How To Maintain Your Energy

I almost constantly feel nervous.

It's not as horrible as it sounds, though. Instead it's more like a low-level current that runs through me almost constantly. Because I have this hum of energy that vibrates through me and drives most everything I do, I probably appear more extroverted than I am.

Take speaking in crowds, for instance. I hate it, as lots of people do, but that low-level nervous energy of mine is so great that I'll force myself to make a self depreciating joke or speak first in a meeting, just to get my inner self out there. It's partly because of my fear that if I don't say something quickly or do something to make everyone feel comfortable, I may not say anything at all. 

That energy – the one that keeps my brain constantly ticking, thinking, analyzing, creating – it drives me, pushes me to work harder, meet people, tackle that next project – and it, obviously, makes me who I am. But it can be tiring. Other introverts, those of us with sensitive and active minds that require greater periods of rest, will understand.

All of this is fine and good on an everyday level, but when it comes to special days – holidays and vacations – it can be difficult. Spend a day touring a city with a group friends, attend a series of highly-social activities, or even change your diet for a few weeks, and those energy levels can start to slip. 

Luckily, as this creature of habit and homebody with a true love for travel has learned, there are ways to maintain that energy in a healthy and sane way when you're off your routine. This allows you to keep up that big energy throughout long work days, and travel successfully with friends and family alike.

Here's how it's done:

1. When possible, surround yourself with people who "get" you

There's a saying that traveling with someone for a few days will teach you more about that person than knowing them for several years. I'd say that's true, and while finding yourself in the (often professional) situation of traveling through a new city or country with strangers can be a very positive thing, when at all possible try to travel with people who know and "get" you. People who understand that after five hours of tourist-ing, you may need to be alone in your room with a book for an hour-ish. 

If the people with you on a vacation or holiday "get" your energy levels, they'll know and understand that you just need some time alone, thanks. No misunderstandings, no hurt feelings.

 

2. Take an abbreviated time out

Let's say you're visiting friends or family, or are just in the middle of a very long, taxing work day and you don't quite have the ability to go sit alone and let your brain breathe. Instead, find activities and rituals that will help you "recharge" your batteries even on a micro-level. For example, put on headphones and listen to music that chills you out, or maybe walk to a nearby coffee shop and grab a tea. Do something that will take you outside of your element, even for a moment, and you'll feel better.

 

3. Go to bed early

Don't feel the need to "take advantage" of your holiday or vacation by staying up late if that doesn't feel good for you. If you're socially or physically drained, let yourself slink off to bed to read, write, or think. Stretch, light a candle, and just hang. It'll make all the difference in the world and give you the energy needed to get you through that next day of socializing or travel.

 

4. Stick to a routine 

Perhaps most importantly, hold on to your routine for dear life – on holidays, vacations, and even on the weekends. Eat the same foods when you can, and when you travel bring your favorite sweats or comfy socks – anything that makes you feel yourself and grounded on the outside will help to do the same to your mind on the inside. I promise.

 

Any thoughts on maintaining energy when you're out of your element? It's not easy for any of us, and especially not for introverts. Tips and shared experiences are always welcome!


Stepping Outside Of Your Comfort Zone

Note: This piece was originally published on DesignGood, but I'm republishing an edited version here because I thought some of you might enjoy reading it. To see the piece in its entirety, go here

 

“Who dares, wins” – British Special Air Service

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live” – Dorothy Thompson

These cliché quotes are familiar to all of us. The idea that fear holds us back, hinders us, prevents us from going after our goals and the things that we want to accomplish is something we all know well.

The question is, why are we still so hesitant to leave our comfort zones and do what scares us? We know the results tend to outweigh the fears, and we know that our fears are often unfounded. So, what’s holding us back?

To start, let’s talk about the comfort zone and the power that it holds over all of us. Comfort zones are physical and psychological, and they exist in our personal and professional lives. Regardless of your age or professional status, comfort zones are where we feel most confident, and, often, least challenged. We have a way of clinging to them, even when they no longer serve us.

When met with a new situation that brings us fear, we stay put in our comfort zones, hesitant to move forward. Like many of you, I’m very familiar with this feeling.

I’d call myself a classic introvert in a lot of ways – I read Susan Cain’s “Quiet” and rejoiced in knowing that I wasn’t alone in my natural tendencies. Despite this, there’s something inside of me that fights my desire to stay home and hide under the covers. It’s a gut feeling that pushes me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis. It’s drive, or maybe it’s my extroverted side. Whatever it is, it’s kept me going, changing and growing. I’ve moved cities multiple times, lived outside of my home country and pursued difficult careers – even though all of these things felt really, really scary.

I think there’s a lesson to learn from this. Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way a finished, fearless product. But there is something I can teach based on my experiences, and that’s that the rewards that come from stepping out of the boundaries of your comfort zone cannot be measured. They extend far and wide, and are much more than the literal rewards that can come with forcing yourself to act fearless. 

The secret is this: Once you step out of your comfort zone once, it becomes addictive. The feelings of initial fear will pass, and you’ll likely accomplish something new and positive. If nothing more, you’ll experience a feeling of accomplishment for doing something you initially feared.

 

Let’s break it down into a few easy ideas. The next time you’re hesitant, consider the following four steps to breaking out of your comfort zone:

1. Identify your fear: What is it that’s making you fearful?

2. Consider potential gains vs. potential loss: With many situations, we quite literally have nothing to fear except fear itself. Still, there are exceptions. If you honestly do not see yourself gaining from the experience on an internal or external level, then I’m officially giving you the go-ahead to pass up the experience. But if you think facing the fear will aid your growth in any way, move on to the next step.

3. Just do it: Unless what you’re planning to do is dangerous or harmful in some way (and hopefully it’s not), then you should stop thinking and just act. Honestly. The more you analyze the fear, the bigger it will become and the greater control it will have over you. Stop thinking and start doing.

4. Review your experience: Think about how the action of stepping outside your comfort zone made you feel. Do you feel a sense of accomplishment? Did anything bad actually happen? Consider writing down your feelings to reference the next time you’re feeling afraid or hesitant.

 

Without pushing yourself to do the uncomfortable, growth never happens. While this is something people talk about a lot, acting on it and making yourself do the things you fear most is still somewhat of a rarity.


Stay Home Club by Olivia Mew

I've long considered myself an introvert. I enjoy being alone and draw energy internally rather than drawing it from other people. Despite the fact that I'm a social person who enjoys the company of others, I need time alone to recharge my batteries after externally-driven activities like parties, shopping, or anything "group". Otherwise, I feel overstimulated and go quiet – it's like my brain gets overloaded and needs space to work everything out. And despite living abroad and loving to travel, I'm a total homebody.

Olivia Mew totally gets that. She seems to know just what's on my mind, from animals to never leaving the house. Not to mention the fact that she recognizes my seemingly illogical fears. Example: this pennant made me legitimately laugh out loud. 

Olivia recently introduced Stay Home Club – a line of stuff (totes, tees, vintage-style pennants, and the like) that celebrate that heaven that is staying home. Even better than that is the fact that animals are included throughout the collection. If it wasn't totally weird for me to wear/outfit my home in everything Stay Home Club, I definitely would.

Olivia / fellow semi-introverts and just generally awkward folk: never change.