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Human Performance

Beware of the Energy Vampires

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Having worked with financial advisors for nearly a decade, I’ve seen a lot of stress and burnout. Sometimes, in the daily grind of being an advisor, bad habits can sneak up on us. Fortunately, with the right mind-set, even the worst habits can be overcome.

As part of my practice in integrative neuroscience and holistic wellness, I’ve identified the top five energy pitfalls among top performers – and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Flatlining

Those days when you’re doing back-to-back meetings in an “always-on” state? You may think all that adrenaline is your best friend. But, it turns out it’s a fickle friendship. Just as the name implies, flatlining occurs when the body operates in a continuous state of energy with no intervals of recovery or recharging.

THE SOLUTION:

Take breaks! At regular intervals, schedule time to relax. On high-performance days with a lot of client interaction, take 5-10 minutes of alone time between meetings for quiet reflection and deep breathing. These short periods of down time will recharge your body for better balance and endurance.

2. Second-hand Stress

The most successful financial advisors share a common trait: empathic personalities. Being able to listen and truly understand another’s perspective, to intuitively know how to negotiate with any person in any situation – those are winning skills for any sales person. But there’s a downside to all that empathy: it can also make you sensitive to the stress and other negative emotions in those around you.

THE SOLUTION:
There will always be moments when our clients, colleagues and even family will bring stressful energy into your world – that’s just part of life. And while we can be sympathetic, we don’t have to take it on. Learn where to draw boundaries. Stay focused on the things you can control, and the things that fulfill you. By maintaining a positive mind-set, you’ll demonstrate strong leadership and, very likely, bring calm and comfort to the “stressors” among you.

3. Faulty Fuel

Fueling your body with food is essential. But overdoing – or underdoing – it can obliterate your reserves of energy.

THE SOLUTION:
Be strategic in how you eat. Several small meals and snacks throughout the day maintain consistent energy and metabolism. Watch your beverage consumption as well. A little coffee may kick-start your day and a glass of wine may wind you down at the end of it, but too much of either one can have a crash and burn after-effect. And of course, drink plenty of water. Being dehydrated is the number one cause of feeling tired.

4. Lack of Movement

Today they say sitting is the new smoking, and the science is there to prove it. The average U.S. adult sits for nearly eight hours per day, leading to everything from heart disease to back problems to a foggy brain.

THE SOLUTION:
Plan to move regularly throughout the day. Sitting may be a hard habit to break since it’s so ingrained in every part of our lives, but building in alternatives will have extraordinary effects. Use an app that reminds you to stand and walk around every 60 minutes. Add a standing desk to your office, so you can alternate how you work. Or promise yourself to start standing and pacing with every phone call you take, so you’ll get blood pumping to your brain and stay sharp while you talk.

Related: What’s Wealth Without Health?

5. Brain Fatigue

Just like your body, the brain is an organ that uses different parts to execute various functions. And it needs a regular “total workout” to stay in shape. Overtaxing certain parts of your brain, like the logical/analytical portion, while undertraining others (creative/reflexive) can leave you feeling out of balance and losing steam. And multitasking, once a badge of honor, is really leading to decreased productivity, leaving you feeling frustrated and stressed.

THE SOLUTION:
Variety. Obviously, doing the same thing all day every day, can leave you drained. Build in small steps that can help you stretch in ways you’re not accustomed to. Start your day by writing a few sentences in a journal about gratitude. Rather than saving up for one big vacation a year, take several long weekends throughout the year. Allow your brain to open up to discovery and experience on a regular basis. Make something – anything – with your hands. Before long, you’ll achieve the overall cognitive fitness you need to maintain a healthy and happy life.

The Power is Yours

Whether it’s how you plan your day, construct your life or how you react to events around you, never forget that you are in control. And the key to keeping that control is planning ahead and always having a strategy for maintaining a healthy balance.

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