How are you feeling? Ugh, don’t ask. Personally, I hate it when other people ask me this question. Paradoxically, when I find myself avoiding the answer for too long, it tends to be exactly the right time to check in with myself to see why I’m avoiding the question, and what I can do about the answer.
Today, the answer is “low-energy” and what I can do about it is “be more chill.” That sounds pretty intuitive for my naturally cool and collected friends, but what happens when “chill” is a word that no one has ever used to describe you? If you can relate, let’s courageously explore what drives some of us to be less chill than others, why it can help to chill out sometimes, and three things you can do to be more chill.
How am I feeling?
Honestly? I’m feeling pretty drained. Sometimes I avoid admitting it when I feel this way, because I’ve built a reputation of being both busy and easily excitable—high-achieving and highly responsible. If someone passes me the football, they know they can depend on me to score the touchdown. Actually…don’t ever pass me a ball. I don’t know how to play sports and therefore have no understanding of whether that football analogy made sense.
As a multipotentialite, you may be like me, in sports or in other domains of your personal and professional life. You may identify as a multipotentialite because you always seem to have a great variety of projects going on in your life. And, if you’re like me, you also have a lot of people you are accountable to. You may actually like that feeling! I do. When I’m well-rested, having plenty of things on the go and high variability in the projects and people I collaborate with makes me feel vibrant and valued.
The solution is…chill
When my last period of rest feels like a distant memory, I’ve learned that it’s time to give myself the gift of a pause. Although it’s not natural for me to do so, I stop to notice how I’m really feeling in the midst of my busy, high-energy life. This gift shows that as much as I care about everyone else and their needs, I also care about myself. I take the time to honestly answer the question How are you feeling? to prove to myself that I am willing to do what it takes to restore my zest for life. When I’m feeling low-energy for an extended period of time, I pivot. I, the Type-A queen, take some time to chill.
Do you need to chill, too?
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith explains that we live in “a culture of high-achieving, high-producing, chronically tired and chronically burned-out individuals.” Can you relate?
In this hustle culture, we’re taught that all we need is a day off to catch up on our sleep, and then magically the next morning we are supposed to feel refreshed. But we don’t. Or at least, I don’t. Dr. Dalton-Smith says that we continue to suffer “from a rest deficit because we don’t understand the true power of rest.” According to Dr. Dalton-Smith, there are seven types of rest: physical, mental, sensory, creative, emotional, social, and spiritual rest. These types of rest give us the kind of restoration necessary when our bodies and minds tell us that what we truly need goes way deeper than a day off.
I got excited (ha!) about this concept because it’s such a multipotentialite way to approach rest and restoration. I have grouped Dr. Dalton-Smith’s seven types of rest into three categories, each with a question on how you might be able to use your multipotentiality to indulge in each type.
Rest your body
What I like about the way Dr. Dalton-Smith describes physical rest is that she gives us more options than just standing still for once—it includes active and passive forms of rest. Some of us need to put everything down and close our eyes, whether it’s for a short nap or a long sleep. But sometimes we need to invest in more active forms of physical rest, like moving our bodies gently through stretches, tai chi, or yoga. I regularly put my body through high-intensity activities like running and dancing, yet I don’t devote equal time to body restoration, through getting a massage for example. When you think about your multipotentialite interests that involve physical activities, what could you do to balance physical exertion with physical restoration?
Rest your mind
Oh boy, this can be a struggle when you’re a multipotentialite. Our minds are often pulling us in multiple directions, tempting us to explore another thing even when it’s not physical, like getting lost in a really delicious thought-experiment. The solution is not to numb-out (hello, Netflix binge) or to distract with another multipotentialite project…it’s to unplug. In my last article, I wrote about how mindfulness meditation helps me rest my mind. For you, it may be something else that allows you to, “undo the damage inflicted by the over-stimulating world,” as Dr. Dalton-Smith puts it. How will you give your mind the chance to just chill out for a few moments?
Rest through connection
Dr. Dalton-Smith defines spiritual rest as “the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose.” In other words, how does the expression of your multipotentiality connect you with something bigger than yourself?
Connect with your purpose
I give this advice all the time when I talk to exhausted PhD students who have gotten lost in jumping the hoops necessary to earn that fancy piece of parchment paper. Often, they have lost the connection to the bigger, awe-inspiring thing that excited them enough to pursue such a difficult goal. If you feel similarly bogged down in a multipotentialite pursuit that’s making you question why you started in the first place, stop. See if you can reconnect with the bigger purpose – the why – behind what you’ve chosen to do. Before you start pursuing your goal again, what will you do, create, or connect with to remind yourself of your purpose for the next time your energy starts to flag?
If that purpose seems lost or no longer relevant to you, it’s ok to let it go, too. Dr. Marla Gottschalk says, “all of this hanging on doesn’t serve us. It can bring a fog that clouds new opportunities and can fuel bitterness.” Feeling drained of energy whenever you pursue a particular goal can be a sign that the goal no longer serves you, your health, or your happiness.
Connect with your people
The second way to rest through connection is to spend more time with people who fill up your energy bank. When you’re feeling low energy, it’s ok to avoid people who deplete your energy even more. It’s ok to prioritize people who bring you joy and restore your energy. I’m saying “it’s ok” but I’m really screaming “PLEASE DO THIS” because your presence on this earth is sacred. Don’t waste it on people who offer you no return on the generous investment of your multipotentialite gifts into their life.
So, who is your energy vampire? It’s ok, you don’t have to write their name in the comments section. (Please don’t—I’m still a people-pleaser.) Just whisper it to me right now. Then promise me that when you feel them draining your life force, you will remember to pivot away and set some healthy boundaries with them.
Who is your energy booster? Turn towards that person and give yourself permission to relax into their presence. Feel your energy being renewed.
So my multipotentialite friend, how will you be more chill this week? What type of rest will you pursue to restore your energy? You’re worth it.