Thursday, July 21, 2016

How to charge "light" and "dark" batteries

Okay, it's been way too long since I've posted. You'd think since it was summer that the "relax" factor would be cranked up, but as usual life gets busy, hectic, and I'm pulled in a dozen different directions.

I was sitting and trying to figure out how to juggle everything meanwhile realizing that I stopped taking care of myself the way I used to. Without a race to train for, I started putting more of my time and energy into my clinical practice but found that there was more on my "to-do" list than I had thought (a blog post being one of them - and one of the things that got sacrificed).

A friend and co-worker stepped in to offer support and I got a little Reiki treatment from her. Afterwards she told me, "You're mind is like a hurricane." And it was. I was all over the place - I couldn't keep my mind still. Everyone around me needed me for something and I needed myself. I needed to recharge my batteries. Both sets were empty and I wasn't getting the chance I needed to recharge.

What am I talking about? Charging two sets of batteries? It's how I like to think about my energy. In traditional Chinese Medicine you could equate a similarity to Yin and Yang.

My "Light" Batteries:
I consider Light batteries to be Yang in nature. Yang is movement and energy. We use these on a daily basis. Some people like coffee to help with their Light energy: caffeine gives you a boost, coffee improves mood to some extent.

Light batteries are easily charged just by listening to your body throughout the day and making sure your basic needs are met - both biological and social! Need a snack? Maybe some water? Want to go out and sit in the warm sun?

Ways to charge your Light Batteries:

  • Literally spend time in daylight! Look out the window, go for a walk, get out in nature! Sit outside and get a little sun exposure. 
  • Make sure you're well hydrated. When was the last time you had something to drink like water or tea?
  • When was the last time you ate? What did you eat? Do you need a snack? Make it a good clean healthy one!
  • When was the last time you were social? Do you need to go chat with a co-worker for a few minutes and take your eyes off your computer? Catch up with a friend; Even a quick phone call or text message to put you into touch with friends. 
  • Do something that you find fun; Any activity that brings you joy. 

My "Dark" Batteries:
Dark Batteries can be harder to charge. I consider dark batteries to be more Yin in nature. They are substance/matter - your reserve energy. Like a back-up generator. When we try to take care of everyone else around us and stop meeting our own basic needs, those Light batteries run out quick and we start pulling energy from our dark batteries. If these become depleted, now we really start to feel it. Coffee alone doesn't do it. Our sleep might start to suffer, anxiety might start creeping around; we become exhausted.

How to charge your Dark Batteries - Stage 1:

  • Get enough sleep (8 hours minimum). I would argue that we could all use at least one night of 9-10 hours sleep per week. Sleep is huge here. If you can't get it in during the week, make up for it on the weekend. 
  • Spend time in a dimly lit room, especially before bed. Dark batteries sometimes require actual dark; away from stimulation. Keeping lights dim and screens away before bed can really help with sleep. 
  • Learn to say "no". If you're being pulled in a hundred different directions or people are asking too much of you, make a list, prioritize it, and learn to say no to a few things. Other people will have to understand. This is your health we're talking about! 
  • Quiet time and reflection time. Take a day to be less social. Have time for yourself. Stay quiet and just recharge. Read something for enjoyment, take a nap, do some Yin or Restorative Yoga, whatever you feel like you need. Don't push yourself too much or do anything strenuous. 
Charging your Dark Batteries - Stage 2:
For some people, Stage 1 is enough to feel better. But for others, if dark batteries have been depleted for too long, they almost forget how to recharge and need additional support.

  • What have you eaten today in general? What about throughout the week? It can be worth doing a Diet Diary and look at your food trends over the past week. 
    • Look to eliminate refined and added sugars. Avoid processed and fast foods. Focus on a variety of vegetables to make up the most of your plate, with healthy fats and proteins with it. Grains should be a side-dish only and I would argue that most people in this state would do much better to eliminate dairy, gluten grains and corn, as these tend to be more inflammatory. 
  • Consider some nutritional support. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about adding a high-quality B-complex to your daily routine, or Magnesium malate, to assist in energy production. It might also be helpful (depending on your specific situation) to get a few weekly B12 injections. 
  • Get additional support. Make sure you have someone to talk to. Find out if you would benefit from other therapies such as acupuncture or massage. 
  • Pace yourself. Eliminate things that are toxic to you (food intolerances, negative relationships, etc), and then nurture your body. I'm a big fan of Kate Hudson's book, Pretty Happy, which describes the pillars of our well-being and how to re-gain that balance. Practice meditation, journal or create your own "Drawing Board" as described by Hudson.