Have you ever felt completely drained and exhausted? I am talking about a level of exhaustion that goes beyond simply physically tired but includes being emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually drained as well. Many of us have felt this way in our lives, some of us may be feeling this right now. There are a lot of ways that this level of tiredness can occur whether it is from medical issues, lack of good self-care, being burned out from work or caring for others, or being in draining relationships. There are also many ways that we can stop being drained, recharge, and stay charged.
Imagine that we each have a cup or battery that can let us know how full of energy we are. Think of any type of cup you want or picture the icon that most phones have. We are going to use this as a metaphor to indicate how much energy we have or how drained we are on any given day. Of course, we cannot see the icon but the better we get to know ourselves the better we can tell what our battery charge is. Sometimes we can guess what other people’s charges might be too if we know them well.
Most of us, unfortunately, seems to run at a low charge most of the time. Sometimes our battery gets so low that it is hard to recharge it and it takes a lot more than sleep, water, and food in order to feel like we can get through the day and even then we do not feel that we are running at full capacity. There are so many things that can drain our battery and when we are not filling ourselves back up regularly we get closer and closer to being completely empty, needing more and more to be able to function even a little bit, or maybe even feeling like we cannot function at all.
All of us expend energy during the day and need to replenish this energy through eating, sleeping, drinking water, relaxing, and enjoying ourselves. However, for some of us, work and responsibilities get in the way of meeting our basic needs. Other times the work we do is so draining that we seem to need much more to refill. We all, as humans, need to take time to meet our basic needs. When we don’t feel that we have time to do that and are feeling that we have to do more, faster, for longer than we often sacrifice care for ourselves in order to meet the demand. This can take a toll on us physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Basic needs are the things that you need to survive. Some needs may change depending on the person. In general, for most humans, basic needs mean safety, sleep, nutrition, hydration, exercise, relaxation, and recreation. There are different levels to meeting these needs. For example, eating food will keep you from starving but eating healthy food that has all of the vitamins, minerals, protein, etc that your body needs will keep you at optimal health and help your battery stay more fully charged for longer. Once these basic needs are being met on a regular basis then you can also work on including additional self-care to the amount your being requires to feel fully recharged and to stay charged.
There are many different things that can contribute to draining your battery. For instance, being in stress and crisis mode (fight or flight) especially for long periods of time can be incredibly draining to our system because even if we don’t realize it, our body remains tense and in “go” mode and this expends a lot of energy. Another way we become drained is through stress, especially regular or chronic stress, which can come in many forms and it can become so familiar and common in our lives that we begin to feel that it is normal and relaxation can start to feel strange.
Another way we drain our batteries is when we give too much to others and are not setting good boundaries. Being drained from others can be in the form of giving too much time, emotion, or resources to other people. When we talk about burnout or caregiver fatigue these would be examples of when our battery is drained from helping others. Setting firm boundaries and being able to say “no” can help with this type of battery drainage as well as making sure to practice good self-care and take time for yourself.
There are many other situations that can lead to a person’s battery being drained, possibly an infinite number of possibilities, however, I will list a few more. Physical illness especially when it is chronic can also be very draining. If you have ever experienced a medical crisis, prolonged pain, or a chronic illness you know how tiring it can be, but it does not just drain you physically it can also be emotionally and mentally draining as well. Mental health and emotional issues can also lead to a drained battery. Dealing with high stress, anxiety, or depression on a daily basis can be very draining and sometimes make it difficult to focus on basic needs and self-care. Another example is when we practice negative coping. This is a tricky one because often we feel that the negative coping is helping us recharge when really it is draining us. Examples of this are drug use, smoking, or pretty much doing anything in excess: drinking, eating, gambling, shopping, and even exercise can be harmful if it is overdone.
There are many side effects and consequences of having a drained battery especially when we do not take steps to recharge on a regular basis. Think about what happens to your phone or device if you are not regularly recharging the battery back up to full. It may run a lot slower, take longer to charge, not run as effectively. People have their own set of side effects that occur on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level.
Physical problems can manifest in many different forms depending on how we are overtaxing ourselves. It may be damage to the physical body such as damage to muscles, joints, and nerves. Additional physical problems could be lowered immune system and more colds, digestive issues, weight problems, and different types of pain. It can also mean fatigue and tiredness, sleeping more, or having trouble sleeping.
Chronic battery drainage can affect our emotions in a variety of ways as well. Your emotions may go haywire causing irritability, being overwhelmed, increased emotional reactivity, tearfulness, difficulty handling situations. You may find that your fuse is shorter, that it takes less to upset you and longer to calm down. You may find that you get upset by things that ordinarily would not bother you.
Mentally there may be negative effects too. You may find your thoughts racing or experience a sort of brain fog where you cannot remember or recall information. It may be difficult for you to process information or sort out your thoughts in a coherent manner. Learning new things may be more difficult along with recalling what you have recently learned or recalling recent events. This may also disrupt sleep or distract you from other things.
The effects on you spiritually may be finding little pleasure in life, not feeling fulfilled, or not feeling like you have a purpose. As with physical, emotional, and mental effects, everyone will be affected a little differently. However, in general, it may cause a lack of joy, losing your spark, or not feeling that your life has much meaning.
Of course, none of us want to feel the effects of a drained battery! Especially if it becomes chronic and it is never really getting recharged. The consequences of that do not sound pleasant or enjoyable, to say the least. There must be some way to get our batteries charged back up, keep them charged, or better yet, prevent them from becoming drained in the first place. The answer begins with regularly meeting your basic needs, but it also includes adding in additional self-care when needed. I have a guided relaxation created specifically for recharging and staying charged called, Refilling Your Cup.
Safety and security are an essential part of meeting your basic needs and feeling fully charged. Living in a state of fear and insecurity where you are constantly stressed or in survival mode is a major drain to your system and makes it difficult to address your other basic needs or self-care. If you are not safe and secure in your life then this is a good place to start making changes, if possible, and ask for help if needed to get to a state of safety and security.
Sleep, nutrition, hydration, and exercise are also essential to be at your optimal level of health and energy. Many of us have difficulty with sleep whether it is problems getting to sleep, staying asleep, not feeling rested from sleep, or not having enough time to sleep. If your sleep cycle is disrupted there are many things that can be done to try to improve it including prioritizing sleep as much as you can manage. Nutrition is also a major area that is an issue for many people. Many of us eat food but do not necessarily have adequate nutrition. This is an area to check with a doctor about, maybe get some blood work done to see if there are any nutritional deficiencies in your system. Hydration is also really important for energy level because a lot of us drink things that actually dehydrate us instead of hydrate. Then, of course, exercise is important to have enough energy. This does not have to be aerobic or weightlifting necessarily, any type of movement is a good place to start.
I did not spend too much time on the above topics because there is so much information out there about them. There is also a lot of information about relaxation and recreation, however, they are not always included in discussions about basic needs. I think they are an important part of well-rounded self-care and need to be included as basic needs. We need more types of rest than sleep, I call this ‘active rest’. It is important for us to rest our minds and bodies in more ways and more often than the 7-8 hours of sleep we hopefully get at night. This can be done by sitting quietly, meditating, prayer, deep breathing, and other forms of resting the mind and body. Recreation is also something that is essential for humans to be at their best and could be considered anything that is fun and enjoyable to you whether it is on your own or with a group, go play and have fun!
Additional self-care whenever possible will help to recharge you and maintain a high level of charge. This means engaging in activities that you know help to fill you up. Find things that you are passionate about, that bring you peace, that help you to feel balanced, centered, connected, and creative. The best-case scenario would be to do as much self-care as the activities you do that are draining or, better yet, do more self-care than you are doing activities that drain you of energy. This will ensure that your battery stays fully charged. I encourage you to try to strive for this daily rather than trying to catch up at the end of the week or a few times a year. However, starting off slow, taking small steps towards change is a good idea. Too much, too soon can feel overwhelming or daunting and may create more of a drain rather than recharging or, worse, may lead to throwing up your hands and not continuing with the changes at all.
If you are unsure of where to begin, try my guided relaxation for recharging called, Refilling Your Cup. It will give you some great ideas of how to begin and help you to feel better, more fully charged, faster!