Sustainable Service: Personal Energy Optimization at Work and in Life
Avoiding burnout in the service industry is a high priority. Whether internal or external, customers often demand more than any one person has to give. Optimizing one’s personal energy resources is essential to avoid burnout and ensure long-term success.
PEO is a win/win/win
Forget win/win, taking care of one’s energy is a winner all the way around. Chronic low energy, on the other hand is a lose/lose/lose. The drained employee feels rotten, the customer receives low levels of attention (attention is focused energy), and the environment in which the employee inhabits ends up being the recipient of overflowing negativity.
Maintaining vitality in the midst of a demanding job starts with the employee. You can’t give what you don’t have, so step one is to learn how to keep your energy in check. Balanced energy leads to well-being, focus and creativity. This quality of presence directly benefits the customer through increased attention, creative problem solving and quality work. Further, energized people are more positive, resulting in pleasant air around them.
Emotional energy is contagious. All you have to do is walk into a room where two people are having a conflict to feel the palpable tension. So it’s safe to say that a few exhausted employees can infect a whole department, not to mention the well-meaning customers who are just trying to get their needs met. Positive energy is contagious as well. In a healthy environment, we feel free to express ourselves and do our best work.
PEO is a Continuous Process
While work is the focus of this article, managing one’s personal energy is ongoing. The choices we make can affect us for up to several days or more. Energy optimization is like dieting in this sense. It often takes three days of good eating choices before the number on the scale goes down. Managing your energy is the same. What you do today affects the quality of your presence tomorrow, and the next day…
PEO is also holistic. The human energy system is like any other system in nature, it is highly complex and interrelated. Losing energy in one area will affect the entire system. PEO requires that we take the whole person into account including: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of oneself, and also the environments in which we spend our time.
• Receive as much energy as you give. There is an epidemic of people suffering from chronic low energy. While life is easier in many ways, the ease does not always serve us. We are less physical, which proves to be an overall drain. Physical activity shakes off toxins and helps the energy system remain dynamic. In addition, multi-tasking is becoming the norm, as with having a phone in one hand while the other is on the steering wheel. Fragmenting one’s attention for long periods of time is draining. Focused attention allows energy to move in one direction, nourishing us in the process. In addition to our hurried, sedentary, and fragmented life styles, many of us are sleeping less, which research has shown to increase the onset of many illnesses.
Adequate amounts of sleep, focused attention on the task at hand and regular physical activity can begin to reverse the chronic energy deficit many of us are experiencing. In addition, a morning meditation practice is ideal. It balances left/right brain functioning and provides a healthy dose of quality energy.
• Breathe Deeply. The quality of oxygen has declined in most of our big cities. Additionally, stress and rushing leads to shallow breathing. It’s no wonder that many of us are living off stress hormones. The key to fending off the all too familiar flight or flight response – the equivalent to an energetic roller coaster ride - is taking consistent, full breaths. Proper breathing provides the physical benefits of adequate oxygen while keeping us present and grounded –overall, a big step toward maintaining consistent energy.
• Disconnect from Negativity. While a juicy gossip session can put some bounce in an otherwise dull day, this type of communication is toxic. It leaves slime on all who participate. The same is true for all negative or judgmental communication in the workplace. Replace gossip and judging with discernment. Use common sense when dealing with others while setting the emotional attachment aside.
• Take Breaks. Learn to monitor your energy levels and take a break at the first sign of fatigue. Walk briskly to the restroom while taking deep breaths. Nosh on an apple – focusing only on the apple, or go outside for some fresh air. Little mini-breaks infuse one with vitality.
Vitality and wellbeing come from the small choices we make throughout the day. All it takes is a little prevention along with mindfulness about your energy levels, so that you can make the choices that lead to optimal energy.