Thursday, December 2, 2010

Energy Drains

by Lisa Byrne at

As moms we all know that there are “seasons” in our life that are unpredictable– when weeks pass by like a breeze, everything clicks, time seems ample and everyone in the family unit is getting along beautifully.

Then other seasons blow in where the frenzy of things to do seems to knock your schedule out of whack, detours start to pop up, and you feel like your sucking wind just to get through the day.

When times start to feel a bit rocky I often return to a simple tool to help me re-access what needs to stay, shift or leave for the time being to regain some balance.

There are many good, great and better things that come into our lives, but not everything is always good for us right now. As sure as the seasons change, our lives are always growing, shifting and reordering. It makes good sense that not all things are right for us at all times.

I use this litmus test often to take stock of when things or relationships may have become imbalanced or negative in my life. Here’s the question I ask myself:
Does this thing or person give me or drain me of energy?

First, an important distinction. I do not mean does this thing or relationship require energy. Many good things take energy. I mean to emphasis the more subtle, deeper, kind of energy a thing or person holds in our life. Does the thought of doing this thing stimulate or depress you? After spending time with someone, are you more enlivened or drained? The energy shift you feel is the important part to consider.

I use this energy question in many areas like:

• when I have to reconsider what is on my plate
• when I need to decide what to keep and what to let go of
• when I feel overwhelmed or frustrated for too long with something
• when I have the growing sense that I don’t have enough time to get everything done
• when I am trying too hard to do something that should probably be coming a bit easier

I STOP, slow down, pay attention to what I am fitting on my plate and ask this question for everything that is not an absolute necessity.

Listening to our “energy” language is just as important as our body language...they are both part of our “inner language” that has wisdom to share.

What if I can't (or don't want) to take this out of my life?

As a mom, the truth is there are some seasons with our children that are simply more draining than others. Or there are some responsibilities to the job requirement that feel more or less thrilling, energizing or fun.

In these scenarios, the key is to dig a little deeper and think through what about this task feel most difficult or challenging. Is there something I could add, shift, take away or include that would make it easier. For example, could you light candles while you cook, do the pile of laundry on a blanket outside in the summer, or play music you love while you clean the toilets? Don't laugh, these little offerings make huge impacts on how you experience what must be done!

If it is a challenging or draining time with your children, try this exercise.

Think of the actual situation, the time of the day, what is happening during the interaction, the details of when things feel the worst. Then work on ways to alleviate the times when it is roughest. For example, if it is really tough when your child hasn't had a snack yet and dinner is getting close-- make it a priority to sit down for an early afternoon snack?

Or maybe it is when you feel tired or hungry and need some personal space. How can you think through the scenario and plan to give yourself what you need to be at your best?

Then the second part is to increase and emphasis the things that feel rejuvenating, energizing, and enjoyable with that person. If you love taking walks with them -- take more of them-- make sure they are on a daily schedule for a while. If you love snuggling and reading books-- make it a priority. Fill your day up with more of the energizing times and the draining times will become less and less.

How do you take stock and access what is weighing you down?

About Lisa

Lisa Byrne, MPH is a health coach who helps busy moms feel energized and take great care of themselves.

Lisa speaks to groups, leads workshops and teaches classes on healthy living when she isn’t burping, bouncing or chasing her 3 little ones around. You can get her e-newsletter and a free copy of the Break the Sugar Habit workbook here.

Visit her online at

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