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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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    Last Updated on November 8, 2021

    How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

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    How To Do Focused Meditation Any Time

    Do you often feel stressed for most of your day? Maybe you always feel a burden that you just can’t get rid of? Focused meditation might be your answer.

    In this article, I’ll explore what focused meditation is, how it differs in the pool of many styles of meditation, and how to implement and start this practice today. Likewise, I’ll highlight the benefits of a focused meditation practice for your overall health.

    What Is Focused Meditation?

    Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware through breath and attention to connect the mind, body, and spirit.[1] Meditation as a whole can change the structure and function of our brain. That being said, focused meditation or a guided meditation for focus is by far the best one. Meditation for focus and concentration can come in different forms. Experienced meditators use the following:

    • Mindfulness – this meditation involves us to be focusing on your breath and observing thoughts. This allows us to focus on our feelings without becoming too absorbed in them.
    • Concentrative – a meditation that gets us to focus on a particular point; be it a word, breath, object, or a point in the space you’re meditating. This is meant for us to pay attention to that point and prevent our minds from getting distracted.
    • Moving – this meditation involves gets us to focus on slow and repetitive movements similar to yoga or tai chi. The goal is again to be focusing on your breath while relaxing your body and mind with the movements.

    Focused meditation, also known as concentrative meditation, is the practice of meditating and bringing your attention to one single object. This object can be something practical and tangible, such as a mandala painting or a candle flame. It can also be something abstract, such as a phrase (also known as mantra) or a sound (such as Om).[2][3]

    Whatever you settle your attention on becomes the focal point. None of these object examples are better than others—they are simply choices depending on what you’re looking to get out of your practice. For example, practitioners will choose candle gazing to interpret the images the flame makes in the shadows while others will choose a mantra because that particular phrase or word empowers or heals them.

    How Does It Differ From Other Meditation Styles?

    All meditation styles and practices overlap and build on each other. Their basic foundation is the same: to bring the practitioner insight and introspection.

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    There is no right or wrong way to meditate, however, the various types of meditation can enhance particular qualities. Based on your personality and needs, one type of meditation may be more useful to you than the other. The 9 types of meditation are:

    • Mindfulness meditation
    • Spiritual meditation
    • Focused meditation
    • Movement meditation
    • Mantra meditation
    • Transcendental meditation
    • Progressive relaxation
    • Loving kindness meditation
    • Visualization meditation

    Focused meditation, specifically, is the practice of focusing on one single object for the duration of the practice. How this differs from other meditation styles is that it gives the practitioner something tangible to do: focus. It’s almost like giving your mind an action to perform—listen to this sound, repeat these words, watch this flame, etc. This is also one of the reasons why this particular meditation style is great for beginners!

    One of the biggest challenges in any meditation practice is that the mind gets carried away and we lose ourselves to random thoughts. This “obstacle” is actually a style of meditation in and of itself called Vipassana.[4] However, in focused meditation, we give the mind something to do so that it’s not simply left to its own devices. This type of meditation is beneficial for beginners and for practitioners who prefer some structure and guidance to their meditations.

    The Benefits of Focused Meditation

    In this style of meditation, what you’re really doing is exercising your mental muscles. Your brain is highly affected by dedicated and concentrated meditation practice.

    Scientists have performed countless studies on focused meditation and have found that active meditators have more gray matter volume in their brain and, therefore, offsetting the cognitive decline that comes with aging. So, not only does practicing focused meditation help you learn how to focus better on certain tasks, but it also improves similar functions, such as memory. [5]

    Likewise, it helps in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, which our society is currently crippled with.[6] By settling your attention on an object, you are essentially building your ability to observe your thoughts and sensations from a place of objectivity. This allows you to detach from negative self-talk that is often the breeding ground for depression and other mental illnesses.

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    From a guided meditation for focus to practicing it yourself, daily meditation for focus comes with several benefits:

    • It’ll reduce stress
    • Help you to control anxiety
    • Enhance your self-awareness
    • Improve attention span
    • Helps you to focus on the present moment
    • Increase your creativity and imagination
    • And boost your patience and tolerance for things.

    How to Practice Focused Meditation

    Here are six tips to help you practice focused meditation. Based on your availability and interest, these tips may change and evolve. That’s the point: to create a structured practice that caters to your needs.

    1. Find a Comfortable Seat

    As with any meditation practice, comfort is truly key. The physical body responds to meditation practice by alerting you to whether it is comfortable and supported or stressed out and in pain. This is best observed in practitioners who tend to slouch and lose the tall, supported spine that is essential to meditation practice.

    A simple rule in meditative sitting is to ensure that your hips are higher than your knees. Therefore, choosing to sit in a chair instead of on the floor may be a smart decision or perhaps propping yourself up on a cushion. For meditation techniques overall, it does not matter how you sit. All that matters is that you are supported and comfortable sitting for some time.

    2. Choose Your Object of Focus

    Every meditation training session is going to be different because no single day is the same for any one person. Therefore, experienced meditators know that choosing an object is more about listening to what you need at this time versus following any doctrine or “rule.”

    If you’re not sure and have a hard time deciding, make focusing on your breath and pay attention to the inhale and exhale is a good option. Then, assign each inhale and exhale a number, and once you reach 10, start over. This is one of the simpler methods of keeping your mind occupied—by giving it a task. This also trains your mind, and over time and with practice, your mind will easily focus on an object without too much effort.

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    3. Set Your Desired Time or “Go With the Flow”

    If you have a structured routine and would like to stick to your schedule, by all means, set a gentle timer for how long you’d like your meditation to be. This is also your opportunity to throw out the notion that any meditation has to be a certain length of time to be correct—it does not.

    Likewise, if you have the time, you can also listen to your body and come out of your meditation when you feel it’s right to do so. This is often a beautiful practice of listening and tuning in.

    4. Relax Your Body as You Focus on Your Meditation

    Typically, when we are focusing on something, we tend to tighten our body. Observe this next time that you’re concentrating on something: your jaw will tighten and your shoulders will squeeze up towards your ears.

    As you sink into your meditation, keep this in mind and check in with your body every once in a while. Let your shoulders sink down your back and release any tension through your jaw and face. Lastly, relax your brow and let your eyes be heavy in their sockets. Then, return to your object of meditation. Observe if your meditation changes at all by relaxing your physical body.

    5. Return to Your Breath and Object When You Get Distracted

    Notice that I didn’t say “if you get distracted.” That’s because you definitely will drift off with random thoughts or get pulled away from your object of focus. In meditation, distractions are almost guaranteed. Therefore, it’s your opportunity to practice detaching yourself from feeling guilty or inadequate to continue.

    Over time and with practice, you will find it easier to stay with your object of focus. In the meantime, however, notice when you get distracted. Pause and take a big breath in and out. Check in with your physical body and relax. Once you’re ready again, return to your object of focus. Meditation is simply one long cycle of wandering and coming back to yourself.

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    6. Journal Your Experiences

    When your meditation practice has ended, another powerful practice is to jot down any experiences that you felt. There may have been insights and “downloads” that you acquired during your session that you may want to record.

    Likewise, you could write about any challenges that you faced. These are great lessons that will continue to show up for you, and it’s nice to keep a journal of them to see how they evolve and progress over time (and they will). Lastly, you can write about what works and what doesn’t, as far as picking your objects of meditation go. This way, you can learn what you most associate with and feel comfortable with.

    While these steps are simple, it’s easier said than done. Whether you’re starting out with a guided meditation for focus, loving kindness meditation, or transcendental meditation, anticipating failure the first time you try these things is healthy. Furthermore, congratulate yourself for even making slight progress like noticing and returning to the present moment and noticing the sensations you experienced.

    Final Thoughts

    If practicing meditation causes you to feel distracted and unsupported, give focused meditation a go! With the help of an object to bring your attention to, it structures your meditation time and offers guidance and support.

    Dedicating yourself to this style of meditation will help increase your memory, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote better cognitive function. Even though any style of meditation is a powerful way of taking care of your mental health, focused meditation gives your mind a tangible task with which to grow and strengthen.

    More About Focused Meditation

    Featured photo credit: Lua Valentia via unsplash.com

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    Reference

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