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Published on April 23, 2021

How to Manage Your Emotional Energy For Mental Well-Being

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How to Manage Your Emotional Energy For Mental Well-Being

Every human, regardless of our age, location, financial status, ethnicity, all have the same amount of time in a day: 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86400 seconds. That sounds pretty straightforward. But why is it that some people seem to be able to do more, go on vacations, be fully engaged in all aspects of their lives, and still have more physical, mental, and emotional energy? How is it that they seem to have more time?

Meanwhile, most of us are just trying to get by. Our day doesn’t start without a cup of coffee (or two) just to wake up and conjure up the energy to get through the morning. In our busyness, we choose quick and fast foods so that we can get onto our next meeting, activity, or task.

The pressures and demands at work cause us to lose patience. We are irritable, reactionary, rushed, thus, making careless mistakes or forgetting simple things. By the evening, we feel so drained. We just want to lay on the couch, disengage, relax with a glass of wine (or two, or three). We feel like there just isn’t enough time in a day, overwhelmed and drained.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? You might think, “well, if only I had more time…”

According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in the book The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal, it’s not actually about managing your time, it’s about managing your emotional energy.

According to them, “the number of hours in a day is fixed, but the quantity and quality of energy available to us are not. It is our most precious resource. The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become.”

What Is Emotional Energy?

As simple as it may sound, emotional energy is the energy we source from our emotions. Simply put, our energy comes from our emotions and different emotions vibrate at different frequencies. I know this might sound a bit “woo woo”, but hear me out.

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Take a moment to think back at a time when you felt elated and full of energy—like you were on top of the world. Maybe it was a promotion or raise at work, the first kiss with your partner, traveling to a new country, or just laughing till your stomach hurt with your best friend.

The emotions of joy, love, passion, enthusiasm that you felt at that time are considered high-frequency vibrations. In those moments, you felt like you had an unlimited source of energy—you could go all night! Because your emotions were high-frequency vibrations, your energy was abundant. You were operating on high-frequency vibes!

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the lower frequency vibrations are fear, grief, depression, insecurity. When you think back at a time in your life when you broke up with someone you really loved, let go from your job, were depressed or sad, your emotional energy was low, wasn’t it?

    What Drains Your Emotional Energy?

    Here are the most common things that drain your emotional energy.

    • Excessive worrying
    • Negativity
    • Guilt
    • Indecision
    • Overcommitting/overwhelm
    • Lack of healthy boundaries
    • Negative rumination

    How Can You Increase Your Emotional Energy?

    Our energy comes from our emotions. In other words, the emotions we feel become the energy we put out into the world and we tend to attract the energy we put out. “Like attracts like”, “birds of a feather flock together”—it is simply the law of attraction.

    If you take an honest look at your life and the people you surround yourself with, would you say they are mostly negative or positive influences? Do they complain or are they uplifting? The external world is your mirror. It just reflects what is going on you on the inside.

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    This is neither “good” nor “bad”. There is no judgment here—it simply “is”. It is important to note that this is not a time for self-judgment. It is simply an assessment of what is.

    Take an honest evaluation of your circumstances, finances, friendships, or whatever area you want to focus on. Is it everything you wished for and imagined it to be? If not, it’s important to examine some of the beliefs, thoughts, and emotions relating to those areas. The good news is, it is up to you.

    If our energy comes from our emotions, this means that you have the power to change your emotions and thus, change your energy. The Latin derivative for the word emotion, “emovere,” literally means “move out, agitate”—to set energy into motion.[1]

    So, let’s get that energy into motion! Here are five ideas on how to manage your emotional energy for mental well-being.

    1. Do Things That You Love and Enjoy

    This sounds simple enough. Think back—when was the last time you intentionally set aside time to do things you love and enjoy? If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and drained, I bet it’s probably been a while. Try scheduling in a few hours this weekend and do something that you truly love and brings you joy. You deserve it.

    2. Surround Yourself With Positive People Who Lift You Up

    Next, surround yourself with positive people and remove toxic friendships and relationships. If the toxic relationship is a family member, try limiting the amount of time you spend with them and keep the interactions positive. This may be difficult at first, but if you are operating on high-frequency vibrations (see chart above), then your energy will raise the vibrations of that interaction.

    3. Learn How to Say “No” Without Feeling Guilty

    It’s okay to say no. Saying “no” to others is saying “yes” to yourself. And you are the most important person in the world. If there is no you, there is no one to take care of those you love. Put your oxygen mask on first before assisting others. Self-care is not selfish.

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    4. Stop “Should-ing” Yourself

    I believe words are very powerful, and how we phrase and use words has the power to create our experiences. Eliminate the word “shouldn’t” from your vocabulary. The word carries so much weight, burden, regret, and judgment.

    Remove the word “shouldn’t” and see how it changes these sentences:

    • “I shouldn’t have watched so much TV.” ➡ “I watched so much TV.”
    • “I shouldn’t have wasted time on this.” ➡ “I wasted time on this.”
    • “That shouldn’t have happened.” ➡ “That happened.”

    Removing “shouldn’t” makes the action or event completely neutral. It moves it from something “negative” to just a matter of fact, neither good nor bad—just what is. From that neutral place, it allows you to move to a sense of responsibility. If it’s something you shouldn’t have done, ask yourself, “what did I learn?”

    When you keep “should-ing” yourself, events, or actions, it keeps you stuck in the past. We can’t change the past (surprise!) and keeps you in victim mentality or self-blame.

    A more important question you can ask yourself is “what could I do instead?” Learn, reflect, and move forward. “What will I do in the future?”

    Replace “should” with “choose to”. Watch how these words shift how you experience these phrases.

    • “I should go for a run and exercise.” ➡ “I choose to go for a run and exercise.”
    • “I should stop this negative self-talk.” ➡ “I choose to stop this negative self-talk.”
    • “I should be more patient.” ➡ “I choose to be more patient.”

    Replacing “should” with “choose to”—all of a sudden, you are in control. You are empowered. You get to choose to do something. You get a choice, not just an “I should” and then do nothing about it. “I choose to” allows you to take ownership and responsibility.

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    5. Meditation and Mindfulness

    Mindfulness

    is the practice of bringing attention to the emotion that comes up, not identifying it as part of self but simply noticing it and getting curious. When there is curiosity, there is no space for judgment. When there is no judgment, acceptance is much easier to follow.

    Many research studies show that mindfulness meditation is effective at reducing stress and can improve physical and mental health by changing the brain and biology in positive ways. Researchers reviewed more than 200 studies of mindfulness among healthy people and found that mindfulness-based therapy was especially effective for reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.[2]

    Conclusion

    “The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become.”—Jim Loehr

    The energy that you put out is your responsibility. When you realize this, it is empowering. It means that you have the ability to control your energy and mental well-being—not the environment, not other people—you! You get to be in the driver’s seat of your life.

    So, are you ready to drive?

    More Tips on How to Manage Your Emotional Energy

    Featured photo credit: J’Waye Covington via unsplash.com

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    Reference

    [1] Online Etymology Dictionary: emotion
    [2] American Psychological Association: Mindfulness meditation: A research-proven way to reduce stress

    More by this author

    Yurika Vu

    Mindfulness Coach- book a complementary breakthrough session at www.yurikavu.com

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    Published on August 23, 2021

    Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

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    Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

    If you suffer from depression or suddenly experience bouts of sadness that seem to come out of nowhere, you probably wonder why this is happening. The truth is that there are several possibilities, and you aren’t alone. According to the World Health Organization, in January of 2020, more than 264 million people were diagnosed with depression and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.[1] In this article, I will answer the question: why am I depressed if my life is fine?” I will discuss what depression is and what the possible causes of depression are. Additionally, I will offer some solutions to consider as you navigate the depression you are experiencing.

    The question of why you are depressed if your life is fine is one that I can personally identify with, as I can remember a time when I went through an intense depression even though, in many ways, my life couldn’t have been much better. I was financially secure, had a good family, lived in a beautiful place, had a pretty adventurous and exciting life, but none of that could have prevented a serious and prolonged battle with depression.

    Given that you are here reading this article now, you will hopefully be able to identify the problem early and get the support you need to fend off any significant depressive episodes, as this can make a huge difference in your battle with depression.

    Furthermore, you don’t have to live with depression! Despite the debilitating effects of depression, with the right treatment and support, it is also one of the more “curable” mental health disorders and you can overcome it.

    What Is Depression?

    Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, irritability, and in the worst cases, despair and suicidality.

    Depression from a clinical perspective is classified into a few distinctive categories, two of the more common categories are; major depression and dysthymia. According to the DSM 5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—which governs the diagnosis of psychiatric and mental health disorders—major depression is classified as experiencing five or more symptoms in the same two-week period and must include a loss in pleasure as well as a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.[2]

    The criteria are:

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    • Loss of pleasure or joy
    • Intense feelings of sadness and depressed mood most of the day, almost every day
    • Difficulty sleeping or disturbed sleep
    • Change in appetite (increased or decreased appetite) and a 5% change in body weight
    • Difficulty focusing, poor concentration
    • Psychomotor agitation or slowing down
    • Excessive fatigue
    • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
    • Persistent thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

    Dysthymia is an ongoing or persistent depressed mood for a period of two years where you feel sadness more days than not. It will include at least two of the following symptoms when depressed:

    • Poor appetite or overeating
    • Insomnia or hypersomnia (having more sleep than usual)
    • Low energy or fatigue
    • Low self-esteem
    • Poor concentration
    • Feeling of hopelessness

    The above symptoms of dysthymia can coincide with the symptoms of major depression.

    Causes of Depression

    Depression happens for several reasons that I categorize into three: biology, environment, and situation. Depression also tends to occur in more sensitive people, tend to overthink, and get stuck in their thoughts, which—more times than not—are negative.

    Biological causes of depression are related to how your body produces neurotransmitters that impact your moods, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Some people might have a biological predisposition for depression and never experience any significant symptoms but when confronted with a challenging life situation, such as a loss or disappointment, it can send them into a tailspin of despondency and intense feelings of low and sad mood.

    Depression caused by one’s environment is more about those you might have grown up with, your family, and your home environment, which could also be connected to heredity. Regardless of your biological predisposition, you learn how to handle challenges in life by observing those around you.

    Adults, in particular, are role models for children and will likely deal with life in similar ways as to what they observed. For example, a child who grows up witnessing partner abuse between their parents is at increased risk of either being a victim or perpetrator of violence in an intimate relationship as an adult.[3]

    Situational depression, as I mentioned above, can be seen as more of a cause-and-effect relationship. When you are confronted with a particular life challenge or change, such as job loss, geographic relocation, or family and financial stress, these situations can cause you to fall into a temporary or prolonged depression.

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    In some cases, depression can be a combination of all of the above.

    Examples of Causes of Depression

    Below are some examples of situations that might lead you to experience a prolonged period of depression.

    Grief

    The loss of a loved one, especially when sudden and traumatic, can bring about intense feelings of loss and sadness, which can lead to clinical depression. This includes the death of pets.

    Medical Issue or Diagnosis

    Being diagnosed with a medical issue, especially if chronic and progressive, is much like any other loss you might experience. It represents the loss of a life you had. Very often, there will need to be changes made in one’s life that will not allow for a lifestyle previously enjoyed.

    A Feeling of Failure or Perceived Shortcomings

    As I mentioned, people who experience depression tend to be sensitive and self-critical. You might be struggling with not getting a job promotion or failing to progress in the way you imagined for yourself, but this doesn’t mean that you are not progressing in some other way.

    Sudden Life Change

    Changes—even good changes and welcomed changes—are hard. Sometimes, these changes can have an impact on your role and status in society like marriage or parenthood, which are both wonderful changes yet fraught with many challenges and new social roles.

    Feeling Trapped or With Limited Options

    Having options is both a blessing and a curse. We know that the more options we have, the less happy we are and the more anxious we might tend to feel, wanting and needing to make the right decision. However, on the flip side, the idea that you don’t have any options can also lead to feeling trapped and feeling that your life circumstances are already written in stone.

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    Burnout

    Job stress, being overworked and underpaid, or the lack of fulfillment in your profession can lead to depression, which might also coincide with the feeling of being trapped and feeling as though you don’t have many options in your life and career.

    What Can You Do If You Experience Depression?

    It may sometimes feel as though, out of nowhere, that you are hit with depression, and this is true for many people who have a biologically based depression. However, I would argue that whenever there is something like depression or anxiety—which are defense mechanisms—there is something in your life that is not 100% congruent with who you are and where your life is at or going.

    This essentially means that it’s time to take a step back and reassess a few things in life. It doesn’t mean that you will be able to wright the ship entirely. However, you might be able to make some small changes that will help you feel more in control of your life and the direction that you are going in.

    1. Consider Therapy

    Therapy will help you take stock and think about what is happening in your life and where you might be able to make some changes. Needless to say, you will also have the support you need to embark on making those changes. It could also be a chance to identify what it is in your life that is causing the depression. A therapist can also help you connect to other supports that might help you as you work through this period in your life.

    2. Group Support Network

    Processing hurt and pain through the group experience is a powerful method of connecting with yourself and others who might be experiencing similar challenges. Part of the value of group experience is knowing that you are not alone and that you have support not just from professionals but also from other people just like you.

    3. Self Assessment

    Self-assessment involves assessing where you are in your life in relation to your life goals, your relationships, and the direction that you are headed. Maybe it is time to make a pivot and change course, which could be a very scary thing. Bringing this kind of information to therapy will be very valuable and will assist you in the therapeutic process.

    4. Take Some Time Off

    Taking some time off will be and can be helpful in many ways. If you are experiencing burnout, this will give you more time for self-care and help you give yourself a break. Moreover, taking a time off gives you more time to do some of the things I described above in therapy, group work, and self-assessment.

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    5. Are You Bored?

    Sometimes, when we lack stimulation or work in a job for which we are overqualified, we might find ourselves feeling underutilized and as if we are not meeting our potential. This would, hopefully, come out in a self-assessment and could indicate the need to make a change in your work life.

    Depression and Suicide

    Depression is a serious mental health disorder. Thirty to seventy percent of deaths by suicide are attributed to major depression or bipolar disorder.[4] If you or someone you love is experiencing depression and expresses thoughts or statements about death and suicide, consult with your medical professional or mental health counselor. People who receive treatment for depression have an 80 to 90% rate of success from therapy and/or medication.

    Suffice to say, if you get the treatment you need for depression, your chances of recovering skyrocket. Again, as I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to live with depression. Get the right treatment,[5] and you can have a whole new lease on life.

    Final Thoughts

    Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by feelings of sadness for a long period of time. Many people throughout their lives will experience some depression in varying degrees. If you notice that what you are experiencing resembles any of what I have described above, please know that you can make changes and you can live a life free of depression. Getting help, support, and treatment is essential to addressing the depression or changes in your life that might need to be considered.

    More Tips on Coping With Depression

    Featured photo credit: Paola Chaaya via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The World Health Organization: Depression
    [2] NCBI: The DSM-5: Classification and Criteria Changes
    [3] OASH: Office on women’s Health: Effects of domestic violence on children
    [4] Mental Health America: Suicide
    [5] Upside Down Flan: The Best Treatment for Depression

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