Energy Zappers vs. Energy Boosters
What do you do when you wake up with a bad case of the blues? It’s perfectly normal to feel down from time to time, and it’s a natural response to take action to turn your mood around. But sometimes you may take steps that you think will make you feel better, but in fact make you feel worse. Below are some common “energy zappers.” The next time you are tempted to try one of these to get yourself out of a slump, why not try the alternative instead. You might be surprised!
1. Zapper: Reaching for a “treat.” Treats such as ice cream, a cold beer, or a new pair of shoes feel wonderful when you are in the right frame of mind. This is because the pleasure of a treat is short-lived. When you feel good, a treat adds to the pleasure of the moment. But when you feel down, a treat doesn’t have enough staying-power to really put you on an upward spiral. In many cases, you may end up feeling guilty or disappointed, exacerbating your negative feelings.
Booster: Reaching out to another. Happiness is often a by-product of spending quality time with another. A good conversation can work wonders for a bad mood. Instead of reaching for a treat, reach for the phone and call a friend or family member. Even if no one is available at the moment, making plans for the future can boost your outlook by giving you something to look forward to.
2. Zapper: Continuous expression of negative emotions. Emotions want to see the light of day. Repressed emotions can actually be part of the reason you’re feeling down. But there is a danger in staying with feelings that never seem to get resolved. It is healthy to express your emotions, but unhealthy to get stuck in them. Crying, screaming, slamming doors, breaking dishes can aggravate the situation when there is no sense of relief from the action.
Booster: Release and refocus negative emotions. Once you have expressed the emotion, take a moment and check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “Am I finished?” This deliberate attention to releasing the negative feeling causes you to engage the thinking part of your brain, pulling you out of any stuck emotional loop that may be occurring. If you’re not ready to release the negative feeling, hit a pillow a few more times; then stop and ask yourself if you are now ready to release. When the answer is yes, put yourself into a better frame of mind by refocusing your attention on something positive. Perhaps it’s a photograph that brings you good memories, an upcoming concert you’re going to, or the antics of your dog in the next room. The key is to vent, release and refocus.
3. Zapper: Spending the day in bed. When you feel bad, the temptation is to pull the covers over your head and hide out all day in bed. This sounds so warm and comforting. And while it might be just what the doctor ordered when you are physically down, when you are mentally down, staying in bed only reinforces a sense of powerlessness, hopelessness, isolation and lethargy.
Booster: Take action! Feelings and actions are interrelated. When you feel down, you want to take corresponding actions, such as staying in your pajamas all day. But if you want to boost your mood, then take actions that correspond with feeling good. Get dressed, make your bed, open the blinds. These actions alone will start you moving in a more positive direction. Even if the only productive things you do all day are the laundry and dishes, you’ll feel better. And after that, maybe you’ll be ready to tackle the rest of the day with a little more lightness in your step.
Have you experienced any of these energy zappers? If you try one of these energy boosters instead, let me know what happens.