If your car alerts you that fuel levels are low, do you ignore it and keep driving, hoping that somehow the tank will miraculously refill itself? If the smoke alarm in your house is activated, do you investigate why, or disable it, while the house burns down around you?
Why then when our bodies warn us that our energy levels are low, do so many of us ignore it and just keep pushing ourselves to the limit, becoming less and less productive? Why instead of listening to our body’s cries for help, do we often rely on dependencies (medically prescribed and self prescribed) to keep going?
What causes the relationship with our bodies to deteriorate to such a degree that we think of it as something separate to us?
Something to be driven to the limits, ignored like a nagging spouse, abused, sabotaged or feared?
For example are you aware that when you’re living a healthy, positive, well balanced life, among the multitude of miracles your brain performs on a moment by moment basis is naturally producing the neurotransmitter serotonin—and reabsorbing it? This ‘happy’ chemical motivates us, gives us courage to overcome challenges with confidence, helps us deal with pain and boosts our immune systems.
Stress induced depression occurs when your serotonin levels have dipped too low and that’s why antidepressants are prescribed—to help lift the level of serotonin back into normal parameters. While antidepressants have their place, and can even be life savers in crisis situations, the question to ask is:
If I had a more intimate relationship with myself and knew how to maintain my serotonin levels naturally, would medication be necessary?
Why do we wait until our biological systems are struggling so badly that interventions like antidepressants are needed to make life manageable?
Typically because we’ve lost the logical art of pausing for a moment and asking:
Why am I not feeling on top form?
Where is all my energy going?
What needs are not being addressed, and what can I do about it?
What are the implications if I keep doing this?
Who or what can help me regain a healthy balance in my life?
Do I need to make changes in my life, and if so how?
Albert Einstein was onto something when he said:
If I had an hour to solve a problem, and my life depended on it, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper questions to ask.
To solve problems you have to ask questions! Children know this. They question everything. That’s how they learn. So why stop?
Yes there’s a place for soldiering on, pushing through, building grit. But failing to balance this with reflection and recovery time is directly linked with the stressful impact of continuous cognitive arousal. This imbalance ultimately causes a decline in health and productivity.
Once your health has taken a massive hit, you have no option but to make extreme self care a priority.
You have to take time out, to restore your depleted energy levels, before you can move forward again.
Here are 6 self awareness habits that can prevent this happening.
1. Start and end your day with a meeting with the CEO of your life—you. If you do, you’ll pick up the early warnings of an energy leak.
2. Leverage your digital devices using apps like Offtime or Unplugged to schedule short recovery sessions throughout your work day.
3. Take a mini mental vacation every 90 minutes to recharge your batteries with a brief relaxation, hypnosis or meditation audio or motivational podcast.
4. Take your mental vitamins—schedule breathing breaks and audio affirmations at regular intervals throughout the day. Learn what makes your body and brain thrive—and integrate these principles into your daily life.
5. Leverage your free time too; don’t skimp on self care, relaxation, exercise, or vacations. This will enable you to maintain optimum good health and happiness—and increase your productivity.
6. Listen to your internal guidance system, and reach out for support – before the situation spins out of control.
If you don’t provide these self care resources for yourself, who’s going to?
So I’m leading by example and taking a few weeks off to unplug and recharge.