If you’re considering skipping tonight’s post because you’re afraid it’s going to be all about tree hugging and turning your heater down, please don’t. It’s not about those things at all (but they are important if you believe in climate change, which I do). I’m talking about YOUR energy and how we live our lives to manage that energy. While time is something that is finite and that you can’t simply “recharge” to get more, energy is instead a precious resource that varies for many reasons. Energy is what allows us to keep going, keep doing, keep being at our highest levels, sometimes in spite of those time limitations.
Before you read on, I would like for you to stop and to consider what your energy level is right now while you are reading this. Has it been a long, chaotic day, and you’re feeling like a 2/10 who needs a nap or an early bedtime? Or are you coming off of an activity that completely charges your batteries- be it personal or professional- and you are a 10+ out of 10? And how many of you who were exhausted and drained acknowledged that to yourself while thinking, “And I have a billion things to do!”?
Here is a truth: We are all busy.
Here is another truth: We each have 24 hours in a day. The difference in what happens lies in the choices we make about their use.
I’ve become much more conscious over the years of the things that help me recharge, and while I’m not always able to do them perfectly (that whole “doing the right thing for the patient” does come first), I certainly do them to the best of my abilities. I know that walks with Olivia make a huge difference for me, and our morning walk is an absolute- even if it only ends up being 10 minutes. I know that running is important to me and helps give me additional reserves to draw from. Yoga, same. I’ve also learned to commit one day a week to as little work as I can reasonably do- if on-service, patient care only, and if off-service, no work stuff at all- and I do take at least a few days a year off the grid where I may or may not be reachable. Since those times also typically involve being in nature somewhere, they are tremendously recharging for me. And the key question I find myself asking more and more is how something aligns with my priorities, if it’s a high-value activity. That answer can certainly vary depending upon context, but it also helps me to decide if I’m going to the opera at the end of a long day or coming home for a home-cooked dinner and some time with animals. While I love opera and value cultural activities, I will tell you that at the end of yesterday’s 12 hours of Burn Unit madness the best choice in that moment was home for dinner and a dog walk. It’s a value choice, I recognize, but both yesterday and today it served me well.
In the Buddhist tradition, the last of the Six Words of Advice may well be the most important- “Relax, right now, and rest.” Sometimes our greatest work is to not do any work at all by simply being in the present moment.