Seven key energy drains and how to stop them

By John Brant | 16th September 2019
Seven key energy drains and how to stop them

If you often feel low in energy and struggle to find your mojo, it’s likely that one of the seven energy drains covered in this article is present in your life. If energy drains are sapping your vitality, it affects all areas of your life, makes you unproductive and can sometimes give rise to more serious physical and mental health issues.

In this article, we discuss seven of the key energy drains and give you some tips for how to avoid or manage them. Before exploring the seven key areas, we will first explore whether there are some hidden reasons that may be contributing to having this problem in your life.

Introduction to the seven key energy drains

It is worth keeping an open mind and considering whether some of the following potential benefits of having low energy may be unconsciously manifesting the problem in the first place. Listing such benefits might help to show there can be more benefits than you originally thought. Here are some possible benefits of having low energy (feel free to add to this list yourself):

  • You get attention and assistance from others (friends, family and loved ones)
  • You can avoid risk taking, and feel enhanced sense of safety/protection
  • It frees up time for certain behaviours or activities (e.g. watching your favourite television programme)
  • There may be financial benefits (e.g. less socialising meaning less money spent)

Knowing the difference between eustress and distress Most people use the word “stress” in a context that is negative, and stress can be a key energy drain. However, there are two types of stress: Eustress and Distress. Before we discuss energy drains further it is worth making and understanding the distinction between the two.

Eustress can be explained as positive stress, which comes from positive challenges and experiences. We need eustress in our lives to learn and to grow.

Distress is negative stress, which can be defined as a feeling of extreme worry, sadness, or pain. This is the kind of stress that can drain us of energy and people generally want to avoid.

It is important to understand that eustress and distress do typically come together. For example, a significant “positive” challenge normally requires discipline, learning and thorough planning and will often evoke frustration and sadness before it is finally met.

The stress that we do need to avoid is the distress without any eustress. This happens when you are tackling challenges that have little meaning or are uninspiring. This is a theme that will be expanded upon below.

The seven key energy drains

1. Worrying about other people’s opinion and expectation too much

If we worry about what others think too much, we can build a psychological prison around us which drains our energy. There are two possible reasons for this:

  • The expectation or opinion of someone else is something we can never live up to. Perhaps we don’t have the skills, knowledge or interest.
  • We second guess other people’s opinions and expectations, which can lead to frustration and anxiety (if there is the possibility that our second guess is wrong).

It is certainly wise to consider the opinions of others, and to agree clear expectations – however, the bottom line is that nobody else can do the job of being you. You will not be able to live a life that you want to live and one full of energy if you are constantly putting other people first.

If you think you may worry about other’s opinions or expectations too much, then letting other people down can seem like your world coming to an end. To help you understand how you may be exaggerating the impact, consider the last time you were let down by someone. Notice how you were able to brush it off and pick yourself up quickly. Have confidence that if for whatever reasons others feel let down by you, they will bounce back too – they will find another way of getting their expectations met.

2. Trying to control things you have little influence over

There is something we have called a circle of influence. Within our circle of influence would be things that are clearly within our control and people we have a strong influence over.

There are things that are clearly outside our circle of influence, which are things that we have no control direct over, such as the weather or politics.

There is also a grey area, which includes things that we have some control over but not direct control, such as members of your family and work colleagues.

In general, the most efficient approach in life is to work as much as you can within your circle of influence. This can mean working within your area of competency and with people who will listen and respond to what you say. If, however, you put most of your energy into things where you have little competency or with people with whom you have little influence you are more likely to be wasting your energy.

If you struggle with low energy, consider whether you are working sufficiently within your circle of influence. If not, ask how can I grow and develop my circle of influence? It may be possible to do this by finding like-minded people and groups or by educating yourself and gaining more skills and knowledge in a certain area.

3. Feeling trapped by fear and victimhood

Fear can either get us motivated or paralyse us like a victim. Our relationship with fear is probably the most important determinant of our quality of life.

If you feel paralysed by fear, then consider how do you deal with it. Recognise that fear can serve a positive purpose including keeping us safe, motivating us to change, keeping us focused, present in the moment, or providing a challenge to overcome.

We all feel fear – it is our response to fear which determines how much it can drain our energy. Many people over-rely on one or two strategies for dealing with fear and therefore feel trapped by it. Here are some simple ways of dealing with fear. Have a look and consider if you need to change the way you handle fear.

  • Research the subject, so your skills and understanding improve
  • Change your attitude
  • Get help or support for others
  • Find a supportive environment (e.g. a support group)
  • Practice doing something that might scare you
  • Talk it out with friends or colleagues
  • Acknowledge the fear and work within your safe boundaries
  • Blast through the fear by doing something extreme (e.g. book yourself into a stand-up comedy training!)
  • Ask for help (e.g. from a professional)

4. Blaming others

When we blame others, we are giving our power away. This is because the other person must change before we can resolve the situation. Waiting or demanding for others to change can be a significant energy waster.

The best way to deal with blame is to become aware that the reason you are blaming is because you are trying to cope with a difficult emotion which is triggered by the other person or situation. If you can acknowledge that the difficult emotion is what you are trying to avoid, you can take ownership of it.

If you can take ownership of your emotions, you can then see that it is part of yourself that you are rejecting when you are blaming someone else.

The next step is acceptance. When you can truly say that the emotion is yours, you can accept it. Realising that accepting difficult emotions is really accepting all parts of yourself, the difficult emotion can then start to dissolve. We cover this process in more depth at our Finding the Authentic You life makeover workshop at the retreat, part of La Crisalida life makeover retreats.

5. Being over-weight or having a diet high in meat content

If you are over-weight, then it takes more energy to do the same physical activity than someone who is normal weight. Imagine what it would be like walking around having to carry a big bag of potatoes with you all day. Having an extra half a stone of weight is exactly like this. You will find your energy levels are higher if you are able to lose the excess weight.

Around 10% of your body’s energy is used up in digesting food. However, high protein foods (particularly meat) can take up to 30% of your body’s energy to digest. Therefore, what you eat has a significant effect on your energy levels. If you are looking to maximise your energy levels, then consider a plant-based diet. You could also try out juicing. Juicing removes a significant amount of energy from the body’s digestion process at the same time as flooding your body full of lovely micronutrients.

Try one of our detox and weight loss retreats to help you lose weight, and introduce you to juicing or a sustainable plant-based diet.

6. Perfectionism

If you like to have everything perfect and under control in your life, then you are likely to be exhausted. The reason is that life is always coming up with new ways to test you. Some would say that life will throw you problems to help break your addiction to perfectionism.

It is normal to have most of your life under control and for you to be satisfied with it. However, if you are looking to have 100% of your life perfect and exactly as you want it, you are going to have to expend energy to get it there. The closer you try and get to 100% perfect the more energy it will take.

There is something called the Pareto Principle that suggests that 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions. If you want to be efficient in the way you are using your energy and you understand this principle it makes sense to focus on “perfectionism” in the 20% that is making the biggest difference, rather than focussing time and energy in the other areas.

A practical example of this might be how you manage your expenses at home. For example, you could review every minute detail and every penny you spend – however you are likely to get the quickest results by focussing on the highest 20% of your bills.

7. Lack of self-expression

Tiredness and lack of energy can also be associated with blocked, denied or unexpressed emotions. Therefore, finding a way to express yourself either physically or verbally can help to re-energise. Therefore, some sports are fantastic for keeping up our energy levels, particularly those with physical challenge and where aggression can be let out!

Check out my article on finding your voice for practical information and exercises to help you find your voice when you need it.

Release those energy drains!

I do hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and perhaps can see how some of the points highlighted might be draining you of energy. I also suggest you also check out our latest article on natural ways to boost your energy.

Although most people focus on the physical, you can now see that your attitude and mindset are also important in helping you to keep good energy levels.

At La Crisalida we take a holistic approach to find solutions that integrate mind, body and spirit. If you know anyone interested in experiencing how to maximise energy levels and find their inspiration, we recommend they visit La Crisalida Retreats.

Headshot of John Brant - Retreat Founder at La Crisalida Retreats
John Brant

John is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. He leads our life makeover programme as well as overseeing the retreats.

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