A few weeks ago I noticed that a lot of my students were showing signs of being very run down. There are probably many factors at play here, but it gave me the idea of having them do a bit of an energy audit. When you feel like your energy is low, it makes sense to have a look at how you are spending it – can you economize? Are you leaving our self care?
I have done this very exercise with myself a couple of times and found it a helpful check in. I have said this many times, but getting things out of our heads and onto paper makes it easier to visualize and therefore manage those things.
First, I had the kids list everything they felt they were doing in the last couple of weeks, that took energy. I had to remind them to include easily forgotten energy sucks like bathing, picking out clothes for the next day etc. I even reminded them that if they were feeling stressed, or were struggling to sleep, that was an energy expenditure. Below is a sample list.
- Boring self care; showers, making lunches and organizing clothes and materials for the day/week, walking to school in bad weather
- School work and homework
- Extracurricular practices
- Saturday School
- Stress; peer, family, worrying about the future
- Trying to sleep
Next, I had them draw a big circle and sort their energy expenditures into sections, creating a pie graph.
A few kids realized that they couldn’t even fit all their sections in. A few were feeling pretty good and had energy left over (sadly a small minority). I asked them to make a second pie chart redistributing their energy spending the way they would like to – even leaving a section open.
Finally, we talked about ways to try and redistribute that energy. This involved looking at strategies we have been trying to reinforce all year:
- considering their sleep Hygiene
- adding in mindfulness practices to help them live more in the present and less in the past and future.
- being mindful of their self talk
- pre-booking time to spend on enjoyable self care and energizing activities (before the energy is all spent)
- remembering that everything is temporary