We all can find ourselves low on energy from time to time, but what can we do to protect our remaining energy reserves from outside influences?

Using spoons to describe energy levels has become a popular way to explain how draining certain tasks or activities can be. Originally used by the chronic pain community to describe energy and stamina, it has since become a more widely used metaphor for effectively explaining your limits.

The basic idea is that the number of spoons you have day-to-day may vary, and each task or activity you encounter will cost you a certain number of spoons. And for some people, once their spoons are used up, that’s it.

So, what can you do if you find yourself running low on spoons? We share six ways you can try to replenish your energy, and protect your remaining spoons.

1. Switch up your environment

Retreating to the comfort of home when we’re feeling low is only natural. A familiar environment offers a sense of safety, and security. Yet getting outside could have a significant impact on our overall wellbeing.

Spending time in nature can help alleviate stress, anxiety, and even anger, as well as boost our self-esteem. Making the most of nature doesn’t just have to mean going on a walk. Try forest bathing, gardening, or even simply spend time watching the world go by from a park bench. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy – and benefit from – nature.

2. Do something you love

For me, that’s embracing my creative side, or indulging in a bit of forward-planning. I might not have the energy to write a new article, but chances are, I do have the spoons to research or map out my ideas. For others, indulging in an episode of your favourite show or podcast might help you to switch tracks and relax.

Disengaging with that little part of your mind that wants you to feel guilt, and engaging with something that brings you joy or fulfilment, can help you to feel ready to face other tasks or responsibilities.

3. Acknowledge and honour your feelings

Pushing through and trying to find hidden energy reserves isn’t always the best answer. If your mind or body is telling you something, it’s a sign that you should do your best to listen.

It’s OK to have days where you’re running low on spoons. Take a step back, and put your needs first. There are rarely plans that can’t be cancelled and rearranged for a later date. If you struggle with putting your needs first, journaling can offer a surprisingly impactful outlet.

Writing down how you are feeling can help you to track past ways you have coped with challenging situations or low energy levels, as well as to acknowledge ways that have – and haven’t helped you to feel rested.

4. Sustain, don’t drain

Surrounding yourself with pure positivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. When we focus just on the positives, it can feel as overwhelming as when we are surrounded by those who focus solely on the negatives. Ensure you are with people who can offer you balance and space when you’re feeling mentally (or physically) drained, rather than pushing you past your limits.

5. Make time for self-reflection

There’s nothing more frustrating than having big plans that you have to cancel at the last minute. And having to cancel those plans because of how you’re feeling? It can leave you frustrated, angry, disappointed, and guilty. Avoid getting caught up in negative emotions by taking time to reflect on the situation.

Think about past similar situations. What would happen if you kept pushing yourself? Are you doing what’s best for you? What is specifically causing you to experience these feelings? Reflection helps us to better understand ourselves and how we cope with different situations.


6. Snuggle up

Hugs don’t just feel good, they’re scientifically proven to be good for us. Every time we hug, touch, or sit close with someone we care about, our bodies release oxytocin. This helps us to feel more relaxed, reduces anxiety, promotes happiness, and creates a sense of closeness with those we love.

One study published in Holistic Nursing Practice even suggested that some forms of touch may be capable of reducing pain, while another study published in the Journal Emotion, revealed that touch offers a multitude of ways of communicating without words. Who would have thought a simple hug could be so powerful? Perhaps it’s time for a snuggle, so the only question is: who’s going to be the big spoon?

If you need further advice on how to replenish your energy, visit counselling-directory.org.uk or connect with a counsellor.