What fills and what drains our Energy Budget
What are the things that consume energy and what are the things that bring energy?
Last week I talked about the idea called “The Energy Budget”.
We all have an amount of energy that we have at our disposal for our own everyday life — I call it “The Energy Budget”.
You can think of it as your bank account or as a budget with a certain amount of money that can be spent for your everyday activities — except that instead of money, you’re using units of energy.
Going throughout our day and life, every activity and thing that we do requires some energy from us.
Here’s the article in case you missed it:
But it doesn’t go just one way.
As with money and bank account, so with the Energy Budget, there are things that require money and energy from us and there are things that bring us money and energy.
So let’s explore what fills and what drains our Energy Budget.
Things that require and consume energy from us
All kind of stress
When we experience stress, our body goes into Fight or Flight Mode, which is an evolutionary survival mechanism that enables us to survive in dangerous situations. Fight or flight mode triggers the body and adrenal glands to produce a cascade of stress hormones which drain our energy stores very rapidly to ensure the body has enough energy to “survive”.
Things and activities that we don’t enjoy doing
Going through the day, almost any activity requires energy from us — but when you do something that you don’t enjoy or even dread, it requires even more energy. On the other hand, when you engage in activities that you like, enjoy and feel passion and purpose for, that energy that you give into those activities circles back to you — we’ll talk about this later.
Being around toxic people
Some people can be quite “good” at consuming and draining our energy — Austin Kleon calls those people Vampires. Kleon suggests that if you hang out with someone and afterwards you feel exhausted, depleted and empty, that person is probably a vampire and you should banish him/her from your life forever.
Being in toxic environments for an extended period of time can be quite dreadful and energy consuming. Artificial environments, bright, blue, LED lights, bad air, no green spaces, no chance of resting our eyes — all these things can consume our energy at rapid pace, so it’s important to be mindful of it: take brakes from and counter their negative effect with lifestyle practices that we’ll talk below in “Things that bring us energy”.
With burnout condition, adrenal glands are weaker and they can’t produce adrenal and corticosteroids as efficiently, which results in poorer energy production and stress response.
Things that bring us energy
Food is our fuel, our money in the bank account, our Energy Points in the Energy Budget. Without food we wouldn’t have fuel and energy to live and do all the things that we do. But it’s not enough to eat whatever and just get enough fuel and energy in the form of calories. The food and calories that we consume should be high-quality: we should aim for whole, natural, minimal processed foods and avoid high-processed, modern foods.
Doing so, we not only ensure that we get enough energy, but also enough nutrients (macro- and micronutrients) which will enable our body to produce more energy from the food that we eat.
Quality rest and sleep
Quality rest and quality sleep are of huge importance for optimal well-being. During quality rest (nap, meditation…) and quality sleep, our body goes into restoration mode and recovers its energy. It’s like plugging your phone after a full day of usage to recharge its batteries. Sleep, especially, is of high importance — poor quality sleep won’t get us enough energy which we will need and use throughout the day.
If you can’t get enough quality sleep during the night, naps and napping are a life-saver to super-charge your energy levels during the day.
Joy, Passion & Purpose
This is in my opinion one of the most important things. As we’ve seen in the everyday life Budget Story in last week’s article, doing things that we like, enjoy doing and we feel a sense of passion and purpose for, will create energy. Even though we give energy into those activities, we don’t end up with a negative energy balance, since that energy circles back to us and fills us up. That’s why when we do things with joy, a sense of passion and purpose we feel like we’re not even using any energy.
Lifestyle can have a huge impact on our energy budget. Spending time in nature, being around people that we feel good with, turning off our phones and social media, taking a break or a sabbatical to disconnect completely. All of these can be a huge energy charger.
Mindset and “Spiritual” practices
We can also take advantage of the power of some simple mindset and “spiritual” practices such as mindfulness and meditation, gratitude, forgiveness or self-love practice. It may not seem as much, but these easy, small and simple practices can make a huge difference in providing us with some extra Energy Points.
There are also things that speed up energy consumption and things that slow down energy consumption.
Things that speed up energy consumption
Stress and Fight or Flight mode
Like we said above, when we experience stress, our body goes into Fight or Flight Mode, which triggers the body and adrenal glands to produce a cascade of stress hormones which consumes our energy stores very rapidly.
But it’s not just that it will consume our energy, it will also drain that energy more rapidly because fight or flight response demands quick and fast energy to “survive” here and now. So if we’re under a lot of stress, you will drain our energy budget more quickly.
Caffeine activates release of stress hormones in our body and therefore speeds up the consumption of energy. Caffeine also takes a loan out on energy from later on the day or from the next day. It’s a debt that has to be repaid.
Modern food and diet
Modern food and diet instead of giving us energy, drains our energy. Let alone being ripped off nutrients, because of being very high in vegetable oils, sugars and hIgh-processed ingredients, modern diet and food are also very inflammatory for our body.
Food intolerances are a strong stressor for the body and consume a lot of energy. The problem with food intolerances is that they consume our energy at an unconscious level: since symptoms of food intolerance are delayed — sometimes even up to 3 days — we are often not aware that food that we have eaten and doesn’t agree with us, is now giving us problems.
Inflammation in the body
In addition to being one of the main causes for disease and all-cause mortality, inflammation is also a high energy consumer. Inflammation in the body is like a fire: our body has to spend a lot of energy to put that fire out. The problem is not in the acute inflammation — e.g. from physical activity: such inflammation acts on our body hormetically and makes it stronger. The problems arise from chronic inflammation that are caused by chronic stress, smoking, environmental toxins, chemicals and most commonly modern diet.
With burnout condition, adrenal glands are weaker and they can’t provide optimal stress response, which causes stress to consume more energy from our body and more rapidly.
Things that slow down energy consumption
Rest & Digest Mode
The Rest & Digest Mode is the opposite of Fight or Flight Mode. When we’re in the Rest & Digest Mode, our body produces less stress hormones and more of the feel-good chemicals and neurotransmitters, which not only slow down the consumption of energy, but also create energy. Also, as the name implies, the Rest & Digest Mode puts the body in “rest mode” where it can heal, rejuvenate and replenish Energy Budget.
Mindfulness and meditation
Practicing mindfulness and meditation help us get less reactive to things. When we are less reactive, we can better control how much energy activities consume from us and we can better manage our mental response to triggers which also helps slow down the consumption of energy.
Doing things with a sense joy, passion and purpose
Doing things that we like and enjoy doing not only gives us energy, it also slows down the consumption of energy. It’s partly because feeling a sense of joy, passion and purpose produce less stress hormones and more of the feel-good chemicals and neurotransmitters, which not only create energy but also slow down the consumption of energy.
We all do things during the day that take and consume energy from us, as well as things that fill us, fuel us and bring us energy.
The key is to be aware and mindful of what gives you energy, what sucks it, how much Energy Points you have at the beginning of the day, what activities you have in your day and how much of them, and then try to balance your energy budget throughout the day, week, month, year and ultimately life.
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