Become aware of the telltale signs and stop your brownout with these 4 powerful self-care steps
We’ve all heard the term brownout. It’s a temporary reduction in power, known as a “sag,” created intentionally by the utility company to limit the amount of power flowing through stressed-out power lines. The power is still on, but it’s unpredictable. For instance, you might notice lights flicker or dim. This brownout scenario is created when there is an unusually high demand for power in order to prevent a complete blackout.
“What does this have to do with me?” Perhaps a great deal. It might just look and feel a little more like this…
It’s been a long work month filled with deadlines and after-hours meetings! There’s an endless “to-do” list that grows with each meeting. At least one of the kids is sick and the other(s) need to be shuttled to school and activities. Your partner needs your attention. Your parents have just moved into assisted living and want to know when you’re coming to visit. You’ve meant to keep up with your green juices and your workouts. Somehow there’s not enough time in a day and so your care is the first to go.
You begin to notice little “telltale” signs that your body is beginning to give out — the physical equivalent of “the sag.” It may start with insomnia. You may notice being cranky with family, friends, and colleagues. You haven’t been able to address your lethargy and brain fog, even though you have the sneaky suspicion it indicates something more serious. While you meet your deadlines successfully, you have no energy to celebrate, let alone pick a spot for the celebration. Welcome to your personal energy burnout.
Sound familiar? Do you find that you cycle back to this state all too often? The power is on, but it’s heavily diminished. How different might your life look if you used these symptoms as your “Early Warning System” — a gentle, or not so gentle, reminder to intentionally remove yourself from the fray of life and reboot your system?
Here are four simple steps to craft your Emergency Response Plan (ERP) to help you course-correct when you find you’re headed full speed into that proverbial wall.
1. Do an ‘Energy Survey’
Take a moment. Sit and close your eyes. Where do you notice the stress or anxiety in your body? When is the last time you had a nourishing meal? If you looked in the mirror, would you recognize yourself?
Some physical signs that should trigger your ERP:
- Poor concentration and decision-making.
- Excessive mood swings, frustration and edginess.
- Inability to remember the last time you slept through the night.
- The feeling of being overwhelmed by anything and everything.
- Feeling alienated from friends.
- Feeling the need for that second glass of wine just to unwind.
- Forgetting to eat. Eating unhealthy food out of convenience.
(For a more complete list of common signs and symptoms of stress, visit https://healthscript.wordpress.com/2011/06/20/stress/).
2. Make a self-care emergency kit checklist
Be well prepared in advance for your reboot.
- Meals — Stock the cupboards with nourishing foods and ingredients. Prepare healthy snacks in advance. Don’t count on take-out food, which can hide calories and leave you feeling bloated and fatigued. If you like to cook, let the food preparation be part of the therapeutic time. If not, prepare in advance, so it’s not just another task on the list.
- Out-of-office memo — Activate it and don’t look at it again until Monday. Everyone is entitled to down time.
- Pampering supplies — Me, I enjoy meditation and a candlelit bath. What is it for you…taking a long hike, snuggling up with a good book, napping in a hammock, etc.?
- Limit visitors and ask for support — Ask family and friends to support you in this “reboot.” Remind them they will all appreciate the departure of your snippy self and be grateful you have a newfound attention span for them.
3. Clear the decks and power down
Eliminate anything that is non-essential in your daily routine. When you turn off the apps that are running on your phone, you can gain additional battery life. It’s no different here. Your ERP needs to include less. Much less! Remove the obstacles in your path preventing you from renewing your vitality.
So, what could you let go of without the world falling apart? Here are four of my favorite suggestions for how to simplify when life gets crazy:
- “Media fast” — It’s hard at first. The temptation to check your texts and emails is intense. Turn off the electronics and tune into yourself. This isn’t meant to be time to binge-watch a TV series or surf the Internet.
- “Triage” meetings and phone calls — Figure out which calls and meetings must absolutely happen. See to it that they are dealt with. Then eliminate any that are non-essential or reschedule those that can wait until you are “rebooted.”
- Identify “open tasks” — Any tasks that are in progress take up your attention and deplete energy. Finish them or decide they are no longer important to complete. Take any necessary steps to eliminate the excess brain clutter.
- Identify any areas where you are multitasking — Multitasking is often a mask for procrastination, and studies have shown that you not only drain energy reserves but you are actually LESS productive than when you do one thing at a time!
4. Plug into ‘UPS’ (Uninterrupted Power Source):
- Sleep — The best source for ramping up your energy is a great night’s sleep. Create the conditions – clean sheets, eye mask, a good book, etc. Whatever you need to catch those much-needed zzz’s.
- Momentum follows movement — This will be different for everyone. For me, yoga, the elliptical machine, or a walk in nature all work. What gives you a sense of balance and vitality?
- Hydrate — General rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces. Your body is made up of 70 percent water, so it goes without saying that this is key.
- Meditate — Your ability to quiet the chatter of your brain lets you release concerns about the past and future. Just be in the present and relish the quiet.
When executed over time, your Emergency Response Plan (ERP) will help you put the brakes on brownout. You’ll tap into energy-rich states of vitality and keep connected to your passion and purpose so that you have the energy to serve at your highest level.
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