As the earth begins a new trip around the sun, we’re forced to reflect on the past year and set resolutions for the new one. It’s strange and arbitrary, but here we are. Among the many things I learned last year, one of the most important was how to better spend and protect my energy.
What do I mean by that? We can feel drained in many ways: physically, emotionally, mentally, etc.
Introverts get their energy from being alone, while extroverts get their energy from other people. Many of us fall somewhere on that spectrum; I consider myself an extroverted introvert.
I went through an unusually long extroverted phase last year where I was constantly around people. I traveled with friends and family, dated and partied a lot, and was hardly ever at home—unfortunately leaving little time for personal projects like blogging—but I felt happy and energized, so I went with it.
Then as fall approached, something shifted. I began to crave alone time again and realized that I needed more time for introspection, downtime, and solo travel.
I read a quote that really resonated with me: “Your energy is your currency. Spend it wisely.”
I got off of dating apps. I read more books. I took a solo trip to Porto.
These small changes ended up being huge. When I started being more intentional about how I spent my time and therefore my energy, I felt so relieved.
We all go through phases in life, some that are easier to ride out than others. By taking the time to check in with yourself throughout, you start to recognize what’s giving you energy and what’s draining you. Pay attention to the things that are truly making you happy right now, and to which things you can let go of.
Call me a sensitive Pisces, but self care is all the rage right now.
Here are five ways you can protect your energy and spend it more wisely.
Cut back on social media
Some might consider sending friends funny memes on Instagram a form of self care. But do you ever close Twitter feeling a little worse after scrolling? Or open Facebook out of habit only to realize you really don’t want to be on it?
Although I wish my phone hadn’t been stolen the first night I got back to Madrid, I surprisingly felt a tinge of relief not having a phone to obsessively check all day.
Luckily there are tons of less dramatic ways to cut back on social media than getting your phone stolen or deleting your account. Turn off your push notifications, delete an app from your phone for a day, or take a break from viewing Instagram stories for a week. See how you feel after.
Take a break from the news
It’s no secret that my fellow Americans have felt especially drained these past couple of years. Turning off push notifications for news alerts was one of the best decisions I ever made.
In this day and age, the news will always find you. You don’t have to be the first to know about a story, nor do you have to listen to every excruciating detail or read every tweet. Of course it’s good to be informed, but be mindful of the content you’re consuming as it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Tune in to a daily news wrap up to get the most important facts, put down your phone before bed, or shut down the guy at the bar who is asking you about He Who Must Not Be Named.
Learn how to say “no”
Be protective of your energy and needs. If you want to take a trip by yourself, tell your friends that you need a little solo getaway. If you need a break from someone on social media, unfollow or mute them. If that guy you went on one date with keeps texting you, tell him that you don’t have the time or energy to commit to dating right now. The right people will understand.
It takes time, but learning how to say “no” to the things that don’t serve you now will save you in the long run.
Make a list
What if you don’t know what activities you should cut back on?
Write down a list of things that make you happy, big or small. It could be something as simple as making a healthy breakfast in the morning. Focus on actions that you can repeat.
Keep a gratitude journal. Whether it’s daily or weekly, keep track of what you’re grateful for in life and see how you can spend your time around those things.
As one of my favorite quotes goes, “Pay attention to the things you pay attention to.” What activities do you lose track of time doing? Which ones make you feel energized after? Those are the things you should make more time for.
It’s easy to get caught up in our daily routines or the work grind. Every so often, take a few minutes to slow down and assess where you’re at mentally. Whatever that means for you, whether it’s mindful meditation, journaling, exercising, or listening to sad music, check in with how you feel.
If hustling professionally or being a socialite is fulfilling you right now, then more power to you! If you feel like you need a break, try scheduling more time each week for an activity you enjoy.
Either way, ride the wave and keep killing the game.
Cheers to 2019.