Melbourne Functional Medicine
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Recently I did something that felt amazing. I sat at my kitchen table and wanted to squeal with delight – you know, that feeling when you’re so excited you can’t contain yourself? But I was alone and that felt weird so instead I just enjoyed the buzz.
In front of me lay one pair of scissors and one credit card.
I had, after two years, finally paid off my credit card debt. I was thinking about it later and realised that although I am happy to be free of the debt, what actually made me feel the best was the satisfaction of creating a strategy and executing it – every week for two years. Methodical where previously I had been haphazard, calculated where the earlier version of me preferred to look away. It was liberating, to say the least. I calculated what I could afford to pay, then went on to automate my payments and within an established amount of time I had paid it off, quite effortlessly.
When I had the conversation with the customer service rep who was helping me finalise my details, she told me I was eligible for this offer and that offer, to which I said no thank you. She sounded somewhat perplexed and when she asked me how I would ‘cope’ without a line of credit I told her that my intention is to buy only that which I can afford.
When my mum first moved out of home she bought a couch. She went to the shop and made regular payments and only when she had completely cleared the debt was she able to bring that big hunk of brown leather with green cushions home. Until it had been paid off completely, she and dad sat on the floor or kitchen chairs (or probably milk crates). It is a low stress way to purchase. When we have debt, it can sit somewhere in the background as a constant reminder that you are not entirely free. In fact, interest is calculating rapidly.
There’s something of a correlation between my credit card experience and energy, because sometimes we spend more than we have and sometimes we even owe the bank energy.
Lots of us identify with poor energy being a key marker of health. Patients tell us they’re tired, exhausted, just can’t muster the energy, are tired of being tired, wake up tired…what if your approach to energy is like a solid financial plan – you think about where you want to be in the future, you collaborate and seek advice from experts, you plan and budget, and you only spend what you have.
With a healthy energy plan there is no racking up debt that you may not have the capacity to pay back. No pleasure now for pain later. A realistic, systematic and affordable approach to energy spending.
What if you only spend the energy you have access to, and you don’t overdraw?
While everyone’s account will look different, conceptually we have a finite amount of energy and an infinite number of ways to spend it. We can exert it physically at the gym, emotionally in relationships, intellectually at work or study. We can swipe away at our energy credit when our mind works overtime (and often creates catastrophic scenarios), when we enter the ‘blame game’, when we spend time thinking about fault and blame (instead of problem solving and responsibility). When we think we must look a certain way – that our physique is a priority – can be absolutely tiresome not just physically but emotionally. You can see that there are plenty of opportunities to dig into your energy account.
Firstly, you need to acknowledge that you have an energy bank account. Know that every person’s account will be different (as are our bank accounts) from our friends, family, co-workers. Become very clear about how much energy you have to play with and then strategise accordingly.
If you haven’t yet identified WHY you have poor energy production/capacity, this is an important step. Could it be your thyroid, a parasite, poor gut health, infection, inflammation, or are you simply doing way too much (that’s you if you don’t take time away from work for r & r)? As Simon Sinek says, start with Why.
Step two is to set up regular repayments to your energy account. This is done by signalling safety, resting, embracing yin activities, actually slowing down – spending more time in the parasympathetic state (rest, repair, reproduce and digest). This is about increasing the amount of time you spend ‘building’ energy and reducing the amount of time spent ‘spending’ energy. Our favourite tools for energy building (ie decreasing your energy debt) include:
A few months into your payment scheme is a good time to re-assess, in order to make sure that what you’re doing is working.
Are you meeting your repayments?
Have you reconfigured how you spend?
Do you notice any benefits in how you feel, think or behave?
If you’re building new habits, often you won’t have a ‘pow’ moment, but more likely you’ll be able to reflect on the month or weeks just past and recognise that you moved through them differently – that you weren’t so reactive, that you were able to reprioritise, that you generally slept better, that your mood was more consistent. You may notice that you understand your body’s current potential and so you make wiser choices about how you spend your energy (remember, this is about emotional and physical energy).
Once you have a healthy line of credit, a whole world of opportunities can open up to you. But first, you must own and take responsibility for what you allow into your life. The ultimate freedom lies in understanding the feedback your body is giving you and making the best decision you can base on that.