Five Ways to Optimize Personal Energy

These days a lot of professionals can define their jobs using one metaphor: burning the candle at both ends.

After all, the world has been operating in the middle of a global pandemic for nearly two years, forcing everyone to adapt to new, unforeseen circumstances on a daily basis. Many have taken on more projects and more responsibilities while working with less support and fewer resources. As a result, people are diving into their personal energy reserves, becoming quickly depleted—so much so that, according to a recent Korn Ferry survey, 81% of American professionals feel more burned out now than at the start of the pandemic.

Given today’s challenges and disruption, the well-being of employees has become a focal point for organizations. One recent study, in fact, found that 81% of large companies offered some type of corporate wellness program in 2020—a jump from 70% in 2008. Yet these programs, experts say, often fall short in giving employees the tools they need to build and maintain their personal energy.

Energy is the fuel for life, essential to health, development, livelihoods, joy, and productivity. When companies shape the culture around positive wellbeing, they feed that energy, enabling and empowering employees, and thus, improving their bottom line.

Focus on the five wellbeing pillars to build personal energy

We’ve identified five key pillars that help employees sustain their wellbeing and optimize their performance at work: awareness, resilience, social connection, purpose, and healthy habits. By working on these five pillars and making positive and healthy lifestyle choices in those areas, your wellbeing would increase, and so would your energy. Some ways to harness personal energy:

1. Practice awareness by becoming mindful instead of habitual

Science shows that mindfulness—the active, open attention to the present—reduces biases and automatic habits. In fact, one study found that meditation, a practice of mindfulness, can help people better control their impulses and waste less energy fighting them. Meditating, even for a few minutes, a day encourages people to slow down and pay more attention, thus becoming more in tune with their thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

2. Build resilience by sitting with adversity

Challenges can trigger a whirlwind of emotions. When having negative thoughts, take the time to come up with alternative outcomes to the adverse ones that are expected. Find counter-evidence to support why this negative perception could be wrong and identify the most likely implications rather than assume only a fatalistic conclusion.

3. Deepen social connections by practicing compassion

Compassion training not only supports unconditional kindness but also cultivates a deep, heartfelt wish for the happiness and wellbeing of others. And research has found that developing compassion increases positive emotions and improves health. Fostering compassion through meditative practices can help decrease stress and anxiety, enhance connections, and increase capacity for forgiveness, among other benefits. By becoming more compassionate, people can improve the quality of their professional and personal relationships.

4. Enact your purpose to live your purpose

People are not passive recipients of their jobs—nor their lives. Employees can reshape their work and working environment to enhance their sense of purpose and ensure their strengths are being used. Employees should change the way they think about their work, the content of their work, and who they work with. When people find ways to enact their purpose, they can be intentional and live full, meaningful lives.

5. Create healthy habits by learning to detach and relax

Research shows employees who detach from work during off-hours report higher levels of life satisfaction, better sleep, and less emotional exhaustion. What’s more, employees who enjoy their leisure time as leisure time are more likely to display proactive work behaviors, such as addressing problems at work. To reduce stress over the long term, employees should make relaxation part of their routine: meditate in the morning, write in a daily journal, practice yoga, spend time on hobbies and connect with loved ones. Taking time to detach and relax will restore personal energy more quickly.

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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