By Cathy Patterson-Sterling, MA, RCC
Now that we are officially into fall, we say goodbye to the long, hot evenings outside by the barbecue and say hello to the short, rainy days of fall. One of our greatest challenges is to remain positive to change, whether it’s the seasons or circumstances.
Finding the energy to continue day-to-day tasks into the greyer months can be a challenge. To help you focus on staying energized and positive, we’ve compiled 5 helpful steps.
1. Notice Your “Drains” and “Rejuvenators”
In order to remain energized, we first need to be aware of our “energy drains” and “energy rejuvenators.” We can start by noticing our energy levels. Pay attention to when you are tired, negative, pessimistic, exhausted, irritable, or even apathetic, etc. What was occurring just before you started to feel drained of energy? When are the moments you are revitalized and filled with positivity?
Now create a list of “drains” and “rejuvenators” which includes all the people, places, things, and thoughts that either exhaust or revitalize your state of mind. Now that you have your list, here are some tips on decreasing energy drains and enhancing energy rejuvenators.
Decreasing Energy Drains
- Distract yourself from negative thoughts and fears
- Make a list of what you can change and focus your energy on that list. Let go of what you cannot
- Realize that fear is only useful in imminent danger. Stop creating negative scenarios that may not occur
- Stay away from people who drain your energy
- Learn to say “no” and stop “people-pleasing”. Instead, start using words like “no, I’m sorry, that will not work for me. I need..”
- Watch out for times when you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired and practice self-care
Enhancing Energy Rejuvenators
- Eat properly and remember to exercise
- Notice people who inspire you and spend more time with them
- Practice an attitude of gratitude
- Stop living the “I will be happy when…” formula for life. Allow yourself to be grateful for what you have now
- Be patient with fulfilling your goals
- Give back to others, rather than always obsessing about your own life
- Build in time to play and have fun in life!
- Engage in positive activities in which you lose track of time, such as art, writing, or other creative expressions
2. Staying Focused
One of the reasons why we become drained of positive energy is because we are overwhelmed and filled with fear. You may feel like a hamster on a wheel going nowhere. Do you have the sensation of “spinning your wheels” while not getting any closer to your goals?
The problem that occurs when people become overwhelmed is that they begin to lose perspective. In fact, the list of what needs to be done seems larger than the time allotted in a day. Often, individuals can feel like they are trying to catch up to life.
If you frequently feel overwhelmed, you may unknowingly be in reaction mode. An important technique is to just sit down with a tea/coffee, a notepad, and a pen. Write down all that needs to be completed. Instead of worrying about everything, prioritize and place a star beside what errands/duties/details need to be completed first. The most annoying and least satisfying duties can be spread out throughout the week.
There are plenty of other ways to stay organized. The following includes some tips so that people can remain positive as they contend with all their responsibilities rather than feeling overwhelmed or filled with fear.
Tips For Staying Focused:
- Be kind to yourself. You may be your own worst enemy with your expectations
- Prioritize what you need to do rather than getting upset about all the details
- Stop with thoughts of self-pity and how you are hard done by. Get others to help you and set boundaries with them if they do not do their fair share of responsibilities
- Ask for help
- Reward yourself in positive ways by building incentives for completing your to-do list
- Shut off your fears and follow your list for a while. Stop over-examining everything
- Take the time to eat properly and rest. Sometimes errands seem more overwhelming just by the mere fact that you are hungry and have no physical energy
- Remember that you have no control over other people’s actions. Focus on yourself and stop trying to control others
- Break down tasks into chunks and complete each chunk at a time
3. Being Careful with Your Thoughts
One of the greatest words of advice I have ever heard is: “What you pay attention to grows!” Therefore, if you spend much of your energy focusing on fears, then naturally fear will grow in your life. If you pay attention to all the positive characteristics in your partner, then your love and admiration for that person will grow exponentially.
If we want to enhance our energy and remain positive, then we will have to train ourselves to pay attention to all of the positive features in life. Below is a list of ways that we can enhance positive energy in our lives.
How To Remain Positive:
- Notice all of the positives
- Turn negatives into positives i.e. view the cup as half full and not half empty
- Turn mistakes or problems into learning opportunities
- Remember that all things in life happen for a reason. Focus on the reason and not the fear
- Consider how events in life help us to grow on deeper, emotional levels. How can you use adversity in your life to become a better person?
- Practice an attitude of gratitude
- Help others when you can
- When people act negatively, notice how they are reacting out of fear and show compassion
- Rather than getting angry at people, become curious so that you can gain a better understanding of where they are coming from
- Always remember, this too shall pass. Life is all about cycles and phases, and existing circumstances won’t remain this way forever.
Rather than being a victim of someone else’s negative behaviours, this may be your time in life to set boundaries for yourself. Perhaps your instinct of self-preservation needs to set in so that you learn to take care of yourself. Don’t allow a person to drain away all of your vital life energy as they absorb you into the constant chaos of their problems.
4. Letting Go
Some people still waste a lot of energy building negative scenarios of what could occur. They assume what other people are thinking, and then brace themselves for events that do not even come to fruition. Such an exercise is a waste of time. When we “brace” for problems, we often give in to negative feelings of fear, anxiety, etc.
Actually, the “real” problems that occur in life usually come out of nowhere and are unplanned. This way, we respond in the moment either with a “fight” or “flight” response as we accomplish what needs to be done to contain the situation, or we flee away in order to avoid more stress.
Therefore, the challenge in life is to not waste time planning for potential scenarios and to exact change where we can have an influence. This means knowing where our limitations for controlling others end. At some point, other people need to take responsibility for their own lives. When we try to manipulate others into doing what we want then we deny them from using their own internal resources.
There are times when other people may act irresponsibly and we feel the need to “take charge”. But if we stay in this phase of always planning their lives for them, then we feel drained of our positive energy because we are trying to change what we, in reality, cannot change. People are responsible for the consequences of their own decisions and we cannot run their lives for them.
5. Taking Time Off to Play
An important part of remaining positive and filled with energy is to take the time to have fun in life. With so many problems as well as responsibilities to attend to, many people struggle with having the time to relax or even have fun. One of the best terms I have found for increasing the “fun factor” in life is “strategic silliness.” There are times when we just need to let go and play.
Sometimes people hesitate to “let go” because they think that once they do feel carefree then problems will start to occur. Therefore, they believe that they have to be in a constant state of “bracing for” or “warding off” problems. They don’t want to let their guards down in case they have to deal with unexpected issues.
In order to feel vital, however, we do need to take time to just live in the moment of life. The following includes some tips for how to play and have fun in life.
Tips For Increasing The Fun Factor In Life:
- Visit your community as if you’re a tourist. Examine the tourist attractions and sites
- Take a day to be spontaneous
- Get in your car and just drive while playing your favourite music
- Participate in an activity outside of your comfort zone such as skating, horseback riding, bungy-jumping
- Cook your favourite food
- Create a piece of artwork
- Go for a bike ride
- Research the trip of your dreams and plan an itinerary
Let your imagination guide you!
At Georgia Strait Women’s Clinic, we understand the challenges of everyday life can feel overwhelming at times. If you’re struggling with mental health and/or addiction, visit our website or call us today to learn more about our programs and how we can support you.