by Mary Reitano               

“Vitality!  That’s the pursuit of life, isn’t it?” Katherine Hepburn

Springtime brings in sunlight, warmth, and more outdoor activities, which recharge our energy after hibernating for the winter. But you don’t have to wait until spring to be rejuvenated. There are things to do all year round to increase vitality. Of course, physical condition effects energy. Regular checkups screen for conditions causing low energy. Check if medications are contributing to lethargy. All physical exercise improves energy levels. But, in addition to cardio and strength exercises, add stretching to reduce stiffness. Hydration is important—just 10% dehydration tires you. Eating lean proteins and complex carbohydrates provide sustained energy. But sugary snacks and drinks give short-lived energy leading quickly to energy depletion. 

Working, parenting, and volunteering all provide pleasure and challenges. But stress occurs when we perceive that demands on us exceed our resources. Exhaustion occurs when you are constantly overwhelmed by responsibilities.  There are no easy solutions. But activities can be dropped, or work hours reduced.  Seeking help from family, friends, or community may provide relief. Weekly relaxation and regular vacations renew energy.  Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Successful people have learned to pace themselves. 

What about time spent with others?  The optimum amount depends on your temperament.  Introverts are satisfied with fewer, deeper relationships, but need time alone to renew their energy.  Noisy, crowded parties are draining.  But extroverts are energized by these events. Are most of your companions positive and supportive people? Or are they overly critical of you or focused on everything wrong with the world?  If so, limit time with energy-zappers. 

Spiritual beliefs often inspire helping others, which energizes you. Spirituality provides higher purpose, lifting you above tiresome routines. But, if you violate your values, guilt can drain you. Resolving conflicts frees up energy. Positive emotions like joy, love, and hope energize you. But emotions are like elevators–they can bring you up or down.  High levels of anger, anxiety or depression deplete energy. And negative thoughts can sap your vitality.  Are you intentional about what you listen to, think or talk about?  Tragic news stories lead to disheartening thoughts. Positive stories create hopeful, energizing thoughts. And, what you tell yourself lifts you up or drags down.

Attention, interest and energy levels are high when you operate in the “sweet spot” where you are gifted and comfortable. Do you know what your strengths and gifts are? Are you spending most of your time exercising them?  A bad fit is tiring. Energy is also depleted by excessive focus on the past or future. Yes, we need to learn from the past.  And it is wise to plan for the future. But we live in the present, and by fully experiencing each moment, we increase our energy, engagement and enjoyment of life.

“Your health is what you make of it. Everything you do or think either adds to the vitality, energy and spirit you possess or takes away from it.”  Ann Wigmore, holistic health practitioner.

Mary Reitano is a National Certified Counselor and Licensed Professional Counselor in North and South Carolina.  She practices at Restoration Counseling in Lake Lure. Mary helps people dealing with grief, anxiety, depression, stress, life transitions, and relationship issues to restore hope, peace of mind, and relationships, She can be reached at 704-858-2926 or maryalisonreitano@gmail.com.