my face and voila! Sick! And I do take it easy. I can relax with the best of them, although apparently only about certain things. A few weeks ago, my husband and I got into an argument, because, as I let him know, he wasn't "being efficient." He found great humor in that, and it did sound a little silly coming out of my mouth, but at the time, it was seriously irking me.

But it did get me thinking about the work/life balance and how much is enough and how much is too much. I suppose this is a very individualistic thing. 
I am extremely work-oriented (meaning I derive my identity through work, not family) and at times get frustrated because I feel like I am not successful enough in that arena  When I come home, however, I want to sit and soak up the sun. Or rest on the couch catching up on the newer episodes of the X-Files. But I have these kids, and man, they need attention, too! We just signed my nearly seven-year-old for gymnastics (he wants to be a ninja) and the thought of dragging my introverted self out to sit with a bunch of other parents every Monday night isn't fantastic. But if I have learned anything from past regrets it is that I need to do it. On top of that, while my house is a mess, I can only tolerate so much mess, so there is regular daily work to be done on maintenance.

Getting Started
Mindtools has a great article Finding the Right Work-Life Balance which could be useful if you are just getting started or like to have a structured plan.


My personal struggles include Time-Energy and People-Energy. What do I mean by this?

Time Energy
First, I am a morning person. I have been this way all my life. I try to make the most of it, by writing in the morning, working on my small business in the morning, and getting to work as early as possible. I can whip things out in the morning like noone's business.  But come afternoon, I am done. My body is ready to just stop. One drawback to early morning work, is noone sees it. If I get to work an hour early, noone else is really aware of the time I am putting in because most people are not morning people. They only see the afternoon slump and there is still a lot of time left and things to do in the afternoon and evening. I am a mess by the kids' bedtime. In the past several months, I have become more productive by having one or two targeted cups of coffee after work (but cutting down during the day) , and cutting back on calories. Surely having a little less to carry around has to be helpful. 

People Energy
I work a very extraverted environment. I am sort of not. Although I can concentrate when I put my mind to it (to the point of not even registering the people talking to me), when I am sitting in my office surrounded by people, my play center is activated and I get very stimulated . Sometimes I think about just taking my laptop and locking myself in a small bathroom somewhere, but then, how would I access the printer? Additionally, after interacting all day with people, I am out of energy and words for people. I am tired of listening to tone and inflection and reading faces and body language.  I just want to sit quietly and not talk.  However, I then go home and have to interact even more with the people who it is actually all about and I am beat.  Now those two things may seem contradictory, but they are happening. I don't know how to fix this just yet. Some people wear headphones, but that is so pink-collary. Maybe just changing my expectations, and nodding and smiling, whilst tuning people out is the way to go. But. I. Always. Get. Sucked. In.

The two things I have found especially detrimental are too much coffee (because I get jittery, weird, and anxious), which I love, and too much sugar. I have been cutting calories, but allowing myself to eat whatever I want over the past 5 or 6 weeks (11 pounds down!), and I have found sugar is the biggest enemy of energy. It feels amazing at first and munching on a chocolate chip cookie makes my brain light up with joy, however, after eight cookies (I counted the calories!) and an hour or two later, I feel awful and sluggish and just want to go rest in bed.
Also if I have a feeling I might have trouble sleeping all night I take a Benadryl. This is usually hormonally related for me.  There always seems to be a week or so when anxiety is high, sleep hours are low (which I firmly believe causes more anxiety), and emotions are raw (because so very tired). Making sure I get enough sleep during these times is imperative, even if I do get a Benadryl hangover which makes getting out of bed painful (I'll still do it. Such a morning person, I am ). 

The Takeaway
  • Figure out your high  energy times. Pour your energy into those times and accomplish as much as you can during that time.
  • Balance your people time. You know your needs. If you are an introvert working in a highly extraverted environment-take care of yourself and your needs. Plan some down time, even if it is just taking the long way home, or a nature walk before you pick up the kids. Sometimes I have to just go find a place to hide during my conference times, even if people think I am angry.
  • Check your diet. Too much caffeine and sugar can exacerbate energy problems.
  • Use caffeine, but use it wisely.
  • Do what it takes to get enough sleep. One night without enough is doable, but two or three can lead to problems with emotional regulation and anxiety. If you need help talk with your doctor. I take the occasional Benadryl during that PMS week and it has helped a lot (but sometimes I forget-and it shows!).
And of course, "Take it easy."

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