Once every two weeks, a reminder pops up in my 2Do app, that says, “Check energy drains and gains.” I put it off for a while then, often just to have the satisfaction of checking something off my list, I follow through. I’m always glad I do.
“Check energy gains and drains” is my reality check, my sanity check, my core values check. I don’t know where I read it, but an author suggested listing all the things that give me energy and all the things that drain my energy, and to come back to that list regularly to take stock of how I’m living my life. I wrote that list three years ago.
My energy gains look like this:
- Eating high protein breakfast
- Spreading protein out during the day
- Eating every two hours
- Having lots of greens and fresh veggies
- Not eating too much before bed
- Downtime on the couch
- Sitting outside
- Good conversation
- Taking my supplements
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Time for spiritual practice
- Letting go of negative emotions
- Physical activity
I added to this list some oxytocin boosters I learned through self-compassion research. Oxytocin is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that makes us feel good. It’s free, and we can make it engaging in some really simple and enjoyable activities:
- Holding hands
- Watching a touching video
- Being generous
- Telling someone I like them
- Social media
Then I list my energy drains:
- Not getting enough sleep
- Being obsessive at work and home
- Busy mind
- Not exercising
- Eating foods that I have intolerances to
- Not stretching
It’s pretty simple: if I don’t do lots of things that fall on the “energy gains” side of the spectrum, I’m missing out. My day feels incomplete. And when I engage in “energy drains,” I’m not being mindful and I’m not taking care of myself. And the key is to not use the list as a way to berate myself for not taking more care of my wellbeing; it’s just a gentle reminder.
After years of practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, and checking my list once a fortnight, I am much better at taking care of myself. Of course I sometimes have obsessive days, especially when there is a lot to do in a small amount of time, but in the back of my mind I know that I’ll make it up to myself with some of that replenishing activity.
Why not take the time to write down you energy gains, oxytocin boosters, and energy drains? And check it regularly. It’s like resetting the compass to polar north periodically, checking to see if you’re heading in the right direction. No destination, just a mindful and compassionate journey.