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The other day when I was walking in the forest, I came upon a tree leaning at a 45-degree angle and was surprisingly still very much alive. I spent some time leaning against the trunk of the tree wondering how the tree managed to be flourishing, let alone still standing, despite its precarious position. The answer, which seems obvious now, suddenly jumped into my mind. The tree’s roots served to keep the tree well-anchored and to draw nourishment up from the ground to sustain its life.
That moment of epiphany was immediately followed by the realization I had not been taking the necessary time I needed to stay well-grounded and well-nourished. Although I was getting enough sleep and eating healthy foods, it felt like I was not getting fully recharged. The drain on my mental and emotional energy seemed to exceed the amount I had been replenishing myself, to the point where it felt like I was running on fumes some days. And when I consider our society’s value on speed and productivity coupled with the drain of the pandemic, I doubt this situation is unique to me.
Humans have a profound capacity to go beyond their normal limits, though only for so long. If our output of our different energies exceeds our input we run into a deficit situation, which, if it continues for too long, can lead to burnout. The problem is sometimes we do not even recognize we are depleted until we are ready to collapse or have already collapsed. Or sometimes we can manage the regular daily tasks, but do not have the necessary reserves to endure the inevitable storms in life, which could cause us to topple over. Perhaps it is time to do a check-in on our own current level of functioning and an inventory on the things in our life serving to recharge us.
Now that I have realized I was running a deficit, I need to either cut back on my energy outputs or increase my energy inputs. Since my life does not include excess things I can leave by the wayside, I need to identify the things in my life I find rejuvenating. Several things come immediately to mind, which I could divide into two broad categories: sun and fun. I have discovered the healing impact of spending time outside in nature and the more I am outside the better I feel. I also know enjoying fun times with family and friends rejuvenates me, and now that pandemic restrictions have lifted, I have had more opportunity to connect with people. In addition to the rejuvenating activities, I have discovered other activities, which I will spend time doing, but have minimal rejuvenating qualities, causing me to conclude I need to set those aside to focus on more regenerative activities.
What is the level of your own emotional tank? What are the things in your life that recharge you? How can you do more of them to stay well-nourished and well-grounded?
Chip Bender, Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying)
Interfaith Community Counselling Centre
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