Invisible Energy Zappers and Summer Colds

Summer colds are annoying.

I’ve been home the last three weeks with a cold virus I can’t seem to kick. It’s frustrating to sit on my tushy for days on end, and to have lots of “at-home” time with very little to show for it.

As a result, I’ve been spending a lot of time asking myself the question, “How is it that I came to have a cold that is now on its 25th day?”

Well, besides the obvious – that I owe my husband a thank you for sharing his cooties – I guess it’s a combination of a few things. The one that I want to share with you is one all parents have in common: We overdo it. We push and push till our body says enough.

And I’m not just talking about pushing our physical limits, running around, not eating or sleeping properly, not exercising.

I’m also talking about the mental load – both the obvious and not-so-obvious invisible energy zappers. For example:

  • Spending time with people who drain us. (Cousin Jane’s visits are always full of criticisms about your parenting.)
  • Worrying about our kids. (It doesn’t matter their age – there’s always something to worry about.)
  • Ruminating over situations. (Maybe I should have done this instead, or maybe…)
  • The pressure to meet societal norms and expectations. (Is it really necessary to [fill in the blank]?)
  • Incomplete projects and tasks weighing on us and taking up space in our brain. (Ughhhhh – I still haven’t [fill in the blank].)
  • Guilt over distractions. (Did I really just waste an hour scrolling through Instagram?)
  • Unreasonable expectations for ourselves and others. (Why can’t junior just stay in his chair for 5 minutes?)
  • Comparing ourselves to others. (I wish my house was as clean as my neighbor’s.)
  • Lack of boundaries. (Hi, neighbor that just stopped by unannounced, of course you can come in.)
  • Saying “yes” to projects and activities out of obligation. (Why the heck did I to volunteer to [fill in the blank]? I really need to sleep!)

Invisible energy zappers can really affect our physical health (hello weakened immune system). But they also influence our mood, our patience, and our ability to self-regulate, which can in turn deeply affect our children’s behavior and response to us.

So, what to do? We’re not going to completely eliminate invisible energy zappers, but here’s some ideas for managing them:

  • Be more aware of thought patterns that may be contributing to stress.
  • Listen to your gut. If some idea, person, or situation causes you to tense up and cues negative thoughts to start racing, consider if it’s worth your time (or health) to further engage.
  • Pick your activities and your people wisely. It is OK to say “no.”
  • Remember that thoughts are just thoughts. Just because we think something, it doesn’t mean those thoughts are necessarily truth.
  • Be kind to yourself. If you find yourself playing Candy Crush (I wouldn’t personally know anything about this) or ended the day without doing the dreaded laundry (really, no idea what this is about), simply acknowledge that it happened (or didn’t happen) then move on. What’s done is done. Give yourself some grace and don’t waste any more time beating yourself up.

What one invisible energy zapper in your life do you want to pay more attention to? Comment below and let me know.

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