June 11, 2018

Where do you turn when you want to celebrate a really good day at work?

How do you process feeling just off?

Whether it’s journaling, coffee with a friend, or escaping to a murder mystery novel—the little things we turn to in a moment of need help shift and shape our energy.

Feel a little meta? Think about music.

Whether you've had a hefty cathartic cry to Adele's “Hello,” got lifted with John Legend's “Used to Love You” or felt butterflies with Beyonce's “Love on Top”—those songs, those artists, evoked an energy in you. They created a vibe, opening a channel of communication between you and your (sometimes previously unidentified) feelings.

That energy could've brought you to a place of openness. Excitement. Surprise. Vulnerability.

Our environment, what we read, how we exercise, and pretty much everything around us can evoke a unique vibe within us.

Our environment, what we read, how we exercise, and pretty much everything around us can evoke a unique vibe within us.

The challenge is making sure we’re pointing ourselves to what we need when we need it—we like to call these things our "Energy Go-Tos." It’s making sure that playlist or person serves us when we need a boost.

Here’s how to pinpoint your Energy Go-Tos:

Who You Spend Time With:

It’s often said we are the average of the top five people we spend time with. And while we don’t always have control of who we’re spending all our time with, we can control who we choose to spend our free time with.

Whether it’s that chill friend that doesn’t require us to be “on” after a bad day, or that high-energy friend who always knows the best things to do to have a good time—just like a song, different people play varying roles when it comes to our energy.

Different people play varying roles when it comes to our energy.

Next time you’re feeling in need of some fren-ergy (yes, we did that), gravitate toward the people who show up for you, physically and emotionally. Tap the people who want to celebrate your wins. Or, the people who can help you work through your feelings—as confusing as they might be in the moment.

Most importantly: Look for the people who lean in when you raise your hand asking for help. Sometimes, that person might even be a professional—a therapist, a counselor—and that’s more than OK.

What You Listen To:

Whether music’s your thing or podcasts make you feel elevated, remember to take note of what you’re putting into those beautiful ears and what need it fills for you.

Podcasts, for example, have been known to create “an unusual sense of intimacy” that allows us to connect over shared human experiences. Specifically, they can help us feel less alone when we’re dealing with our mental health.

“Listening to a podcast specifically about mental health can work on multiple levels,” Rachel Annunziato, an associate professor of psychology at Fordham University, told BuzzFeed. “The first is letting people know they’re not the only ones to feel this way. The second is that it’s delivered in a format usually consumed in private, releasing it from stigma.”

Whether you’re listening to a podcast explicitly about self-care, hearing a well-known celebrity share their story, or getting some special one-on-one time with a crime thriller—take note of what podcasts or playlists affect your energy tank for the better.

What You Read:

“We read to know we’re not alone” - William Nicholson

Just like podcasts, reading stories—real or fictional–gives us powerful insight into other’s experiences and provide their own source of energy.

Research shows that fiction actually “makes the world a better place by improving interpersonal understanding.” By reading fiction, we increase our empathy, and “reinforce our ethics of decency,” helping us better navigate our own experiences and connections with others.

Whether you identify with the protagonist’s struggle in Little Fires Everywhere or you’re inspired by the resilience of the characters in Homegoing, reading not only fuels us, it helps us de-stress. In fact, just six minutes of reading can reduce stress by 68 percent.

Just six minutes of reading can reduce stress by 68 percent.

Notice what type of stories serve you best. When you’re feeling that type of energy is low, grab that favorite read and dig in.

What You Work On:

Spreadsheets get you jazzed? Keep calm and type on.

Love a good brainstorm? Make time to get other brains in the room to riff off of.

It’s not just what work you do, but the way you do the work that can offer different sources of energy based on your needs. Remember what you can control when you go to work, and try to make more time for what serves you.

And, if you’re able to, give in to a mini-side hustle copywriting for the non-profit you’ve always wanted to work with or set aside time to practice your calligraphy. Know that every type of work doesn’t have to be about cash or our full-time gig—it can simply be about needing to do something with our hands or exercising a different part of our brain.

Energy, and its many sources (including other humans), is way more complex than just toxic and non-toxic.

Energy is way more complex than just toxic and non-toxic.

Today, ask yourself what you need and check if your Energy Go-Tos will help you get there. If not: Discover that new playlist or book or take steps to find someone to talk to.

Whether it’s getting out of a little funk or dealing with something much deeper, it can always get better.

On a separate note, in the wake of multiple public suicides last week, we want to remind you that you are never alone.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). If you or someone you care about needs help, text 741741 to talk with a crisis counselor at Crisis Text Line—it's free, confidential, and available 24/7.


Read next: 6 Ways to Protect Your Energy in 2018