Energy Leaks: Fixing Your Flat Tires

31 Jul

Energy Leaks: Fixing Your Flat Tires

Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

“The bird that learns to fly must also learn to land. She flies far but never forgets her nesting place. She travels far, yet understands her boundaries. One who flits about seeking peace forgets to look in her own tree.” – Haven Trevino

As I was filling up one of my car tires with air over the weekend, I got to thinking about the concept of energy leaks. You see, there’s a nail in one of my tires, which is causing a slow air leak, and I have to fill it up every so often—about once or twice a week—to avoid a complete flat, damaging the wheel, etc. Of course, I could just hire a mechanic to patch up the tire, and I wouldn’t have to worry about it…but I’m “too busy” for that.

Putting this into perspective, I realized that this is a major energy leak, which I’m addressing reactively, that is having a fairly significant negative impact and much further reaching implications than I give it credit.

Sure, it only costs a dollar to fill the tire up with air, but after three or four weeks (it’s actually been a few months), that adds up. What if I don’t have proper change? What if the air machine at the gas station where I stopped is out of service? How is this affecting fuel efficiency? Clearly, there are time and financial resources being drained.

What about the additional anxiety it causes? While I don’t think about it when I’m working, I’m concerned about a potential blowout when I’m driving on the highway. What about the incessantly annoying blinking light telling me that my air pressure is low? Duh.

Obviously, a simple leaky tire isn’t so simple: It’s an energy leak that’s rearing its ugly head on my resources. While I shared some examples of how this problem was specifically draining my energy (literally), the tire leaking air itself is a figurative metaphor for the energy leaks—both big and small—that we incur daily.

All of this got me thinking about how energy leaks may be impacting my sustainability, effectiveness, and efficiency. In addition, it is a good reminder how important it is to take a more proactive approach.

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Although somewhat abstract, energy is ubiquitous, yet our energy capacity is finite. That is, we only have a limited amount of energy, although we have many different “buckets” in which we invest it. Thought of differently, proper energy provision affects and is impacted by our environment, relationships, finances, health and fitness, mental and emotional health, and much more.

In this way, stressful thoughts and feelings, incomplete tasks and to-dos, negative relationships, etc., can all be energy leaks that have a negative impact on the achievement of our goals and visions.

In his book Stress Management Through Ancient Wisdom And Modern Science, Umesh Sharma lists the following categories as potential “energy leaks“:

  • Unfinished business (e.g., conflicts with family, friends, co-workers; financial debts; overdue assignments; incomplete projects at home or work; incomplete tasks/to-dos)
  • Physical environment (e.g., is your home/work environment congruent with your beliefs, intentions, etc.; is there clutter everywhere you look; is your form of transportation clean and in good condition)
  • Support systems (e.g., do you give and receive energy from your spouse, friends, and family in a healthy way; do you know where to get help and how to ask for it when needed)
  • Physical health (e.g., do you eat in a way that optimizes your health, fitness, and vitality; do you get routine physical exams; do you exercise regularly; do you get enough sleep; do you rely on drugs/substances to “give” you energy)
  • Mental/emotional/spiritual health (e.g., do you owe an apology; do you practice mindfulness; do you meditate; do you challenge yourself mentally; are you interested and engaged in your line of work)

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We are all prone to energy leaks, but the most important factor may be identifying them and addressing them proactively. It may be challenging to plug some of these energy drains and some—like that “thank you” note you haven’t written—may seem superficial. However, these are all tied back to you and are zapping your energy.

What are some of your energy leaks? I encourage you to identify yours, and once you do, you can start explore ways you can close them. At the same time, you may think about your “energy gains,” or those things, activities, people, etc., which bring you great energy. Ultimately, “fixing your flat tires” will leave you feeling more energized and healthy, and you’ll be ready to focus on the big things that matter most.

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Stress management can be tricky, but things like yoga, meditation, mindful breathing, physical activity, managing finances, and healthy relationships can all contribute to healthy stress levels. While herbalists have known this for centuries, more and more research suggests that certain herbs (i.e., adaptogens) may be helpful in combating cortisol and improving stress levels.

As a matter of fact, scientists recently found that daily supplementation with a combination of Magnolia bark extract and Phellodendron bark extract (i.e., Relora®) reduces cortisol exposure and perceived daily stress, while improving a variety of mood state parameters, including lower fatigue and higher vigor, which suggests “an effective natural approach to modulating the detrimental health effects of chronic stress in moderately stressed adults.”

Thus, while you’re prioritizing and learning how to best manage your stress, you may be able to at least put a “patch” on the leaks and lessen the damage.

[Author’s Note: I wrote a portion of this as I was waiting for my tire to be repaired.]

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References:

Talbott SM et al. Effect of Magnolia officinalis and Phellodendron amurense (Relora®) on cortisol and psychological mood state in moderately stressed subjects. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2013 Aug 7;10(1):37.

Thirthalli J et al. Cortisol and antidepressant effects of yoga. Indian J Psychiatry. Jul 2013; 55(Suppl 3): S405–S408.

Turakitwanakan W et al. Effects of mindfulness meditation on serum cortisol of medical students. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Jan;96 Suppl 1:S90-5.

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One Response to “Energy Leaks: Fixing Your Flat Tires”

  1. earthlingsring January 14, 2015 at 8:23 pm #

    Wonderful insights! Thank you!

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