Your energy is your currency – how to fill your spark account

Once in Helsinki, I saw a circus performance of two men doing demanding physical tricks, and I noticed how in between their stunts, the men visibly slowed down the pace and relaxed – to save energy for their next trick!

The show opened my eyes not only for their admirable skills but for the insight on how energy should be regulated. If we push and work straight through without breaks, we get exhausted, our productivity drops and performance suffers.

“Delivering higher levels of energy to a light bulb will not make it brighter; instead, more energy will make the bulb explode. […] The same concept of optimization versus maximization is true for human beings. Too much motivation or energy can lead to detriments in long-term performance [..]” states a research article on employee energy.1

We are not machines with infinite power. We need to charge our batteries between activities, plus think when and how to use our valuable energy.

“While working on The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci regularly took off from painting for several hours at a time and seemed to be daydreaming aimlessly. Urged by his patron, the prior of Santa Maria delle Grazie, to work more continuously, da Vinci is reported to have replied, immodestly but accurately, ‘The greatest geniuses accomplish more when they work less.’ ”2
― Tony Schwartz

What is energy and why does it matter?

Energy is defined for instance as “the capacity for doing work“, “the capacity of acting or being active intellectual energy” and “a usually positive spiritual force.3,4 In this text the word energy refers to us humans feeling energetic and vibrant, to having physical and mental power.

When you have enough energy, you will be able to bring your best into your relationships, work and other parts of the life. You have a better focus and things happen smoother.

Where to get more energy?
“Find the thing that makes your heart sing”

We know that healthy sleep, nutrition and exercise are the main sources of energy (and each of them are big topics) but what else can we cultivate to feel energized?

Sometimes – even if you would have slept well, eaten healthy and moved your body – you may still feel a lack of energy. This is when your personal vitality sources step in.

You can start by making your own, unique list of things that give you good energy for example under the following categories.

List of things that give you energy

ActivitiesThingsPlacesSensory experiencesPeople
an activity or situation that energizes youa thing that energizes youa place that energizes youa sight, scent, taste or feeling that energizes youa person who energizes you

Write down as many things as you wish. The things can be big or small, for example, one of the places can be anything from your favorite armchair to a certain city or a place online.

Once the list is done keep it in a place where you can easily find it and start implementing the listed things into each day and week. One idea is to have a specific ‘happy hour every day, when you do some of these things that bring you positive excitement.

When I asked my son, what gives him energy, he said it comes from the slide. Actually, there are many energizing elements relating to slide/playground: movement, being with friends and family, being outdoors in the sunlight, playing and having fun in the moment. One great recipe for building energy!

10 ways to boost your energy
(besides sleep, nutrition and exercise)

1) Meeting and connecting with others, offline and online. It can be especially energizing if the people you interact with feel like your tribe and get you, cheer you and believe in you.

2) Planning and dreaming can give us mental energy. A research by University of Hamburg suggests that mental energy can create also physiological energy. In the study, the mental energy from person’s expectations of successfully reaching the desired future reflected in a change in blood pressure and an increased ability to perform a physical task.6,7

3) Supporting and helping others (including animals), and giving gifts without assuming anything back. Several studies support that helping others lift our mood. Volunteering is one way to help but there are also many ways to delight people close to you.

4) Being in nature, noticing its beauty and details. Connecting with nature by touching the plants, stones and ground, listening to the sounds, smelling the flowers, swimming in the natural waters, soaking up the sun…

5) Doing a task from your to-do list, for example something you’ve been postponing for quite some time.

6) Breathing exercises. You can for example try the Wim Hof Method. In a nutshell, you relax and take about 30 deep breaths. After the last exhalation, you inhale as deeply as you can and then let the air out and stop breathing – and when you feel the urge to breathe again, you draw one big breath, hold it for around 15 seconds and then let go.

7) Soundscapes. Test different types of music for different types of moments. Or maybe it’s nature sounds or silence that offers you good kind of energy.

8) Doing creative activities such as painting, playing music, singing, acting, cooking, writing, knitting, woodwork… Whatever you’re into! Albeit this one comes with a warning/an extra tip: set a time frame for the creative work so that you don’t get completely sucked into the flow and forget to take breaks to eat, sleep, drink water, move your body and so on.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
― Oprah Winfrey

9) Changing things. Variety takes our brain off autopilot. You can mix things up for example by visiting a new place, meeting with new people (for example in a webinar), trying a new hobby, taking a new route, changing the order of furniture at home or by combining different activities such as listening to disco music while cleaning.

10) Humor. Seeing things in an amusing light makes everything lighter and creates merry energy. For example, the web is full of entertaining comedy clips you can watch to tune into a humorous mood.

And even if we couldn’t constantly access our favorite energy boosters, it’s the general attitude that counts, the ability to throw oneself into the moments and catch good energy almost anywhere – to seek more sustainable Joie de vivre kind of state.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein

Once you have it, how will you use it?

When your bank is filled with bounce, the big question arises: To which things, actions and people you will invest your energy assets?

“Put time and energy into the people and projects that enhance who and how you are. These include the important people in your life, work, good food, leisure and pleasure. Most importantly of all, befriend yourself and forgive yourself because not having yourself on side, supported and loved, may just be the biggest energy thief of them all.” 5
a psychotherapist Atalanta Beaumont

Energy is precious. Collect it heartily, cherish it dearly and use it wisely.

Writer and illustrator

Helena Jalanka is a visual storyteller and designer originally from Finland. She has also lived in Australia, Singapore and Switzerland with her family. Helena has a MA in New Media and studies of social psychology – one of her many interests. She loves nature and arts.

Need illustrations or creative consultancy?


Welbourne, S. Andrews, A. Andrews, University of Michigan Business School

2 The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great
Book by Tony Schwartz

3 Energy, definition

4 Energy, definition

5 The Energy Vampires That Stop You from Thriving
Psychology Today, Atalanta Beaumont

6 Mental Contrasting and Transfer of Energization
Sevincer, Busatta, Oettingen

7 Mental Energy and Physiological Energy, Energizing goals energizes the body too
Art Markman Ph.D.

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