By Sayyida Bano – Health & Wellness Coach
Before your feet touch the floor after a restless night’s sleep, your mind has rushed through a multitude of errands, to-do-lists and daily chores which need to be done. Feeling exhausted at the mere thought of them, you just want to crawl back into bed!
But, you know the kids need waking; lunches need preparing; breakfast demands need to be met; and the school rounds need to be done. You rush downstairs to make your usual route into the kitchen, and turn on the kettle. You go to grab the milk from the fridge, only to discover that your spouse has forgotten to buy it again. “Aargh!” you scream, angrily banging your hand on the kitchen counter-top. “How many times do I need to remind him to buy milk? How am I meant to function without my coffee? The kids won’t have milk for cereal now either!”
A hundred and one thoughts rush through your mind at great speed. You try to compose yourself and manage to get the kids up, dressed, fed and out of the house with regimental precision. This accomplishment helps to elevate your mood. With a few minutes to spare you check on your Facebook posts. “Maybe it will be an okay day in the end,” you say to yourself.
Out to the car you go, with the kids in tow. You turn the car onto your usual path to school, only to discover that the council are doing some emergency road work. There is a stream of traffic built as far as your eye can see! Now, you feel your heart pounding and your head thumping out of sheer frustration.
“I knew it was going to be a bad day,” you think. “After all, it started on a bad foot with the milk! Why can’t he do anything right? He does this all the time! He can’t seem to remember when things need to get done! Why do I have to remind him all the time?”
A barrage of thoughts begin to bombard your mind again, you feel the tension building as if your head was ready to explode. “BE QUIET!” You shout at the children, who abruptly cease bickering about who is going to sit in the front passenger seat on the way back from school.
You pause. Taking a few deep breaths, you realise that your state is certainly not helping the situation. You re-calibrate, looking at the situation for what it is and bringing your consciousness back into the present moment. Then, you decide on the best alternate route to the school.
After all of this, at last you make it home. The morning has been quite the adventure! The school round alone took an extra half an hour, and now you are faced with a barrage of daily chores. There’s the pile of dishes in the sink; the beds that need to be made; the vacuuming to be done; not to mention the dusting and laundry awaiting your attention. You find yourself quickly reverting to autopilot in order to make the tasks seem more bearable.
At last the evening arrives. You sit down with the family for dinner, and enjoy planning a half-term holiday trip to someplace nice. The prospect of something to look forward to after such a busy half-term feels uplifting. Surprisingly, there is little fuss about who needs to help with the clearing and washing up of the dishes. As for you, you are just anticipating some much deserved relaxation, while watching your favourite soap a little later.
Then your husband reminds you that guests will be coming on Friday evening and will be staying the night as they are passing through town. He forgot to mention it earlier, but says he knew you would be okay with it. You start to complain about how tiring it is for you to manage with kids, the chores and now guests. Your spouse reassures you that he will help with the guests. Instead of helping, this exasperates the situation, as you abruptly remind him, “You can’t do a simple thing of remembering the milk! You expect me to have faith that you’ll help with the guests? Fat chance!”
Annoyed and frustrated, you cancel your plan of watching your soap and instead make your way to bed to have an early night. Exhausted and drained, you slump your head on the pillow. “Tomorrow is Wednesday – Ironing Day,” you remember. You console yourself with the thought that its just a few more weeks before you can go on that much-deserved break. “Perhaps the guests will cancel at the last minute, or their car may break down to prevent them from travelling,” you pray before nodding off.
This example or something similar has become all too common for millions in today’s society. People who are living seemingly “successful” lives with families, homes, cars in the garage, reliable health, etc. Despite their success, they’re in a survival mode emotionally. Their energy is depleted and they frequently feel tired and over-loaded with the pressures of daily life. This largely unfulfilling quality of life stems from not giving enough importance to managing our thoughts and feelings.
If we look at the above example – how much of the inner dialogue came from the reactions of an mismanaged mind? Are we using our mental and emotional energies efficiently or inefficiently? Which thoughts and feelings are contributing positively to your quality of life and which are producing stress?
The truth is, this sad state of affairs is not entirely our fault.
Very early on in life, most of us are taught to be careful about what we put into our bodies. We are taught about healthy and unhealthy foods, which ones are good for us, which should be taken sparingly, and which should be avoided altogether. We learn that having a balanced diet is key to proper nutrition and important for our physiological health.
What we are rarely taught is that the thoughts and emotions which we consume are equally, if not more important. Our mental and emotional diets determine our overall energy levels, health and well-being to a far greater extent than most people realise.
Whether we are aware of it or not there is an energy economy game continuously taking place inside of us. Our inner experiences throughout the day include countless thoughts and feelings which are having a positive or negative effect on our energy levels. These thoughts are either depositing or debiting from our energy accounts. Although the type of thoughts and feelings we are having are not that easy to keep track of, when we begin to become more self-observant we learn to distinguish the thoughts and feelings which are deducting from our energy account from those which are boosting them.
Physiologically, when we put our body in a certain degree of stress, our energy reserves which are needed for maintenance, repair and regeneration of our biological systems are redirected to help us confront our stressors. Continually channeling this energy into the stress pathways depletes the vital energy needed to support regenerative processes. Hence, we are unable replenish the resources we have lost, and repair damage to our tissues protecting ourselves against disease. “The synthesis of new stores of proteins, fats and carbohydrates is halted; the repair and replacement of most kind of cells are diminished; bone repair and wound healing is slowed; and levels of circulating immune cells and antibodies fall.” (Sterling, P., and Eyer, J. Biological basis of stress-related mortality. Social Science & Medicine. 1981; 15E3-42). Ultimately, what we experience in the long run is that stress depletes our system and can be severely damaging to our health.
We often overlook and give little importance to the power of the heart and heart-based emotions such as love, appreciation, joy, gratitude and care. However, when we activate these emotional states within us we are allowing the electrical energy of the heart to work for us. By consciously choosing a core-heart feeling over a negative feeling we can cancel out the negative effect that damages and drains our system. Instead of placing a great deal of pressure on our mental and emotional systems, we allow the heart-based emotions to enhance the body’s natural regenerative capacity to do what it was designed to do – heal, nourish and replenish us. As our entire biological systems come into alignment with these beneficial emotions we begin to experience a powerful new level of energy efficiency. What starts off as psychological nutrition is providing physiological nutrition at the most fundamental level. This significantly impacts the amount of wear and tear on the heart, brain and other organs of the body. This, in turn, increases efficiency and coherence, which eventually optimizes the performance of other bodily processes. Hence, the way we accumulate and use our vital energy reserves is a key factor in determining the quality of our lives.
Most of us fail to make the link between emotions and our energy levels. On a subtle level we may realise that when we feel excited or enthusiastic our energy levels go up. Yet, how often do we associate the emotions we have experienced with how drained we feel at the end of a busy day? How many of us engage in an analysis of our emotional life on a regular basis? Do we know why we have no energy at the end of a busy week? How many of us ever ask, “How many times did I allow myself to get frustrated over the mess the kids left behind after playing?” or “Well, I got angry three times this week on Monday, Wednesday & Thursday; and I was too anxious about the dinner party that I prepared for all day on Friday. With that type of emotional mismanagement is there any wonder why I feel so drained and exhausted?”
It is vitally important that we begin to form a new habit of noticing our energy drains and gains on a regular basis. This new awareness will benefit us on many levels. We have to accept responsibility for our own energy expenditures. Every day we wake up with a certain amount of vital energy to expend. How we choose to do this is up to us. It is our choice whether we expend it in thoughts and feelings which deposit positively into our energy accounts, or whether we spend it in those that deplete our energy reserves. Allowing incoherent thoughts and feelings to pass through our bodies will dissipate our internal energy quickly. On the other hand, coherent thoughts, perceptions and emotions not only save our energy, they also help to keep our biological systems in sync.
Ultimately, nothing can take place without energy. Only by coming to a full understanding and appreciation of the value of energy can we begin to govern our lives consciously, learning to channel and direct our energy in a way which works for us rather than against us.