Solving the emotional energy crisis

Call it a personal energy crisis. On the surface, your life seems full enough - maybe even too full - yet you're running on empty. You feel stretched thin, stressed-out, drained.

Sound familiar? It's an epidemic. The most common complaints people bring to our doctors are: "I feel tired all the time," and "Why do I feel so blah?" Once possible physical causes of fatigue have been ruled out (a crucial first step), many doctors diagnose mild depression and reach for the prescription pad. But is this really depression - or just depletion?

Energy drain: Other People's Expectations

Are you living someone else's dream for you? You're putting out energy but starving emotionally. The other person gets all the satisfaction.

Energy move: Declare Independence

You bought in; you can set yourself free. No confrontation needed, just "I don't have to expect that of myself." Worst case scenario: Someone who's not you will be disappointed. You will feel wonderful.

Energy drain: Loss of Self

As kids, we had to play by the rules; our unique energy got caged.  

Energy move: Personalize Your Life

Ask yourself, If it were up to me, what would I…hang on my wall? Wear to work? Do for fun? Find the pockets of freedom where you can be more yourself. 

Energy drain: Deprivation

Duties and responsibilities fill your days. You gain weight trying to get emotional energy from food.

Energy move: Add Pleasure, Beauty, Fun

Satisfying experiences, large and small, are the real nourishment you crave. Plan a big treat to look forward to - and a little one every day. 

Energy drain: Envy

We often don't feel envy directly - but we might find someone else's good fortune depressing.

Energy move: Count Your Blessings

Comparison is a loser's game. Look at what you have, and actively feel grateful. (P.S. That person you envy - you don't know how messy her life really is. Chances are you wouldn't want it if you had it.) 

Energy drain: Worry

When you worry, you think you're dealing with things, but you're just suffering. Worry never comes up with good ideas. It torments and exhausts us.

Energy move: Get Going

Action is the cure for worry. Do one thing that brings you a step closer to coping. If it's the middle of the night, get up and write a to-do list.

Energy drain: Unfinished Business

Unmade decisions and postponed projects drain you.

Energy move: Do It or Dump It

Forget the perfect decision - just trust yourself and make a choice. Put projects in an appointment book. If you can't find any good time, that's a signal you don't want to do it. So don't.

Energy drain: Overcommitment

You're always saying "Yes" - to your boss, mother, kids, friends; to requests, favours, meetings.

Energy move: Say "Yes" to Yourself

Tell someone else "No" every once in a while, just to feel your own power. You'll gain a whole new sense of your ability to take care of yourself.

Energy drain: Holding On to Loss

Fresh loss is an emergency. But old losses you can't let go of are dead weight.

Energy move: Cry All Your Tears

Indulge in big-time mourning. Take off from work, stay in bed, and do nothing but cry till you're dry…and bored. Then go out and embrace life.

Adapted from The Emotional Energy Factor, copyright 2003 by Mira Kirshenbaum. Published by Delacorte Press.