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Discovering your Vitality: How to re-charge your energy
Author: Sally Redshaw | Editor: Leona Bishop
Just like a car struggling to start on a cold winter’s morning, from time to time we all wake up feeling totally drained, as if the batteries of our bodies and minds just don’t want to start! On days like this, even the simplest tasks feel like an arduous journey. It's a sentiment I’m sure we have all experienced, a time when the spark seems to dim. But have you ever paused to think about what it is that is sucking your energy? Are you perhaps getting sick? Did you have too many late nights? Are you overworked or stressed out at work? Is there a particular person you engage with or situation that zaps all of your energy?
Whatever the reason, understanding the source of your energy drain is the first step in combatting it.
In this article, we will look into the realms of energy, and explore the many possible reasons behind its depletion, and practical ways to reignite your inner vitality, all through the lens of Functional Fluency. I’ll give you a head start …. when you find your energy slipping away, it means that you are using your energy ineffectively by unwittingly taking a detour into what we call the 'Purple Pitfalls,' a zone where it's not doing you (and unlikely anyone else) any favours. To reignite your inner energy, you need to consciously steer your energy back towards what we call the 'Golden Five' instead – now this is a set of behaviours that can truly reignite your vitality!
Unpacking the Lack of Energy "What's been weighing on my mind recently?" I ask myself. “I feel like I am just not getting things done on my list!”
Do you ever feel like the burden of not getting things done actually creates its own obstacle for getting things done?! - Well, it is a factor for many, and one that creates a horrid cycle of exhaustion and stress, because when we are stressed, we get tired, when we are tired we create more stress, and that makes us even more tired!
Most Healthcare professionals recommend between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Are you getting enough? Do you regularly get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night? Do you struggle to fall asleep? Do you have thoughts whirring around in your head preventing your ability to relax? Do you wake up feeling energised and refreshed? Or do you wake up feeling tired and sluggish?
If you are waking up feeling tired and sluggish it could be due to a number of factors – stress, lack of routine, lack of exercise and poor dietary choices (including too much coffee!) could all be contributing. The fact is, that regular lack of sleep leads to poor performance, stress, hormonal imbalances, and negatively impacts our physical and mental wellbeing and for sure zaps our energy levels!
Perhaps, you are feeling a bit unwell, run down and under the weather…? Our human bodies are equipped with complex and intelligent signalling mechanisms which tell us when something is wrong - enabling the body to detect, respond to, and recover from various challenges, including sickness and infections. If we are feeling low on energy it could be that our body batteries are drained because they are using all of their energy to fight off illness and repair themselves. This is our body telling us when it is time to take a rest and reflect on what is going on. How often do you actually listen to what your body is telling you?
I know, I know, you don’t have time to be sick. You have a deadline looming, an important meeting to attend, you have kids to take care of etc., etc., It will be ok, you can just work through it ….
Does that sound familiar?! The problem is, that if we ignore the signals are bodies are sending to us instead of taking a day or so to rest, reflect and recuperate, we run the risk of things getting so bad that we have to take even more time off to recover – or even worse, needing more serious care. Not just that, but we also risk making others sick. How can we look after others if we don’t look after ourselves?
Perhaps you find yourself completely exhausted following a conversation, or maybe you had an argument? This is a big sign that you (and possibly the other person too) are not benefitting from this interaction and that there may be underlying issues or communication challenges that need to be addressed.
Or perhaps you are losing energy due to a continuous internal dialogue that seems to loop endlessly, like a tireless narrator recounting past events, analysing hypothetical scenarios, or replaying conversations. This inner chatter, whilst it is a natural aspect of human cognition, can really become a source of energy drain if left unchecked because they consume mental bandwidth without contributing to tangible outcomes.
This constant mental activity is like having a continuous internal debate without ever reaching a resolution - especially when dominated by self-doubt, rumination, or worry, and can create a persistent undercurrent of stress, zapping the vitality we need for proactive decision-making and meaningful action.
If these scenarios and excuses sound familiar to you, it’s time to call on Functional Fluency!
Time to listen, feel and reflect! The most beneficial and simple thing to do is to listen to your body and feel and assess what is really going on. Take a moment to pause and reflect on recent events or worries, and any emotions or feelings that come up for you. Feelings of anxiety can indicate high levels of stress. Feelings of pain, can indicate something physically wrong. We call this ‘Accounting’ in Functional Fluency, and by taking a moment to do this simple exercise, we can help pinpoint the factors contributing to your energy drop.
"Am I neglecting self-care?" Often, the hustle and bustle of daily life can lead us to disregard our well-being. Are you getting enough rest, nourishment, and relaxation?
Are you eating properly? Are you perhaps drinking too much caffeine or alcohol? Are you exercising enough?
I know these are also often life’s simple pleasures (chocolate, coffee, wine etc.), but the simple fact is that these are not giving you the right nutrients to fuel your body. It’s like putting diesel in a petrol car. The car will go so far and when all the petrol has run out and there is only diesel in the tank – it stops, it breaks-down. I’m not saying you have to cut out these things completely, they are fine when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, but they can lead to a build-up in toxins in the body which increases inflammation, and inflammation causes pain, and pain causes stress …. You see where I am going with this?!
Did you know that alcohol (even the smallest drop) can really play havoc with your sleep? It disrupts your sleep architecture and causes fragmented sleep. You may think you slept well, but the truth is that alcohol actually prevents restorative sleep.
In summary – a proper routine of diet, exercise and sleep can work wonders for the mind, body and soul – try it…. I promise!
What else are you feeling? Ask yourself, "Is there something in my life that no longer aligns with my values or passions?" A misalignment between your personal values and daily actions can also lead to a gradual decline in energy.
"Do I feel connected or isolated from my surroundings and those around me?" Loneliness or a lack of connection can drain our spirits. Are you in tune with your social needs?
The above are all examples of things that affect ourselves inside and when we are able to recognise, accept and understand our own needs we can set boundaries in place to prevent them from draining our energy in the future. We call this ‘Nurturing’.
How do we recharge our body and brain? Unfortunately there is no secret recipe for this part – you really have to figure out what works for you, and everyone is different.
Think about the last time you felt energised … what were you doing? What brings you energy? Is it going for a walk, a run or to the gym? Perhaps you feel energised after taking a power nap or a short break? Does chatting to a colleague or catching up with friends bring you energy?
I’m a terrible sleeper, so I always feel tired to some degree, but I do notice when my energy levels are really drained, and when I’m feeling like this I try and take a nap. And even if I can’t sleep, (although usually when I’m at this point I actually do sleep!), I am at least resting, I am not moving, and I am not burning so much energy.
I’ll be honest, I actually really struggle to relax, and when I say this, I mean I really struggle to do nothing. I always feel like something needs to be done or could be done in the time, so I have to be strict with myself and listen to my body when it tells me it’s had enough, before it has really had enough, and one of the things I have now turned to is practicing guided meditation 30 minutes before I want to go to sleep. It’s something that gets more effective the more you do it, and although I sometimes struggle with the breathing exercises or visualising things the guide asks me to, it does actually relax me, and I know this because I am able to ‘switch off’. For me, this is one way that I do ‘Nurturing’.
I’m also a wildly creative person, sometimes my head is swirling with a hundred different ideas at the same – not necessarily connected! I'm like a bustling train station of creativity, with trains of thought rushing in from all directions. Picture it as a lively carousel of ideas, spinning in a whirlwind of colours and excitement, each idea a vibrant horse going at its own pace. They may not be on the same track, but they all contribute to the dynamic and kaleidoscopic landscape of my creative mind … but embracing this passion and some may call it talent (I sometimes call it a distraction), is a way for me to recharge.
So whenever I am feeling drained when I have a task to complete, I tap into my ‘Spontaneous’ side and embrace creativity. I use it to either re-energise, and re-ignite my energy, or to think of new ways in which I can create structure to my day to allow time for me to complete my tasks, time for me to rest AND time for me to have fun, be artistic and reconnect with my passions – things that give me energy.
I am forever grateful to have an amazing support network of family, friends and colleagues (and some colleagues who I consider family/friends). In fact, the older I get, the smaller my network seems to become, and I think that that is simply because I choose to have relationships with people that are mutually supportive and give, rather than drain, energy. When we foster connections with people who uplift and support us, and surround ourselves with a positive and nurturing social network, it can work wonders for your energy levels. Stay away from toxic relationships and people that use those ‘Purple Pitfall’ behaviours that I mentioned earlier; ‘Dominating’, ‘Marshmallowing’, ‘Compliant or resistant’, or ‘Immature’, because all of these can ‘suck the life out of you’! (See our infographics below to read more about these ineffective 'purple pitfall' behaviours, as well as the five golden modes of effective behaviour!)
And lastly, whilst I don’t feel that this one is really relevant for me right now, it is important to regularly assess your Life Choices. Life is a dynamic journey, and as we evolve, so do our values and passions. If you notice areas where your behaviour is misaligned with your values or passions, take the necessary steps to rectify these discrepancies. This proactive approach prevents your energy from being drained in futile battles against elements that might just be simple differences of opinion beyond your control.
Remember to engage your 'Accounting mode' during these assessments to objectively understand what is truly going on. Furthermore, tap into your 'Nurturing' and 'Cooperative' modes to approach the situation with understanding and empathy. Being assertive and considerate in your actions will help you navigate these shifts gracefully. Instead of exhausting yourself in fruitless arguments and internal dialogues, focus on preserving your energy for endeavours that truly align with your values and contribute positively to your personal growth and well-being.
And some final thoughts … Here are some thought-provoking questions to help you figure out where your energy is going and how to change it for the better.
· In which aspects of life do I notice my energy dwindling the most? What are you doing? What is fuelling your behaviour? Identifying the triggers is the first step towards taking back control · Am I allowing my emotional reactions to dictate my behaviour? A conscious shift from knee-jerk reactions to mindful responses is the essence of Functional Fluency
· How might my recent decisions be affecting my energy levels and relationships with others?Reflecting on your actions in challenging situations can shed light on how your behaviour influences your energy
· What alternatives exist that benefit not only me but also others? A crucial aspect of Functional Fluency is considering behaviours that create a win-win outcome
And at the end of the day, if you find yourself trapped in a persistent lack of energy, why not consider reaching out to a life coach or therapist who can provide tailored support and guidance?, after all – that’s what they are trained for.
The journey towards reclaiming your vitality is a profoundly personal one, but by addressing your emotional triggers and choosing behaviours from the five effective golden modes (that benefit everyone involved), Functional Fluency equips you with the tools needed to reignite your inner fire.
So, take a step back, ask the thought-provoking questions, and embrace the path towards renewed energy.
Thrive at life! with Functional Fluency
Stay tuned for more insightful content on how Functional Fluency can transform various aspects of life. If you've missed any of our previous articles, you can find them here.