The following is adapted from Your Real Life.
If you are looking to become more resilient in the face of adversity, becoming aware of your energy management is crucial to that process. Energy gives you the most control to respond to adversity (with intention, mindfulness, and a recollection of resilience) rather than just react (instinctively and without jurisdiction of your own lived experiences). So controlling your energy enables you to manage your time and your emotions more effectively as you work to rise above the adversities you face.
Authors and performance and engagement experts Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz have determined there are four domains of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Think of energetic domains like an electric battery. You have to be charged up in these main aspects of your well-being to operate at your best.
But like electric batteries, your energy can’t run 24/7 without any time for recharging. We’re not built to “keep going and going” like the Energizer Bunny (who ironically is the mascot for a product that does eventually die).
Let’s see what it takes to keep ourselves energetically balanced.
#1 Physical Energy
Physical energy is self-explanatory; it’s energy in your body. The power that you use to move, eat, and breathe all draw from this domain. On a biological level, physical energy is connected to the hormones in your brain (cortisol or adrenaline, for example) that activate physiological responses—such as fight/flight/freeze, hunger, or exhaustion—in your body. Taking these responses as signals and cues is fundamental to your physical well-being.
Physical energy entails the “essential” stuff: sleep, hydration, exercise, and nutrition. It’s blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and menstruation; it’s all those things you talk about with your doctor.
It’s here in our physical energy that humor emerges from our lips in laughter or when we spit out water in hysteria. Physical energy is what wires us as humans—literally during sexual intercourse—and keeps us continuing to evolve as a species. The physical energy among us keeps us connected and it’s why we love eating together, hanging out together, connecting and sharing life’s moments together.
#2 Emotional Energy
Emotional energy is the accessing of your feelings and experiences. Those positive emotions that feel empowering and the negative ones that feel disengaging draw from this domain. The biological aspect of this energetic domain deals with mood-affecting hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.
You build your “emotional muscles” of self-confidence, self-control, social skills, and empathy through flexing and tearing your emotional energy. This usually occurs by going through challenging emotional experiences. These can include difficult changes such as divorce or the death of a loved one; daily experiences such as a bus being late; or more subtle, long-term experiences like growing irritation and resentment at the workplace. All of these experiences are small “tears” that we can use to build our “muscles” for emotional capacity.
Even positive emotional experiences help build capacity. Our emotional energy encompasses the fundamentals of the human condition: relationships with others and our own experiences with joy, sorrow, pain, triumph. The old American television show Wide World of Sports had a catchphrase—“the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”—that provides both a melodramatic and humorous way to remember emotional energy.
#3 Mental Energy
Mental energy is the stimulation of your brain. Learning, making plans, thinking through visualizations, mental preparation, and focusing your attention all draw from this domain—as does your creativity.
Mental energy is our focus and ability to sustain concentration and thinking over time. We bounce between rational thought and intuitive thought and often contain several points of view about many topics. The mental energy domain powers many important functions in your daily life. This can get overwhelming some days, especially when the calendar is full of work, family, and social appointments.
#4 Spiritual Energy
Spiritual energy relates to your calling. Any work you do toward defining your goals, inner beliefs, and values draws from this domain. Spiritual energy comes from understanding who you are, your authentic self. It’s the wind in your sail as you chase your north star, the direction you take in living your life with purpose. It is within this domain that we hold purpose and generally empower ourselves to make meaning of our lives. For religious people, this is also the space where faith in a higher power, deity, or the universe is anchored. Purpose and spiritual energy are often connected.
All Energy Is Interconnected
The nature of the four energetic domains is deeply connected. They tend to deplete and replenish in tandem because your physical state heavily influences your mental and emotional state (and vice versa), which all contribute to the state of your spiritual energy.
The interconnectedness of these energies affects your well-being and, notably, how you develop authentic resilience. Without the right balance and the “charge up” of those batteries, it’s nearly impossible to do anything. I have said in my well-being work with clients and employees that “if you don’t fill up the well-being tank, you will never make it to the bank.” It’s true. Without the interplay of these energies working inside you in the right balance, it is extremely challenging to have high-quality output for the important (and maybe not-so-important) things you do in your life.
Maintaining and regulating your energetic domains is vital to building authentic resilience and overcoming adversity because they are the power source of everything you do. It’s where you can find the drive to take control back from the stressors in your life. If you want to do more in your life, a key factor is to continue to build that capacity in your well-being batteries.
Think of it like increasing the size of your tank.
More capacity in the well-being tank is what builds resilience, giving you more energy to learn and grow.
For more advice on how to better balance your energy, you can find Your Real Life on Amazon.