Invest Your Energy

Invest your energy for greater returns and more energy

Depression can feel like a deep hole that you just can’t get a foothold to climb out of.  But some people have found that even from deep inside the hole, there is a way to get at least a toehold, which can lead to another fingerhold, and so on, until you begin to see the light of day again.

What’s the secret?  Reinvestment.  If you own shares in a mutual fund, you’re encouraged to reinvest (buy more shares) each time you get an interest or dividend payment.  Even though those payments may be small, each reinvestment makes your share capital that much bigger, and your financial goals that much closer.

Using this metaphor for building energy, we suggest you try doing just one small thing that makes you feel good.  Turn on some music; take a long, hot shower; go outside and look at the sky.  Just one small thing.

That one small feel-good act will give you a very small lift of energy, then you use that energy to do one more good thing.  Fix a healthy sandwich, Take the dog for a walk, call a friend to say “hi”.  The lift you get from the second thing will give you just enough energy to do the third thing.  And so on…

Do you make a To-do list?

If your to-do list is getting out of hand, and it makes you tired just looking at it, this “reinvestment” strategy can help.  Pick out the easier (but still important) things on the list and do them right away.  Each crossed-out item represents a lift of energy that can be invested into the next, more difficult task, and the next.  Think like a runner:  move back and run towards the goal, building up momentum as you go.  By the time you get to the high jumps, you have a lot of success already behind you pushing you up and over the hard stuff.

Mood Homeostasis

Behavioral scientists have observed that healthy people “budget” their energy, using high energy times for doing jobs that are less fun (like housework) and saving the easier stuff for times when energy is not so high.  They call it “mood homeostasis”, which just means keeping the mood stable by investing high moods in low mood tasks and vice versa.

What this means is that there is hope, even if you’re deeply depressed and a long way from homeostasis. You can use the same insight to get yourself moving forward.  Do fun things, and keep reinvesting the energy until you have enough to take on the harder stuff of life.