Most people reach a point when they just feel spent. They feel tired, heavy- limbed, unmotivated and disillusioned. In reaching this point it’s not uncommon to find that a high stress, high activity and erratic sleep pattern has played its part. It may also have been fueled by a poor diet involving coffee to stay alert, alcohol to calm things down, easy foods that are too heavy in salt and sugar. It’s like a car running on vapor. There will come a point when it just cuts out because there’s no more gas in the tank.
There’s a relationship between energy and emotion in that one tracks the other. Good days are characterized by high energy, a sense of accomplishment and happiness. Depression, of course, is the enemy. Energy reserves become depleted and are replaced with lethargy, hope gives way to despair, positive emotions are replaced with everything negative.
In previous posts I have advocated both the use of exercise and the use of rest. At face value they may appear contradictory but it’s all about balance. The thing about energy, physical or emotional, is that it decreases if we do too much or too little. If you’ve ever just sat around all day getting bored you’ll know just how physically and emotionally tiring this can feel. Yet, if you’ve been running hot for too long and have effectively burned off your reserves, this is exactly what you may need.
Sadly, the times we live in seem to only value movement. When someone admits they are tired it can be viewed as a sign of weakness, but the very act of admitting fatigue (even if only to ourselves) is a good thing. With fatigue comes a higher likelihood of making errors, having accidents and poor judgment. Stopping and resting in order to recover is the obvious and sensible solution.
Building up energy reserves once they are depleted can take time. Anyone who feels drained both physically and emotionally will feel like they walking through mud and getting nowhere. Start slowly and build up and you’ll reach a point where physical and emotional energies work in partnership and grow. The more you do, the healthier and more clear-headed you’ll feel. Strike the right balance and you’ll build resilience and reserves of energy for times when it really matters.
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Jerry Kennard, Ph.D., is a chartered psychologist and associate fellow of the British Psychological Society. Jerry’s clinical background is in mental health and, most recently, higher education. He is the author of various self-help books and is co-founder of positivityguides.net.