Life is lived going from one emotion to the next. Sometimes these emotions are like white noise, humming along in the background, but not super noticeable. Sometimes these emotions are front and center and we are aware of exactly how they are impacting our behavior. Most of the time, we’re somewhere in between.
Our emotions fluctuate throughout the day based on many things. And while we often can’t control the things that influence our emotions, we can manage many of them.
This is something I prioritize in my own life because I want to preserve as much of my emotional energy as possible so that I can truly show up and serve in the way that feels best for me.
Why Protect Your Energy?
When you feel like your emotions are being constantly hijacked, you can start to feel exhausted and burnt out. This can have a direct impact on your health and can lead to many other side effects as well:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disconnection from or irritability with those around you
- Decreased creativity and difficulty with problem solving
- Hesitation to take risks or do anything that might feel vulnerable (which can keep us from showing up in our work or social settings)
- Desire for behaviors or substances that can soothe, but might not feel so good in the long run
On the flip side, when you protect your emotional energy to whatever extent is within your control, you may:
- Have more capacity to connect with yourself and others
- Be more available to show up for your work in a way that aligns with your values
- Feel more empowered in your decisions and choices
- Generally feel a bit more optimistic about what lies ahead
Quick Emotional Wins
Fortunately, protecting your emotional energy can start with some quick wins.
What is a quick emotional win? It’s an easy way to protect your energy from the negativity that can drag you down and distract you from living your best life.
For example - one of my friends decided she was going to let her hair go grey during COVID, but every time she was on Zoom, she was distracted by her grey hair. She had first decided to go grey as a way to free herself from the constant upkeep of dying her hair, but she ended up spending so much emotional energy worrying about how she looked with grey hair, there was no real win in it.
The solution? She dyed her hair and cleared up that emotional and mental space so she was able to go deeper into the work she really wanted to do in her life.
Another example - a colleague of mine recently shared that she loved her "office" setup in her home and felt like she was in a separate space to work except when she was on Zoom and the camera reminded her that she was in her bedroom.
The solution? She didn't feel comfortable using a Zoom background, but she was comfortable using the "blur background" setting. It helped her stay focused on calls and kept her in more of a work mindset.
Can you think of anything that currently drains your emotional energy that you may be able to shift fairly quickly?
Some of my personal favorites include:
- Turning my camera off on Zoom every now and then
- Taking a few minutes to chat with colleagues to increase my sense of connection
- Wearing pants that fit my waist so there’s no pinching/tightness
- Scheduling a bit of time between meetings so I can take a bio break and get water without feeling anxious or rushed
- Saying "no" when I don't have the capacity to take on a new project
Protecting Your Energy on Social Media
There’s a lot of great stuff on social media, and having a way to connect with friends that support you is amazing.
We also know there is no shortage of posts that may leave you feeling angry, frustrated, or in comparison-itis.
I’m very specific about what I will expose myself to because protecting my emotional energy is so important to me. If I follow someone who’s content regularly causes aggravation, it might be time to mute that person from my feed.
I could do mindset work and emotional processing around the posts.
Or, I could (and do) choose to limit my exposure to them, once again, to leave myself more emotional space for the work I truly want to do.
In other words, I’m creating more emotional energy for the things that feel either unavoidable or super important by curating my social media feed (and staying off social media a lot of the time).
Things that get the boot from my feed:
- People who sell things by centering their privilege or their body
- People who promise quick fixes and fantastical “solutions” to complex problems
- People who use anti-diet culture language to sell diets
- Content that generally makes anxious
- People spouting nothing but negativity
There are a lot of things we can’t control, but there are many things we can, and avoiding someone else’s bad mojo on social media is one of them.Regardless of how fiercely you protect your energy, there will still be days that you feel emotionally drained. When that happens, remember to be kind to yourself and carve out some time for self-care to get you back on your feet.