Do You Know Your Vitality Vampires and Boosters?
Recently I wrote about reasons why we need to create and sustain vitality, today I am digging into how to drain it and how to quickly recharge it.
What Drains Your Vitality Battery?
Why would I want to know how to drain my energy?
Well, when we know what drains our batteries, we can create a plan to better manage those situations in the future. Creating a plan helps to decrease decision fatigue - another energy saving tip. We make hundreds of decisions a day. And decision-making can drain our mental energy. If we can come up with a plan for those decisions we often encounter, we save energy! We have a number of options for creating a plan.
We can plan to:
go into these ‘draining’ situations with a full battery to help us show up as our best selves,
take mini breaks during these situations to help top up or boost our energy,
recharge after the situation, or
do any combination of the above.
Knowing what drains our best energy as well as how to quickly recharge it helps us optimize our vitality so we can show up with our full and best energy for the people, the moments and the causes that mean most to us in the time we do have.
For myself, as a self-professed introvert, observer and morning person, I often found certain circumstances/situations, and even people, left me feeling drained.
For much of my life, I chastised myself for not being able to keep up with my friends who would go out late to fun (noisy) parties/bars/gatherings. I enjoyed it for a special occasion (every once in a while), but honestly, I was happier staying in and going to bed on time so I’d feel fresh and ready to go the next morning.
I’d also find myself wondering why I was so exhausted being in situations where I was around a lot of people or people I didn’t know well. I’d think back and wonder if I got enough sleep, or if I had eaten well or if there was something else ‘wrong’. And yet I had plenty of energy to get my work done, study, be on committees, play sports and talk on the phone with my bestie.
I can’t recall exactly when I learned about introversion and extroversion or circadian and ultradian rhythms, but it was a game changer for me. Introversion is typically manifested in more reflective and reserved behaviour and extroversion is typically manifested in more outgoing, talkative and energetic behaviour. Carl Jung suggests that everyone has both an extroverted side and an introverted side with one being more dominant than the other. Others suggest that there is a single continuum of which everyone falls somewhere along the line.
Vitality naturally ebbs and flows with ultradian and circadian rhythms. Ultradian rhythms is a recurrent period of cycle that is repeated throughout a 24-hour day and circadian rhythms complete one cycle daily. These rhythms are quantifiable, measurable physiological patterns that our bodies must maintain in order to operate effectively.
While ultradian rhythms vary in length (think heart rate, appetite, thermoregulation), optimal work focus cycles often occur in 90-120 minute cycles before the body and brain need a break to recharge. Working these personally timed recharge breaks into our days helps increases productivity and creativity.
When we think of circadian rhythms, the ones that are most linked to productivity are often related to whether you are a 'morning' dove, a 'night' owl or a hummingbird. 'Morning' doves having more energy earlier in the day, 'night' owls having more energy later in the day and hummingbirds having periods of enhanced energy throughout the day.
Knowing your strengths can also inform you of your vitality vampires and boosters. Your personalized top 5, signature, VIA character strengths often energize us when we use them. However if we overuse them or underuse them, that can cause the opposite effect. Much of my personal and group coaching is grounded in knowing these strengths. Take your VIA Character Strengths Assessment here.
Learning these things about myself helped make sense of the facts that I:
need a solid 8 hours of sleep (and don’t ask me to stay up past 10 pm)
need alone time to recharge
prefer quiet and calm to noisy and boisterous.
In short, when it comes to managing our energy (and time and priorities) and aligning it with what’s most important to you, It all starts with knowing yourself!
"To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom" ~ Socrates
How well do you know yourself –
are you an introvert or an extrovert or somewhere in between?
are you a 'morning' dove, a 'night' owl or a hummingbird?
what are your strengths and/or spiritual gifts?
what are your values?
what drains you and what recharges you?
The more we know about ourselves, the more capable we become of self-managing ourselves in a variety of situations. And knowing the signs when you’re nearing your capacity and how you recharge and re-energize make us even better self-managers.
What Recharges Your Vitality Battery?
Vitality vampires and boosters are activities or things that we reach for or engage in to help us quickly recharge and feel better. Vitality vampires are kind of like ‘easy buttons’ - those things that are easy to grab for or do and may feel comforting in the moment but often leave us feeling more physically, mentally or emotionally drained shortly after. Vitality boosters are those activities that we can do in 30 seconds or less to help boost our physical, mental or emotional energy to help us recharge and/or reset.
Like many things in life, there is often a fine line between too little and too much of certain things we do or consume when it comes to optimizing vitality and it varies from person to person.
Let me pause for a moment here. Before we go labeling vampires as bad and boosters as good, I will invite you to pause too. Vitality vampires and boosters can be both helpful and unhelpful - it depends on a number of things such as how often, how much, when, with whom, as well as the short and long term effects of engaging in or consuming them. That’s for you to decide. There is no right or wrong here. Knowing the line (fixed or moving) takes some experimentation and often changes depending on your goals/values and what else is going on in your life.
Here are some of my vitality vampires and boosters:
Excessive sugary carbs
Staying up late (especially when combined with another vitality vampire)
Excessive scrolling through social media
Overuse or underuse of a signature strength
Binge-watching the news
*note: these are okay every once in a while or in moderation (well, maybe not the snarking if we can help it). When used mindfully, in moderation, they can help to reduce stress and bring temporary comfort. However, when they become your ‘go-to’ coping mechanisms, they can make you feel worse in the long run and would likely benefit from further investigation.
Vitality Boosters (quick power ups you can be do in as little as 30 seconds or less):
Getting fresh air
Playing with a pet or child
Dancing to your favourite tune
Hydrate - drink water!
Going for a walk
20 second hug
6 second kiss
Using a signature strength
What are some of your vitality vampires and boosters? How will you use this knowledge about yourself to help you better self-manage in the future? I’d love to know.