Feature Article: "Eliminating Energy Drains: Identifying
Stressors in You Life"

Have you ever noticed how much energy it takes to stew
about something? Stress is your body’s response to an
undesirable situation. When you experience an event you
perceive as stressful, the stress hormone adrenaline is
released. Your heart beats faster, your breath quickens,
and your blood pressure rises. Your liver increases its
output of blood sugar, and blood flow gets diverted to
your brain and muscles. You’re now ready to “fight or take
flight.” After the threat passes, your body relaxes again.

You may be able to handle an occasional stressful event,
but when it happens repeatedly, the effects compound
over time and can have negative effects on your health.
Long-term, stress has been shown to cause heart disease,
ulcers, high blood pressure, and low immunity.

You either reduce stress with energy deposits or increase
stress with energy drains. Some people exposure
themselves to constant energy drains. To reduce stress,
you must seek to minimize things that sap your energy:

Time commitments. When I began my speaking business
in 1992, I joined seven different professional organizations
to expand my network of contacts. After a year of
attending all those meetings, I dreaded the thought of
going. I stepped back and evaluated each one of them in
terms of my return on time: “What do I receive from this
membership?” “Is my investment of time and money
worth the benefits I receive?” “Has this organization
directly impacted my bottom-line?” Everything can have
some benefit to your career. Ask yourself what specific
benefits you can trace to your involvement and determine
its worth. I quit all but three associations, to which I still
belong today.

Chronic worrying. Worrying can be a big waste of time.
Legitimate worries are real concerns and are actually
problems to be solved. Others worries may never happen,
such as, “The company lost money this quarter. I wonder if
that means we’re in trouble and I’m going to lose my job.”
This type of worrying is often a symptom of insecurity and
reflects a lack of self-confidence. Worrying about the
future causes nervous fatigue and can destroy your focus.
So make an appointment with yourself to worry. Start a
brainstorming session with, “What should I do about…”
and write down possible solutions. If you discover there’s
nothing you can actively do to reduce your concerns, it’s
probably not a worthy thing to worry about. Promise
yourself you’ll worry about it when and if it happens. You
can only afford to spend time and energy on legitimate

Interpersonal conflicts. “I simply cannot stand that man.”
“I can’t believe she did that.” Unresolved conflict
dissipates your mental strength, causes tension and
fatigue, and is self-destructive. Ongoing anger wears you
down emotionally and leaves you feeling out of control.
Instead of letting conflicts eat at you, determine the most
expedient way to resolve the situation. You could choose
to give into the other person. You could settle on a
compromise and give up something to get something. You
could develop new alternatives, so that both of you still
reach your goals and feel good about the situation. You
always have a choice in how you handle a conflict. Choose
the best reaction and let go of the situation.

Demanding friendships. Friendship is a delicate balance of
give and take. When you’re having a rough time, you need
support. Sometimes your friends need you. In the end, it
all balances out, right? But what if it doesn’t? I’ve had
people in my life that took and took and never gave back. I
no longer have a friendship with those people. Friendship
isn’t psychotherapy.

The above items are all examples of things that sap your
energy. There are many more. You can create a T-chart that
lists “Things I enjoy” on one side and “Things I dislike” on
the other. Once you identify the things that sap your
energy, you can identify possible ways to eliminate them.
The important shift is to recognize that you have choices
and options in the way you live and respond to stressful

Make it a productive day!

(C) Copyright 2004 Laura Stack, MBA, CSP. All rights
reserved. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted in
your organization or association newsletter, provided the
following credit line is present:

"Laura M. Stack, MBA, CSP, is "The Productivity PRO," (R)
helping people leave the office earlier, with less stress, and
more to show for it. She presents keynotes and seminars
on time management, information overload, and personal
productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or
[email protected]."