Published January 25, 2020
I’m writing this on a Wednesday morning, in the dark, without even the noise of passing cars outside. It’s about 6:15 a.m. I’ve already done some journaling, got in a workout, and I’m drinking my celery juice like the good little rabbit I am. I am not telling you this as a way to toot my own horn. I’m telling you this because in all honesty, if I didn’t do this I would lose my mind. Like, really lose my sh*t. This time has been the only thing standing between me and my migraines, neck pain, and TMJ that I experienced much of last year. Let me explain.
Picture a thermometer- and not the online app version. The old school glass ones that you had to be careful not to break for fear of mercury poisoning. Each of us has one (metaphorically speaking) that is full of our energy and stamina for the day. Some of us have really big thermometers that have an endless supply of energy inside of them; others are dainty, pocket sized thermometers that fluctuate easily. No two thermometers are exactly alike, and that is a beautiful thing. The other cool part about these thermometer is that they are all sensitive to different things.
In life, we sometimes forget that each and every one of us has a unique thermometer. Think about if a last minute invitation comes up for a party on Friday. One week that may feel really exciting to us, and it actually increases the energy meter in our thermometer as we look forward to the night ahead. On a busy week, that might drop our energy so low that it seems more like work than play. Each of us has a different tolerance, and it changes based on what else is happening in our lives (work stress, a move, conflict…). Our thermometer is there to tell us when it’s self-care time, and exactly how much self-care we need- and no, there is no app version of that.
The world does not necessarily present opportunities to us differently depending on our energy levels. Our boss/child/family/friend does not always distinguish the demands they give us based on whether or not an employee is more introverted or extroverted, sensitive or resilient, energized or exhausted. If we get focused on what we “should” be doing or looking to fit in, we might not listen to our own thermometers. If we don’t fully value ourselves in the way we should, we might try to ‘keep up with the Jones’ and keep on truckin’ even when the mercury is about to squirt out of the top of our thermometer. We feel like we “should” be able to work more, socialize more, be more, or do more. The thing is, if we don’t read our thermometers before the temp gets too high, our body will find a stronger way to send us the signal- like getting sick, muscle pain, headaches, or a range of mental health warning signs.
Last year I did a ton of work on my thermometer. I learned that I need a healthy mix of “down time” alone, in the quiet, without demands from others on me. This is not because I’m antisocial; actually, this helps energize me so that I can be the best version of myself during my day to day. Once I started to appreciate this about myself, I was able to keep my life a bit more balanced and relieve the stress symptoms that seemed to be constant when I pushed myself to be productive or social all the time.
I’m going to develop a longer episode about this, but here are some guiding questions to get you started on understanding your thermometer a little better. Looking at your weekly or monthly calendar, ask yourself the following questions:
- What in this schedule makes me feel energized and alive? Who am I usually with (if anyone)? What setting? What types of activities am I doing when I feel this way?
- What in this schedule drains my energy and makes me feel fatigued? What activities lead to those feelings? Who am I with? What settings?
- Am I having a healthy balance of those feelings? If not, which column do I need to make more time for? Where can I schedule it?
If you’re looking for ways to find more time in your schedule for your thermometer work, check out this episode and use the free workbook pages that go along with it.
Take care of yourself, whatever that looks like for you,
Host of Watered Grass