EXPLORING YOUR VITALITY
By now you will probably have had time to think a great deal about the words health and wellness and what they might mean to you. But now I would also like you to think about another concept; your vitality. Many people are familiar with the concept of ‘vitality’, but very few understand exactly what it is.
For some people, vibrancy and vitality mean having more stamina and the ability to maintain a high pressure lifestyle. To others, it may simply mean enjoying good health and a greater degree of inner contentment.
My own interpretation is simply that our vitality is a measure of the quantity and quality of the life force energy that we have available to us. Having a strong vitality allows you to respond to the world around you with ease and to be able to adapt and change without undue stress. But these are just my thoughts. What is far more important is what the concept of vitality means to you.
What words or images come to mind when you consider your own vitality?
Are there any more words you would like to add for the future?
Perhaps you have noticed how many food products, herbal and nutritional supplements make a play on this word in their marketing campaigns, all in an attempt to align their product with something that is essential to life. In reality, of course, the best that most of these products can do is to stimulate your vitality on a short-term basis. Clearly, this is not the route to achieving a high level of wellness that is both durable and sustainable over time.
The good news, however, is that we all have the potential to enhance our vitality, to be even happier, healthier and stronger. Becoming more conscious of the quality of your vital energy on a day to day basis is a great way to begin.
ARE YOU ENERGY CONSCIOUS?
Do you ever end up feeling drained at the end of the day, or perhaps you are always playing catch up with yourself, never feeling that you quite have enough energy to do everything that actually needs to be done? These are common feelings and if your ‘energy account’ remains in the red, or unbalanced, then the long-term result can be exhaustion and ultimately a level of stress that is difficult to relieve. So what can you do about this?
One answer is to become more energy conscious, to become aware of how your energy is flowing, where you may be wasting it, blocking it, or letting it leak away. Then, of course, you need to discover what you can do about it.
Our energy, like our time, is an incredibly precious resource, and maintaining its flow is fundamental to good health. Yet however efficiently we may seem to manage it, there is still no guarantee that we will have enough to do all that we might like to do and for many people, it is often a lack of energy rather than a lack of time that is the greatest challenge. But just like time and money, your energy levels can be managed too. With just a little forethought and a commitment to take action the results can be astounding and can take you a long way along the path of greater wellness.
One of the keys to becoming more energy conscious is to start noticing how you are spending your energy. For example, you may start to become more aware of who, or what leaves you feeling drained or depleted, what times of day you naturally feel the most energized or lethargic, or how the company of different people affects you. For some people, even the weather makes a difference. Of course, it’s equally important to pay attention to what energises you too. Think about this for a moment, what times of day, or activities, or environments tend to uplift and replenish you if you are feeling a bit low?
ACTIVITY: YOUR ENERGY WHEEL
It can often help to ‘draw out’ these impressions by creating a simple picture that can be interpreted at a glance. The Wheel of Wellness exercise at the beginning of this book is a good example and you can use exactly the same technique to draw yourself an energy wheel too.
In this exercise the outer edge of your wheel or pie chart represents a strong and vibrant flow of energy, with a maximum score of ten, with the centre carrying a score of zero, reflecting feelings of complete exhaustion or depletion.
Now in the same way as you have done before divide this ‘wheel’ into six or eight segments to reflect your energy levels in various aspects of your life. For example, your primary relationships, your job, or quality of sleep. Give an appropriate label to each of these segments and then give yourself a few minutes of quiet reflection to assess the quality of your energy in each area.
Give each spoke of your wheel a number which you mark on your circle somewhere between 1 and 10 and then join up each segment to create a new outline. Is the outline of your energy wheel bumpy or smooth? Does it reflect good quality energy and a high level of vitality in some areas of your life but not others?
What does this picture of your energy tell you about the way you spend and replenish your energy that you didn’t really appreciate before?
This is precious information because as you become more energy conscious, so you can also begin to develop strategies to increase your vitality in times of challenge or stress. Or deliberately factor some activities into your day that you know will boost your energy. Perhaps a brisk walk, listening to some lively music, having a good laugh, or taking a power nap. Knowing what works best for you is important, but far more important is that you actually use this information for your own benefit each and every day.
We are all energised by different things, so start noticing where your life gives you energy, where you are running in neutral, or heading towards depletion. Now, with that new information, take a moment to be your own coach and ask:
“What health enhancing steps could I take to help strengthen my vitality and feel more energised?”
Your energy wheel will give you a clue to the answer here. Pick an area where your score was low and consider if there is something that you could either start doing or stop doing that would give you real and measurable improvements over time.
I’m not talking about temporary energy boosters such as a strong cup of coffee, as these are usually only short-term interventions, often at the expense of your overall energy store. Making a withdrawal on your energy account by using stimulants can mean that the long-term result can be even greater fatigue, especially if you don’t also take steps to allow yourself to recover and replenish your energy.
Think about this, if there was just one thing that you could do that would make a real difference to your vibrancy and quality of energy on a daily basis, what would it be?
Here are just a few examples for you to consider:
- Break out of your routines occasionally and schedule some ‘me’ time, to do something different and fun.
- Tidy up your personal space. The less clutter you have to wade through, the more energy you will have to devote to other things.
- Eat small regular meals, to help you maintain a constant supply of energy throughout the day.
- Get an energy boost by trying something new and adding different experiences to your day, or give your senses a treat by indulging in some new aromas, tastes or vibrant colours.
- Breathe deeply. Stop occasionally to take five extra full deep breaths, to help increase your alertness.
- Get a good night’s sleep, so that your body has its best chance to repair, restore and rejuvenate.
- Last but not least, ask yourself if you would be really willing to make that change and do what it takes to enjoy even greater vibrancy and vitality?
If your energy levels are already good, or if you don’t feel sufficiently motivated to change at this point, just be grateful for any insights you may have received from this simple exercise and move on.
If on the other hand, you realise that you could improve your daily energy flow, then as soon as you have finished reading this page, go and get a pen and paper and write down your commitment to take action.
The quality of your daily energy is an important factor in your overall wellbeing. So if you would like a little bit more vibrancy and sparkle in your life consider setting aside a few minutes each day to review your personal energy account. You won’t regret it.
WATCH OUT FOR ENERGY VAMPIRES!
As well as including more things that sustain a healthy energy level in your day, you may also need to take steps to watch out for those people or things that drain your energy too. People who do this to you are often labelled as energy vampires and they come in all shapes and sizes but here are a few tips to help you recognise them.
- The drama queen
These people always make a big deal out of nothing and can leave you feeling tired and listless.
- The intruder
Anyone who ignores your personal boundaries and privacy probably doesn’t care very much about you.
- The blamer
These people are seldom willing to take responsibility for themselves. So watch out, they will be looking for someone to blame.
- The complainer
They constantly seem to be complaining about their partners, jobs, illnesses and just about anything else they can get you to listen to.
- The critic
These people seldom have anything good to say, either about you or anything else.
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you
into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.”
MARTHA GRAHAM, AMERICAN DANCE TEACHER AND CHOREOGRAPHER 1894-1991