Have you ever reached a point where your batteries are totally empty? I’m referring, metaphorically, to your internal energy reserves - mental, emotional, physical, spiritual.
Many overachievers can neglect to recharge our batteries until we hit that empty point. We throw ourselves so fully into our goals and pursuits that the basics of self-care fall by the wayside. We may only recognize that our batteries are empty because our bodies signal it to us, whether via sheer exhaustion, chronic back pain, or even a case of pneumonia.
What if we could monitor our batteries’ charge levels more regularly? What if, upon recognizing we’re below full charge, we could recharge readily before we hit empty?
For this blog post, I’ll focus on how each of us can check our charge level and find ways to recharge. With the continuation of COVID lockdowns, we may be stressed in ways that we don’t even realize and deprived of many of our typical recharge methods. So today, let’s get creative in looking at the practice of recharging our batteries.
Take a moment right now and imagine your internal energy and available resources as a rechargeable battery. Within that metaphor, ask yourself:
How much charge do I have available right now?
This question represents your charge check, akin to putting your fingers on the edges of a AA battery to see how much juice it has left. This is your diagnostic instrument.
Now, I’d like you to ask yourself:
What have I done today in order to recharge my batteries?
Anything that you come up with here is your equivalent of setting your battery up to recharge. This looks a little different for each of us, so you’ll need to personalize your recharge equivalents. Let’s dive into how you can extend these two questions into a regular practice.
Understanding Your Charge Level
The first step in managing your charge level sounds deceptively simple: check your charge level regularly. By creating a habit of asking, “how much charge do I have,” you won’t have to wait until you hit empty to recharge. You will be able to adjust and recharge as needed in response to wherever you are in a given moment.
There are two elements that can make this seemingly simple task quite tricky. First, you need to remember to check in with yourself. This represents a new habit, and it can be difficult to build a new habit that isn’t enjoyable in and of itself. In this case, it can help to use some scaffolding. You can check in on your charge level along with an existing habit like brushing your teeth. You can set a calendar reminder once per week that says “charge check.” Try out methods that work for you and see what sticks.
The second element that can make it tricky to check your charge comes from imprecision in the conscious cognitive check-in itself. You may ask yourself, “how much charge do I have,” only to respond “I’m close to empty, but I’ve run on fumes before and I can do it again!” Our inner narrators can sometimes have quite a martyr complex.
In this case, I’d encourage bringing physical elements into the check on your charge level. Try out a body scan meditation. Note - without judgement - how much sleep you need to feel well-rested and how close you are to that amount of sleep in any given week. Notice any habits you have that come with physical tension like biting your nails or hunching your shoulders. Those physical indicators can provide valuable input to cross-reference against your own perceptions. When they indicate that you are below full charge, it’s time to bring in your recharge techniques.
Finding Ways to Recharge
We each have different ways that we like to recharge. In general, I’ve observed that recharge methods fall into two major categories: the macro (recharging elements that derive from where you live, where you work, the people with whom you spend your time) and the micro (daily mindsets and practices).
On “macro” recharge methods, it can be helpful to survey the overarching elements of your life every 6 months or so to make sure that they align with your values. If any of these areas are greatly mis-aligned, you will find yourself consistently consuming a lot of charge to keep yourself running. I’ve written a guide on how to approach these macro check-ins here: https://www.victoriawobber.com/blog/new-years-intentions.
“Micro” recharge methods reflect your daily habits and practices. The activities that you make space for each day can greatly impact your general sense of well-being.
What activities recharge you? Here are a few on my list:
For each of us, this list might look a bit different. I have ensured that my list is lockdown-friendly to show how these recharge habits are possible even now. If you are stumped on where to start, start by taking a walk outside. Time outdoors can be surprisingly restorative.
As with any new skill, it will take two things to build out your abilities to check your charge levels and recharge: intention and practice.
Your intention here might be simple: “I want to be less stressed.” Your desire to manage your charge level may come from physical necessity if you are currently sidelined by exhaustion. Whatever your reason, I’ll offer the opportunity for you to start recharging today. If you put this off until tomorrow, it may never happen.
To start your practice, find something that you can do today. You may have to start small. You might just find 5 minutes for a walk down the block. You might carve out a few minutes to see if you can do a handstand. You might reach out to an old friend to catch up. Be patient with yourself and expand your recharge time as you start to get a sense of what works for you.
Let me know what you learn as you go!
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I'm writing this blog to share my perspective on career transitions, time management, and personal growth.