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Work-Life Balance: Do you have the energy?09 September 2013, by Wendy Mackey Jones
You are back from vacation, refreshed, full of energy, back to work... how does it feel? Do you feel like you’ve refuelled your energy stores?
To lead a healthy, balanced life that you can really enjoy and fully engage in, you need energy. What do I mean by energy? I’m talking about physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy.
They are like our pillars of well-being and if one pillar is running low on energy, you can become unbalanced.
In this article I’ll give a brief introduction to each energy pillar, why they are so important, and what you can do to support yourself.
› Physical energy
Being physically active, exercising, helps to increase your energy levels.
- following a healthy diet
- drinking enough water (80% of people probably suffer from low energy due to minor dehydration)
- balancing out the amount of alcohol you drink
- keeping a healthy body shape (40% of people in the Netherlands are overweight)
- having enough sleep
It’s all about keeping your body healthy!
› Mental energy
Being able to take a realistic and optimistic view of the world, and making the most of it enhances your mental energy.
If you have the mental flexibility and endurance to stay focused and concentrate on what’s important to you, it will help you to stay on track and move towards your preferred future.
› Emotional energy
Thinking confidently about oneself and responding positively to others, especially when faced with challenges or pressures, is the mark of someone with emotional energy.
It is also the ability to bounce back from negative or pressured experiences, namely resilience.
› Spiritual energy
Holding to your core values with integrity and following your passions stimulates your spiritual energy, as does being compassionate and understanding to other people’s needs and values.
For some, their spiritual energy comes predominantly from their religious beliefs.
The four energy pillars support each other
Trying to balance your energy across all four pillars can sometimes be challenging. That is why looking at energy from a work-life balance perspective is really important.
Here’s an example:
› You have just returned to work from maternity leave and have been given a great opportunity to work on a project, but it means that you’re not getting as many breaks as you would like. The work is intensive and needs vast amounts of concentration and focus.
› You are also the proud new mother of a 4-month old boy who is going through his first difficult teething phase. This means that when you get home, you have a restless baby and several weeks of bad poor sleep.
Photo by Flickr user Vic
› You find that you’re getting more and more exhausted (physical energy depletion) and begin to feel the domino effect of this:
- you find it harder to keep focus and concentration at work (mental energy depletion)
- you find yourself reacting negatively to some situations at work (emotional energy depletion)
- you don’t even remember the last time you spent some time just on yourself and you feel you’re losing some perspective (spiritual energy depletion)
In the 2013 Regus Work-Life balance survey, the Dutch population stated that more of their energy is being consumed at work by picking up additional tasks and they are spending more time away from their family. Maybe this is the reason they dropped two points from their 2012 ranking.
Often if one energy pillar is low on energy, it will affect another. Being aware of how much the loss of energy is affecting you is really important to your health and well-being. Having low energy levels for a long period of time is not sustainable.
Recovery time is the essential component of achieving a healthy energy balance. Think of it like this: in your day-to-day life you expend physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy.
If you don’t refuel, your tanks of energy will become depleted. The refuelling is your recovery time.
Our most fundamental need as human beings is to spend and recover energy
Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
Look for something that:
› Can fit into your schedule - Something you can do on your way home.
› Is a really small but significant change - turn off your screen and listen to music or mediate for 10 minutes!
› Is sustainable, even when you are really challenged (when you’re tired and being pressured from work and home).
› Gives you the sense of freedom & makes you feel like you’re really doing something for you.
› Meets your needs. What is it that you need? What is behind what you are feeling and thinking?
Keep your energy topped up - Keep Recovery time - Keep in balance!