Finding your energy.. the feminine way
Over the past few months I have been on a little energy adventure… swinging from all guns blazing one moment, to a complete depletion the next. I think describing it as an energetic roller coaster sums it up nicely!
I have always been a very energetic person - naturally I was always very high vibe and enthusiastic. I never found energy levels a problem - I could jump out of bed before dawn to spend time with the horses, I could head to the gym and workout intensely and still have the energy to work a busy job and juggle a hectic social calendar.
But over the past few years I have noticed that energy dwindling slightly.
So what changed?
While I am not one to blame getting older on a lack of energy (age is but a number right?), I cannot deny the fact that the last twelve years or so have been emotionally, physically and soulfully draining!
By selling and moving on from my previous PR & Marketing business eighteen months ago, I thought that I was leaving the burnout, the stress, the anxiety and the worry behind me. I genuinely believed that simply by working in an industry that resonated deeply with my heart, I would ‘fix’ that problem.
It took me the last eighteen months to really understand that while the industry I was in was not as big a passion as it had been previously, the issue was not actually purely down to the business, but actually the mindset I was stuck in.
I have always been in the ‘hustle’ mode of doing business. I have always strived for more, seen others as competition, set big (sometimes hard to attain) goals and generally taken a lot of pride in my ‘get sh*t done’ attitude. My Virgo perfectionism means that I can be highly self critical and unless I achieved certain things - in my eyes I was a failure.
And in all honesty - it worked. I created a thriving, financially successful, well recognised and highly respected business.
But at what cost?
From an early age I believed that in order to be successful you had to work hard. You had to push and force and drive, drive, drive, even if that meant burning out. In fact - being exhausted and working all hours of the day became a bit of a badge of honour. Being busy was celebrated - even if that meant not having time to eat a decent lunch or spend time doing things that brought me joy. Being busy meant success… right?
It has taken over a decade of anxiety, digestive issues, panic attacks, a damaged disc in my back, hormonal and fertility issues, a loss of personal identity, relationship challenges and a complete career change for me to start listening to the messages my body has been sending me all along.
And one of the hardest things that this ‘hard and fast work ethic’ has taught me, is that my female body is not designed to work in this way.
Embracing my femininity...
Over five years ago I began to have irregular periods. Over three years ago my periods stopped completely. They have not been back since.
To share this with you feels so utterly terrifying because as a woman, having a menstrual cycle feels like an integral part of our journey. To be stripped of that - for whatever reason - feels like a big chunk of what ‘being a woman’ really is - even though I know deep down that it doesn’t make me less of one.
It also feels scary because we have been brought up in a world where talking about our monthly bleed is deemed as ‘not appropriate’ or even ‘disgusting’ at times.
After the frustration of many, many doctors appointments (just go on the pill they say!), several scans, gynecology appointments, a lot of probing (literally!), blood tests, alternative therapies, diet ‘fixes’, lifestyle changes… the list goes on… there are still very little answers for me.
And so I have to trust and listen to my body - because ultimately it is the wisest thing I know.
I have read books, signed up to expert websites, paid out thousands of pounds to people who have tried to help me and yet I have had to resign myself to the fact that this is part of my healing journey and a part of ‘my story’ that I have to accept rather than try and fix. Because I am not broken, I have never been broken and I don’t believe any of us are ‘broken’ - despite what the world leads us to believe.
It really is about balance...
Throughout my research I have looked at my whole lifestyle - not just my diet and my exercise, - but also the way I run my business and act in everyday life. In doing so, I have discovered a lot of information about the difference between masculine and feminine energy. Now before you think I am about to start ‘man bashing’ here - this isn’t just about being either male or female - we all have both masculine and feminine energy in us.
I promise to delve deeper into this in another post soon, as it is something that is very close to my heart, and deserves full recognition, however for the purpose of understanding this article masculine energy is very much on a linear path - it doesn’t alter throughout the month - hormone levels stay the same. Feminine energy, on the other hand, is a cyclical process and transitions over time - hormones vary and go up and down. So when a woman is labelled as being ‘hormonal’ - and it is seen as a very negative thing - she is simply connected to her natural cycle - even if she doesn’t realise it.
Using your cycle...
A woman’s menstrual cycle is a good way to monitor this, however when you are like me and don’t have such an evident one, then I use the cycle of the moon and my ‘listening practice’ to help me evaluate my own natural, and very unique, energy cycle.
When I look back on the way I have always run my business - it has always been with a dominance of masculine energy - a linear way. The same routine each and every day regardless of how I feel. Constant pushing, forcing and ignoring my own body. Over time I disconnected from my own natural cycle - and formed an attachment to a strict routine that I had to stick to - regardless - which over time burned me out.
The burnout epidemic
More and more women I know are stressed out, frazzled, overwhelmed, exhausted and completely drained. They have lost their way when it comes to joy and pleasure, they feel shame and disconnect, anxiousness and depression. My personal instinct is that this is largely because over the past few decades there has been an increase in pressure on women to match up to men in the working world.
And do not get me wrong - I am absolutely a true feminist and believe that both men and women are beautifully equal in so many ways - however we are DIFFERENT. And that is not something to shy away from - but something to embrace.
Getting a little bit scientific...
When women force themselves to work in a very linear way consistently, it undoubtedly at some point catches up on both their mind and body. Stress produces the hormone cortisol and cortisol takes priority over our reproductive hormones - because when we were being chased by a sabre tooth tiger in the old days - cortisol would have saved our lives - progesterone and oestrogen wouldn’t!!!
However, the stress we face nowadays (in the developed world at least) is generally not the same life threatening experience that it was before, however our body doesn’t know this. When we are under constant deadlines, pushing when we need to rest, not sleeping well, feeling tired but wired, eating a lot of processed food and refined sugar, surviving on coffee and generally overloading our body - the result is a continual state of stress - therefore our body may end up naturally ‘switching off’ the non essential systems.
And so, my body has given me a massive reality check when it comes to learning to work and run my business - and live my life - according to the natural cycles of my energy. And I am finally stepping up and listening.
Time to sit and listen
Here are a few of the ways that I have learned to stop, sit and listen in order to honour this natural cycle. It is a continuous learning process I have to admit, however the most important thing is to be aware and make conscious choices based on how you truly feel...
Sitting and listening to how I feel - getting still - even for a few moments to check in with how I feel. Yoga and walking is a great place to do this if being totally still feels too daunting right now. Try this yoga video I just uploaded to my YouTube channel to help you.
Finding my way back to alignment when it comes to doing things that bring me joy, give me pleasure, reduce my cortisol and make me feel good. This has meant shifting my business focus back towards my mentoring and coaching and accepting that teaching yoga day in and day out is just not for me. Check out my joy worksheet over here to help reconnect back to yours.
Accepting my body as it is on each day. Which means taking gentler days, not going to the gym at 6.30am to do a heavy weights session even though my google calendar tells me to, allowing myself to take a long lunch break and finishing work having done the bare minimum on some days.
Explaining and educating the people around me that it is OK for me to be emotional and that some days I need to watch Heartland for hours and eat a whole chocolate bar - while other days I can work with my productive energy and be very efficient. It isn’t laziness - it is how I am created!
I would love to hear from anyone that relates to any aspect of this article, or perhaps you have a different experience or opinion and would like to share it. I believe that it is time to begin more conversations about this topic so please do comment, email me here and share this post with anyone you feel would find it interesting.
If you want to discuss this on a more personal level with me, please do get in touch.
Don't forget that the Early Bird price runs out on 14th August for my 28 Day Reconnect online programme. You can find out all the details here.