Mental energy is vital for your overall wellbeing.
| By Camilo Sáenz-Moncaleano, PhD, Sports Psychology | February 27, 2020 |
If we are going to talk about the mind as a muscle or a series of muscles, we must talk about energy. We usually think of the muscles as body parts that transfer energy, that allow us to move and be physically active. This is indeed the case; the Oxford Dictionary defines energy as “the strength and vitality required for sustained physical activity”. But the definition is not only restricted to physical activity, it also encapsulates mental activity. As we have talked about in previous posts, mind and body are one: they feed each other, provide feedback and complete each other to allow our body and mind to do all the wonderful things we can.
We are usually very aware of our levels of physical energy. After a day of hard work, a tough workout or simply one of those moments where an extra burst of physical effort was required – like running to catch the bus, going up several flights of stairs, or carrying something heavy – we all recognize the feeling: our muscles feel sore and sometimes completely depleted. We are gasping for air, feeling lightheaded and all we want to do is take a break and recover. This relaxation response automatically kicks in since our body is always looking for equilibrium, or homeostasis as it is called in physiological lingo. However, sometimes our body needs some extra help to restore the energy levels, and unfortunately some people suffer from chronically low levels of energy, or it simply takes them a very long time to fully recharge.
Exactly the same happens with our mental energy; not very frequently – or at least I hope that is the case for you – we have to deal with experiences that leave us completely empty mentally. We feel general tiredness, an unwillingness to think or do anything other than relax so that we can regain our mental strength. It is important to point out that oftentimes it is harder for us to cope with mental rather than physical exhaustion. We are usually very attentive and work on managing our physical energy, but rarely on our mental energy.
In such case, we have to make sure that the muscles of our body and mind have adequate levels of energy to do everything we want to do and successfully overcome the challenges life has in store for us. This may sound more difficult than it really is, and it is a shame that we are not taught about techniques and exercises that help us increase our mental energy levels. There are several clinically proven techniques that have shown the benefit of replenishing our mental energy levels, either because we are or feel mentally drained after facing a challenging situation, or because we are proactively training our mind muscles to have more energy and hence endure more.
These techniques and trainings – which, just like most things in life, require practice – teach us how to recover easier. We can understand it as improving our mental fitness so that next time we have to face a challenging situation, it does not take a big toll on us. Furthermore, since we are constantly facing positive and negative mental energies that affect the way we live and cope with challenges, these trainings will help us regulate our energy levels properly.
This knowledge and training should be second nature, but unfortunately that is not the case yet. In the same way that we have learned how to take better care of our body, we must start working on taking care of our mind as well, and this undoubtedly starts by learning how to be more conscious and manage our mental energy levels.
Welcome to Upotential, the place where you can learn, train and work on your mental energy.
– Published on February 27, 2020