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We all have a multitude of things to do in a day. Some of these activities nourish or nurture us — they help to lift our mood, increase our energy, calm us and lower our stress levels. Others deplete us, lowering our mood, decreasing the energy we have and leaving us feeling more stressed.
Not all activities are created equal. Just like some activities drain our phone battery faster than others, some ‘‘life activities’’ will do the same. Equally some might recharge us more quickly than others.
In a perfect life, the nourishing or nurturing (N) activities would at least balance out the depleting (D) ones and preferably outweigh them on a daily basis. I’ve yet to experience the perfect life!
It’s likely you may never have thought of your daily activities in this way, but you may be able to identify a feeling that you have when you are doing some. Perhaps you’ve noticed a feeling of lightness or energy when you’re in the flow, enjoying your favourite pastime. Maybe you’ve realised some of the things you ‘‘have to do’’ are hard to start and afterwards you’re left feeling frustrated or that they are a waste of time.
The first thing to do to redress any possible imbalance is to figure out what nourishes you and what depletes you. The aim, of course, is to find a healthier balance.
Start by making two lists. One for work days and one for your days off.
Write down everything you can think of, including getting up, getting dressed, showering, eating breakfast, feeding the dog etc.
Then look at your list, and decide which activities nourish or deplete you and indicate with an N or D next to each.
You might find that some activities are not really ‘‘either-or’’ - it depends on what else we have on our plates at the time and the meaning we attribute to them on any given day.
Decide how you can find a healthier balance by increasing your nourishing activities, and/or considering what depleting activities you can remove altogether or change.
You might not be able to remove any of the depleting activities completely - these are often the necessary things we have to do - but you might be able to add more nourishing activities. For example, if you’re consistently working through your lunch break, consider stopping to eat or go for a walk. If you have a hobby you’re not making time for, bring it back into your day. If you don’t have a hobby, try finding one.
If you can’t remove a depleting activity, then think about how it could be changed or how you could think about it differently - reframe it.
Could the activity be done differently? When? How? Who with?
Can you change the meaning you give to a depleting activity? e.g ‘‘Perhaps there’s another way of viewing this - my job is pretty ordinary, but it does pay me so I can renovate the house, go skiing, buy books’’ etc.
Perhaps you’re running an old mind story or pattern subconsciously. Is it the old ‘‘I’m inadequate/useless’’ story or is it depression or anxiety speaking?
Once you’ve identified your lists and tweaked your N and D activities, try to maintain the balance, even when you’re feeling good, as this will help to keep you resilient when those imperfect days show up.
If you notice the balance shifts, try to address it as soon as you become aware of it, to prevent depletion overload.
Whatever you decide to do, finish the day with a nourishing activity - you’re more likely to have a better sleep if you do.
Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.
For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.