I’m sitting in my office watching the leaves fall of the tree and it is reminding me we are firmly in fall which is the busiest time of year for most people. Work ramps up, commitments outside the home increase and on top of everything, the kids still have to get to all their activities. If you are entering this season already exhausted, then it will quickly start to feel overwhelming.
We all tend to equate exhaustion to physical tiredness, but this is often not the cause. There are four systems that make up our energy levels – cognitive, emotional, physical and spiritual. Imagine you had a car with 4 gas tanks that were all connected. Each of these gas tanks could be at different levels but each needed some gas to run the car. If one became too low your car would automatically take some from another tank. That is what our bodies do to keep us functioning in our daily lives. The tank fills up with certain activities and the tank drains with others.
What are the different tanks?
Cognitive: This is how we think and what we think about. Thinking can drain us when we get stuck on a problem that takes a lot of brain power to solve. We can also get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts. Sometimes you might come home from work and you feel like you just need to veg because you don’t have any brain power left to figure anything out. That is because you have mentally drained your brain that day.
Emotional: This is how we feel about our environment and the people in it. It can be drained by our social life or lack of it. It can also be drained if we experience a highly emotional event whether it is a great one like going to a concert or a trauma such as a car accident or the death of a loved one.
Physical: This is the backbone of all our energies. Although all of them will pull from each other to keep us moving, the physical one tends to be the one that all the others draw from if they are low. Therefore, you might feel physically tired when you have not done anything physically taxing. It can also become drained from doing physical activity.
Spiritual: This is our deepest meaning and purpose. It is our belief system, what we think of the universe, God and our relationship to nature. It is also what we believe about our past and our future. It is where we get our hope. If you ignore your beliefs or do something outside of your belief system, then it will drain you.
How do I fill?
Filling each of these means knowing yourself. Each of us are different on what fills us because there are many factors including our own personal preferences. Start discovering yours by just asking yourself during an activity is this draining or filling? For me, sometimes attending a social function would be encouraging and filling and other times I need a good book to be refreshed. Learn yourself and start monitoring your own energy levels to be able to stop feeling exhausted and start feeling refreshed.
If you have been struggling with feelings of exhaustion for a while you might need extra support and to learn new coping skills to help find your energy and feel rejuvenated. Book your appointment with a therapist today to start on the road to being refreshed.
Trish Pauls, MA RP