Changing Small Habits to Maintain Your Energy

April 15, 2024

Leaders may be getting better about acknowledging that managing multiple deadlines and heavy workloads takes a toll on their employees’ wellbeing. But mitigating burnout requires more than increased awareness.

Harvard Business Review recently emphasized the importance of taking early action to prevent burnout. The key is to not ignore the subtle signs — such as lack of sleep or frequent colds and illnesses — that you’re chronically stressed.

Taking small steps to maintain your energy level each day — not just when you feel close to burning out — is crucial. Here are five kinds of “batteries” that affect individuals’ energy levels and suggestions for ways to recharge each one before it’s depleted.

  1. Physical: This battery involves your physical health, including sleep, movement, and nutrition. We all know too well the effects of losing sleep, moving less, or eating poorly: Our energy tanks. Recharge by choosing an activity you can consistently commit to. It may be a taking a weekly spin class, meeting a friend for a lunchtime walk, or even selecting the farthest parking space to get in more steps.
  2. Mental: This includes your mental clarity and ability to focus. Spending hours in front of a screen every day can sap our intellectual agility and induce brain fog. Boost your energy by taking short breaks from your screen; set a movement reminder on your phone to prompt you to get active. Or practice mindfulness each morning by using a meditation app to ground you for the day.
  3. Emotional: Your creativity and emotional intelligence are stored here. Recharge with fun activities! Create a fun music playlist or schedule a phone call with your favorite person. Also, make time for hobbies, family, and friends. Schedule an activity — attend a concert with a spouse, watch a movie with the kids, or play golf with a friend — to help ensure that you commit to it.
  4. Spiritual: This battery may be the one most taken for granted in the business world. It involves your sense of purpose. For some people, fulfillment involves religious practices. But you can restore your spiritual side by spending time in nature or giving back to your community through volunteer work.
  5. Social: This involves relationships — personal and professional. Recharge by prioritizing time with family, friends, and colleagues, as long as the interaction is not part of traditional work activities. Put activities on your calendar both to set a hard stop at work and to give yourself something to look forward to.

These small tweaks can produce big results. Being mindful of your energy and aiming to maintain an optimal level every day can help you better sustain the brisk pace you need to thrive in the legal world.