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My Happiness Project – February Energy

autumn detox

Back to my 2024 HAPPINESS PROJECT…

During the month of February, we are asked to focus on energy – as research shows that being happy has an energizing quality, as well as giving us the added oomph to pursue tougher activities. By contrast, if we are tired, drained, and stressed-out, every task feels hard.  We are living at that end of the spectrum more and more– pushing through tasks, getting through the week only for the weekend, leaving us feeling low and depleted for extended periods of time. Energy helps us focus, it allows us more patience, creativity and clarity to achieve our goals.

We are asked to notice when we tend to have more/less energy through the day and week…. for example, I am NOT a morning person. I never have been for any of my fifty years, and I don’t predict that’s gonna change. I am writing this at 1am, when the house is quiet and my mind is clear. I realize this about myself and try to plan my tasks accordingly.

Are you a NIGHT OWL or a LARK? When you know yourself better, Gretchen suggests you can set more reasonable expectations and plan your tasks for when you are feeling most energetic.

She also asks to list jobs you can do with and without much energy.  So, around the house, I can empty the dishwasher, load the washing machine, feed the dog, and read emails when I have less energy, but I like a clear head & more energy to reply to emails, to put laundry away, or to hoover the floors.  It sounds simple, but to ask yourself and write your answers down can reveal some unexpected answers.

The next question is,  What suffers when you feel tired or drained?   Is it your work, your kids, your exercise, social-life, or hobby? Does the house get messy, your partner get ignored, or dog goes un-walked? How about your confidence & self-esteem?  If you had 10% more energy, what would you prioritize, and why that??

Finally, the question of PEOPLE comes up… What people in your life energize you? What people deplete your energy? Make a list and be honest!

Sadly, sometimes people close to us are a real drain on our energy, and other people really lift us… even in short periods of time, and often without close connections.  This area relates back to our yoga philosophy, our chakra system and our energetic body.  For various reasons we can be lifted by another persons energy, or find our energy and mood plummets in their presence.

Same goes with activities- you can be energized by a walk even if you are left physically tired. Sometimes our energetic battery needs to be revved up to feel better and other times it needs to be calmed.   We need to monitor this so we know when and what to do to bring our energy into balance, or to rev us up when the energy is low.

Despite, or maybe because I have been in people-oriented jobs for the last 20+ years, I find people in general deplete, or at least require a lot of my energy. For this reason, I have always needed quiet time, alone-time to decompress in the car, time to write in my journal, look out the window… I like being alone, and I love peace and quiet. If I don’t get it, I become cranky and over-reactive.  One thing I love about teaching (and practicing) yoga, is that I can manage the energy of the group– I can lift it for Power Yoga and I can carry us into calm during Yin Yoga… the practice can carry, contain and help us learn methods to control our energy- through movement, stillness and breath.  I also love working with kids- who both demand and create a lot of energy.

All of this said, I focused on a few things I could guess were depleting my energy, and attempted to monitor and change them.

What did I do?

I added MOVEMENT BREAKS – despite teaching lots of classes, I still end up sitting more than I’d like throughout the week. So, I resolved to take breaks- a 1-song dance break, a dog-walk of 5 minutes or more, a shake-break– mimicking my dog and other animals– shaking out the arms, legs and then whole body for a minute or 2… and numerous water breaks (I never drink enough water, so wanted my energy to increase with my hydration)

Along with HYDRATION, I reviewed my supplements and decided to add a liquid collagen- for improved skin, hair and joint health, as well as a powdered multivitamin/pre & probiotic mix… as I am getting worse with age at taking tablets and these are both liquids consumed before my first coffee.  Speaking of coffee, I wanted to reduce my dependance on stimulants- ie.. Coffee, Diet Coke and sugar.  Common crutches that also serve as treats, but work against us energetically, as they always end with a crash… so as I increased my water, and my liquid vitamins, I endeavored to reduce the caffeine and monitor the sugar intake.

Finally, like most humans in 2024, I recognize the drain on my energy and the loss of my time through scrolling- whether it is comforting research of  vacation destinations or works of art, doom scrolling world events, or simply checking in on the lives of friends & family… too much time is going into my phone. I have to use social media to run my business and like to stay in touch with loved ones, BUT so much time is going elsewhere– I am sucked into ads and down rabbit-holes, and resolve to REDUCE PHONE USE.  Expert advice is to, only allow yourself a few specific times slots for social media, set a daily timer that cuts you off, store and charge your phone in another room or delete apps you don’t need.

I opted for the timer, no phone in bed, and periods throughout each day where the phone is in airplane or do not disturb mode, and could be ignored.

I hoped these changes would help me naturally increase my energy, reduce discomfort in my body (which then brings my energy down), and allow more time to sleep- as I have discovered my optimal amount of sleep is around nine hours… less phone could mean more sleep, more sleep will mean less need for stimulants….

By the start of March, I reviewed my progress.

Above all, I feel more AWARE of my energy and what drains it, and am left thinking that SLEEP MATTERS MOST.

I took the supplements without a problem, and found I naturally drank less coffee in the morning.

I was pretty successful with the movement breaks, and as silly as I felt dancing alone in my kitchen or shaking my body- these both made me laugh and lifted my energy instantly- especially with a favorite song! I like classic 80s Depeche Mode or The Cure to dance and drumming to shake… The dog hid to avoid being involved in these activities, but was happy for the walks.

The water breaks were less successful. I literally have to surround myself with water bottles to drink from them. One in the car, at the desk, on the counter, a cup at the sink in the bathroom, and one by my mat in the studio.  I allowed herbal tea, and sometimes just found myself drinking water warm.  In Ayurveda, the suggestion is that we should always drink warm water, and despite loving ice and cold drinks, I found it easier warm. With all of those efforts combined I reduced the caffeine intake considerably, and was able to allow a sugar treat or more easily decline one without ‘needing’ it.

I was even less successful with the phone– some days were pretty good, others very bad— I have had limits set for a while, but can over-ride them, and found that I still wasted more time than I’d like on the phone.  This will need to stay a focus as I move through the year, and probably through life, as we become more tied to our phones and all their ‘conveniences’.

I slept 8-9 hours a night and had slow, quiet mornings to a great effect as often as possible. I scheduled time for taxing jobs and time for relaxation and rest… and acknowledged the amount of people-time I could take in a given day.

Answering the questions and monitoring my behavior and energy throughout the month was helpful. I hope some of these changes have already become habits, and will keep them up. But it’s March now, so I must turn my focus to organization.  Check in again next month to see how it went.

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