How aware are you with your energy level?
On the 25th of April, Extraordinary Life, a student association focused on self development, partnered with StayRotterdam, an online platform for the Rotterdam community to come share interests and activities, to organize an Energy Management event.
This event was led by coach and trainer Daniela Klauser, from self-founded company Conscious at Work.
The event started with everyone briefly introducing the energy-related challenges they are facing. Daniela used this to tailor the workshop to the specific group. Common themes discussed were having low energy, low motivation, different energy peaks and lows, and lack of sleep. Not only were they themes among attendees, but can be paralleled in many students facing quarantine in these times.
Daniela highlighted a common misconception about time management - we need to get as much done and as soon as possible. But when coupled with feelings of stress, pressure, and “not feeling good enough”, emotions begin interfering with our sense of control and clarity in our productivity. Daniela shared with the group how personal energy mastery is a key to determining how our emotions can help us instead of draining us. It is about finding the balance between spending and recharging energy. It is about understanding what challenges and nourishes us, and about finding equilibrium between doing (activity) and being (restoration).
The better we know ourselves, and our energy drainers and givers, the more we can direct our focus, including our energy, in the right direction. If we know ourselves, we will feel under control, we will spend energy more consciously and we will then feel energized, empowered, and engaged. Simply put, we will be motivated. The session then moved to the topic of energy management. That is, identifying energy drainers and sources of stress. This can be done in four main areas:
Physical (nutrition, movement)
Spiritual (purpose-filled work, intrinsic motivation, joy)
Mental (optimal brain engagement and focus, awareness of limiting beliefs)
Emotional (awareness of perspectives and values).
These sources of stress can be organized using an “Energy Mastery matrix”. It helps provide structure to the sources of stress to become more aware of what gives and takes a lot of energy.
Of the external cues to protect ourselves from a perceived threat, Daniela focused on mental and emotional. She explained how we need to find our own personal emotional and mental energy drainers, such as things that cause us to feel fear, worry or anxiety. She used the example of the “flight or fight” response. When we experience a negative emotional reaction to something we care about, our bodies go into survival mode. The sympathetic nervous system activates making it difficult to access the part of our brain responsible for executive decision making. Instead we become vigilant to external cues protecting ourselves from stress.
Our stress body response struggles in this state. Daniela emphasized that in this moment we need to find a way to reduce our body response and turn it into a restore and rest process. This is done by identifying our sources of stress, forming in emotional, mental, or physical ways. Once we identify these sources of stress, we can become aware, gain focus, and perform with high productivity.
If we are aware of what stresses us, we need to find what works for us to calm such reactions from the body. At this point in the workshop, an open discussion started where everyone started giving each other tips on how to manage stress. For those who identified their cause to be an emotional one, Daniela explained how changing the mindset from stress and fear to one of fascination can help work with your emotions to not let them paralyze or control you. By using your words you can alter the perspective from negative to a positive one. If it is a mental cause, it was suggested to take a “brain break” - a silence to restore your energy levels. This entails time without a screen and physical exercise that takes time away from cognitive production. It also helps to process what has happened. If the cause is either physical, mental, spiritual or emotional, one simple technique of managing your breathing can also make a difference. For example, the 4-8-7 technique. This yogic technique can help activate the rest and restore response without much effort. Emphasizing the belly for inhalation and exhalation can help move from a reaction to a response.
Daniela stressed that it well depends on the individual and their specific stress cause to be able to overcome it. Identifying what is holding you back and what strategies work for you best can help determine how to perform sustainably.