Energy expenditure in HSMs – my own experience
Energy expenditure. Sounds like a line item on an airline budget. Most non-HSPs don’t usually gives this much of a second thought, but HSM’s like myself do. Because we rev a little higher with our motors, we tend to experience energy fluctuations on a daily basis. The things that tend to trip us up is the lack of energy after a particularly exhausting exchange with our environments or with others around us.
I know myself, right now as I am writing this; my energy levels seem to be fading. I just finished a big meal, and my body is slowing down to process the food and my mind is a bit cloudy. So, we’ll see how this entry turns out. Most people have this type of slow down after a big meal, but it seems we HSPs, tend to drop energy, off and on, throughout the day.
It’s almost as if we go into a hibernation period at various points in the day, to conserve energy or to recharge.
This can be annoying to our colleagues as many are non-HSPs and tend to be more high energy than we are, couple that with being amped up on caffeine drinks, they can sometimes seem to be flying around at warp speed, while we are just doing well to move at all. Of course, I exaggerate.
This can lead to accusations of HSPs being lazy or passive, or lacking energy or even worse, not being fun to be around. Yikes.
Because of our higher capacity to process sensory data, we are often left exhausted after a busy day, as our brains and bodies tire of the constant influx of information. Interestingly, I don’t often experience this in a linear way, up or down, but rather as energy fluctuations throughout the day, more like waves of energy, crests and troughs.
These ups and downs of alternating energy are what cause many of our non-HSP associates to see us as being moody and irritable. It’s like we have our own hyperactive bio-rhythm that nobody, including ourselves can follow or even predict. If you couple that with the notion that we are “picking up” on others’ moods, this can exhaust and deplete even the heartiest HSM.
Downtime is necessary
For HSPs downtime is a critical part of the recovery of the energy process. We lose a lot of energy, with thought, via the environment and our social interactions. Very often, just getting away for an hour or two is necessary to recharge our batteries and process the seemingly eternal flow of input. Getting away is not always feasible, especially during a work day. Managing a few micro breaks, for a breath, a quick nap or even just some quiet time looking at a tree, makes a big difference in turning off the spigot.
HSMs are no different than HSP females in how we process life stressors. Although, I see the tendency in myself is to just suck it up and plow through the day, even if it’s at twenty per cent attention or less. Burn out is not a very masculine aspiration, or one many HSMs are willing to admit to. And because most of us don’t choose our careers wisely based upon our personality type, we often fall victim to the effects of overwork, over stress and physically burdening our bodies with the toxic overflow. Hello, disease.
When over the top, becomes overwhelm
Continuing to prime the pump, when the well is dry, is the perfect formula for overwhelm. Overwhelm what a word. It almost sounds a bit prissy, doesn’t it? The image that comes to mind for me is a huge tidal wave “overwhelming” everything in its path – including me. I mean really, would it be any less of a problem to just stop at “whelming?”
Seriously, this is a societal problem. We, as a culture have taken the Puritan work ethic and made it a 24/7, 365 (this is actually seen as a positive in our cultural lexicon) expression of an ideal work ethic. This is disaster for HSPs. Clearly not good for HSMs, or non-HSPs, dogs, cats or any living thing. But as HSMs we often adopt this philosophy without question.
Living in an “always on” culture
For years I worked at a large corporation in the Information Technology department. We had a CIO who coined the term “Always On” as our exuberant work theme. It became a part of our culture. No down time for machines, software or people. Whatever it took to keep the company IT platforms always on was our imperative. This is great for a bunch of pimply faced computer geeks, just out of college, with no families, and with an unwavering love of all things technical, but for most of us, older, familied workers, we appreciated having the time to leave work behind. To turn the light off, as it were and relax in the shaded, quiet spaces beyond the persistent lights of the data centers.
For an HSM male and a manager, this work condition was especially difficult for me. With each merger and acquisition the competitiveness, the relentless call of work and the stress of high energy millennials napping at my heels, eventually got the best of me. I took an early retirement, walked away from corporate life and starting to experience the rejuvenation of relaxing walks, of highly indulgent 45 minute meditations in the morning and the freedom of making my own schedules. It helped enormously.
Tools and strategies for recovery
I started my own business, focusing on helping people relax and recollect themselves. HSPs or not, we all need to learn this type of resiliency. I learned about hypnotherapy and neurofeedback and crafted a business on helping people recapture that quietness in their brains. It’s been a great move for me; I get to help people relax, by using the innate powers of their own brains.
Of course, there are many ways to accomplish this objective. A good way to start, is putting the right things in your body. Avoiding excessive sugar and grains has helped me by avoiding the roller coaster of spikes in blood sugar.
Recognize that as HSPs we need to set boundaries and sometimes temporary barriers around ourselves to allow for decompression. This could be getting some good alone time from family and friends to do things that allow you to de-stress. An apt term for this is what Dr. Elaine Arons calls emotional regulation. Being mindful of our energy fluctuations and respecting our own personal bio-rhythms, to help regulate the ups and downs that come with recharging and depletion of energy.
You may need to make some environmental adjustments: change the lighting in the room, adjust the ambient sounds with music that soothes and serves as white noise, even burn some incense, light a scented candle, or buy an essential oil diffuser. These often subtle changes can alter and uplift your mood. I particularly do this when I’m writing. These are all senses I use, but not as primary; yet, I benefit from the sensory input – all creating a calming and relaxing effect. Allowing me to work while minimizing stressors and extending my energy.
Above all, get alone. This solitude is good for the soul and good for you as a highly sensing creature. I like the term solitude over aloneness, because it sounds more like a deliberate act, an act of choice.
Because of our “always on” culture, we are always seemingly connected to something-- our phones, our tablets, our laptops, the internet, television…always connected. Our technology is trapping us into a dependency of connectivity and moving us away from solitude. HSPs crave, no require solitude in order to function at full capacity for those brief intense periods of time. Like night and day, wake and sleep, we need our cycles of downtime to match our intensity when we are “on”. As Dr. Ester Buchholz says, “Solitude is required for the unconscious to process and unravel problems.” And like deep sleep is critical to proper wakeful functioning, we need our breaks.
I am concerned that many men such as myself, HSMs trying to live life as relentless drivers of constant functionality and busyness that we are pushing our limits and limiting ourselves by doing so. We are creative, emotional, intuitive creatures that offer our nuanced interpretations of life back to the society at large. Because we often ride the fire hose of sensory data, our energy levels fluctuate throughout the course of our days, and our reactions to such, can be perplexing to many.
Finding meaningful work for HSMs is not just a lovely sentiment, but imperative to our health and well-being. Since the work environment consumes much of our waking time, this is essential to maximizing our gifts and our usefulness to society. This may mean unconventional jobs, vocations, hobbies and pursuits, but we need the flexibility to ride our wild roller coaster energy and still feel that sense of belonging in the society at large. Many HSMs are already there – in the arts, the healing professions, and in freelancing life. I found a piece of that, but I’m still searching and listening to that small still voice inside – “don’t give up. “ And so, I rest, and work and rest again.
Thanks for dropping by, until next week…
Bill Allen lives in Bend, Oregon. He is a certified hypnotist and brain training coach at BrainPilots.com. He believes that male sensitivity is not so rare, but it can be confounding for most males living in a culture of masculine insensitivity which teaches boys and men to disconnect from their feelings and emotions. His intent is to use this blog to chronicle his personal journey and share with others.