“I feel like I’m an emotional sponge.”
My friend just finished telling me about how her daily lunch break at work has turned into her being forced to listen to hour-long rants from one of her co-workers who is going through a bitter divorce.
Yup. I can relate.
To being an emotional sponge, that is.
If I talk to someone close and listen to their problems, struggles, or issues, it’s almost a guarantee that I will have trouble falling asleep that day. Or that at least, my energy levels will suddenly drop.
Certain people or places just have that effect on me. Over the last couple of years, after going through quite a few changes during the journey of my personal growth, I’ve discovered that I very easily soak up other people’s emotions. Then I let them take over and I worry, I stress, and then I worry some more.
It was around that time that I realized that sometimes, you have no choice but to protect your energy in order to stay sane.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ENERGY
FIND YOUR HAPPY SPACE
A little secret to my sanity? I turn my phone off, all.the.time. I just have to. There are days when I just feel so emotionally drained. So empty. It doesn’t always have to do with something bad or tragic going on. It can be a difficult client I had to deal with earlier in the day, or me just feeling mentally exhausted after a social event where I had to interact with a ton of people.
If I need to re-center myself, I know exactly where to go.
My little office room is my happy space. I have my candles, my essential oils, my favorite books, my vision board, my gratitude journal, my desk, and my favorite chair. There’s my dog, who usually follows me and lies down by my feet. The minute I enter that room, my energy shifts.
One of my friends is a mom and also runs her own business. Her happy space is actually… her pantry. Every time she needs to stop for a minute, she will leave her kids with her partner, grab a glass of wine and her favorite dark chocolate and just sit in her pantry for a few minutes. Other times, she’d tell me that sitting on her living room floor, surrounded by toys and her three kids is her happy space, whenever she feels that her positive energy levels are being affected by work.
Find that happy space for yourself- and it can be literally anything; your bathroom, your car, bedroom, kitchen. The best way to avoid stress and feeling emotionally drained and to protect your energy is to have a plan for when those negative feelings begin to take over.
TAKE A LONG BATH
The thing is, it’s not about the actual “act” of TAKING a bath or a long shower. It’s about the fact that for many of us, those of us who are constantly busy, working, taking care of our families, interacting with others, the time we spend in the shower or a bath, is the only time we truly get to disconnect throughout the day. It’s the only time when we have a few minutes all to ourselves. Not everyone can afford to take an entire day off and go hiking (hiking alone isn’t always a great idea, btw) so sometimes, a longer shower or a bath just has to do.
Something that I like to do at the end of the day, is to actually visualize my stress and anxiety and that heaviness while I’m in the shower and imagine them literally wash away. The warm water also helps to ease and relax those tense muscles often caused by stress. As your body and muscles relax, you can visualize that stress leaving your body and your energy being restored.
We absorb energy from other people, places, different environments. By becoming more aware of the things and settings that change your energy, you will be able to protect it better.
Pay attention to your mood, specifically places, people or situations which trigger a negative, even if a very subtle, energy shift. Who and what changes your energy? Do certain interactions leave you feeling emotionally exhausted? Do you find yourself saying “yes” to things you don’t feel like doing, just because you want to be polite, or because you feel obligated to do them?
Here’s another thing that I myself have been learning to do over the years: the need to learn to detach myself from other people’s negative emotions. This is especially important to remember when dealing with people who tend to treat you as an emotional dumping ground. I’m not talking about chatting with a friend who’s going through something difficult and needs to vent. I’m talking about people who tend to talk about the same negative things over and over and over again, while also refusing to accept any feedback or try to work on improving the same things they constantly complain about.
A part of protecting your energy is remembering that you can’t force anyone to change. You can offer advice, shift the focus of the conversation in a more positive direction, but you cannot force anyone to accept it- this is something the other person has to be open to.
What you can do, is protect your own energy by setting healthy boundaries. Don’t be afraid to set those limits. Maybe you feel your energy levels drop when someone simply talks a lot without letting you get a word in. You don’t have to sit there and listen until your energy finally drops to zero, just because you want to be polite. If spending two hours at a crowded event is all you can take before it stops being enjoyable, then that’s your limit.
When people, places, and events give out positive energy, it’s almost contagious. The same thing goes for people, places, and events that give out negative energy, unfortunately. The latter can leave you feeling dull and damaged.
Here’s the thing to remember: most of the people who do drain that energy out of you, aren’t aware of what they’re doing. This is important to remember because you can use that as an opportunity to once again, choose love, instead of entertaining fear or frustration. You are in charge of protecting energy, do not allow anything (or anyone) to mess with it.
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