Reclaim Your Mental Energy
What’s on your mind?
In addition to being a coach, I delight in doing work to support other coaches. As a part of my research for a workshop on Powerful Questions for Coaches, I read the book, The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. In it, he talks about the question, “What’s on your mind?”. He shares how this is a powerful way to start any conversation because when our mind is full, it often get in the way of our true engagement and presence in work and life. He also shares the findings of a 2010 study that asserts that anytime we have something on our mind, it’s literally using up energy. Even though our brain only accounts for 2% of our body weight, it uses about 20% of our energy.
So, if you’ve been wondering why you still feel so exhausted even when you’ve gotten ample sleep, this may be the reason. It’s not hard to fall into this pattern with everything that has happened and continues to happen in the world.
Over the last several months, I’ve noticed myself getting upset by anything that threatens the thin threads of peace that I fight so hard to hold together. I was assigning stories and meaning to every incident, stewing in anger and frustration at things that I wouldn’t have even noticed or allowed to affect me in the past. Agitation on demand.
Naturally, this was using up a ton of my mental energy, leaving very little for the things in business and life that I really needed to be saving it for and spending it on.
I’ve recently been testing out a few strategies that have been helping me to reclaim and sustain my precious mental energy.
Stop the Story. Every time something happened that I wasn’t happy about, it triggered this downward spiral in my mind. It was so powerful that I found myself starting to wake up thinking about how poorly it made me feel and anticipating discomfort. This is no way to start a day because it sets a funky tone. Now, when I feel the negativity creeping in, I literally say, “Stop!” Sometimes I even say it out loud if I need to. If my brain continues to try and force its way in that direction, I begin saying an affirmation or mantra to counter it like “I am happy.” or “I love my life.” Soon after the unhelpful thought clouds begin to part and ultimately disappear. *It is important to feel our feelings, don't stop doing that. This is merely a suggestion to put a halt to stop any untrue stories that we attach to things that have happened to us that aren't helpful in our healing.
Prioritize Nothingness. The best gift you can give yourself is time to do nothing. Pick a day, an hour, or even a few minutes where you allow yourself to do nothing, free from judgement or persecution of yourself for not being productive. Think of it like parking your car. If you continued to drive or run your car nonstop without letting it rest or stopping for fuel, it would certainly lose steam or get damaged after a while. The key ingredient to productivity and success that people often leave out is the importance of rest, and I don’t just mean sleep. Give your brain an opportunity to just be.
Embrace Your Quirks. Sometimes we spend far too much energy worrying about how others feel and what others think of us. This is understandable, but it’s troubling when we are holding back or not doing what we need for our own mental or emotional health, for the comfort of others. I’ve just embraced the fact that people may think I’m weird, disengaged, or anti-social at times. Their opinions are a small price to pay for the increase in my health and wellbeing that is a result of prioritizing what I need to thrive.
This week I challenge you to reclaim your mental energy. You don’t have to get dragged into every adverse encounter or go down every dark rabbit hole. Decide what you will and won’t allow in order to train your brain to relax and preserve the energy that you want to reserve for your greater good.
*Important Note: The first time I saw a therapist she helped me to realize that related to the depression I was experiencing, I was doing something she called negative processing. More formally, this is known as negative cognitive bias or negativity bias where we are more prone to focus on negative events and information even when there is an equal amount or more positive things occurring. If you haven’t already, it may be worth consulting a professional to assess how the pandemic is impacting your mental health and what is available to support your healing.
Master Your Mindset to Manifest a Life You Love. Most Sincerely, Monica Marie Jones Your Soul Journey Guide www.MonicaMarieJones.com