Susan Steen

Susan Steen

“I am somewhat exhausted; I wonder how a battery feels when it pours electricity into a non-conductor?” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

I use my camera a lot. I usually remember to check the amount of power left in it before I go out to shoot, but recently, I discovered the power button had somehow gotten knocked to the “On” position, and when I tried to use the camera, it displayed a message, “Battery Exhausted.”

There was no way to charge it quickly enough for what I was shooting, and the correlation to my own exhaustion was too obvious to miss. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s question is one for which we might be able to surmise an answer. The power in my personal battery had run down. I was exhausted. I needed to recharge. There is a good chance you do, too.

What a year it has been! I’ve been given the opportunity to help relatives I love, share in the joy of friends I love, and continue sharing with readers my findings and personal thoughts, on topics I feel are too often avoided.

It’s November, and my sons will be celebrating birthdays, and the nation gives thanks and remembers the real story of how Thanksgiving came to be (not necessarily the sharing of a happy meal with Native Americans). And like my camera, I find I am representing the message, “Battery Exhausted” more often than I’d like. The thing is, we can help care for people and still take care of ourselves, but it takes effort on our part, which can also be exhausting.

How is your battery running these days? It was Doyle’s mention of a non-conductor that really caught my attention. How often do we pour our energy into non-conductors, into people, situations and lifestyles we shouldn’t? Whether it is your trying to please a person who will never appreciate you or allowing activities like scrolling on a phone or arguing on social media to literally suck the energy from you, non-conductors exhaust us needlessly.

Have you ever used jumper cables to send a surge of energy to a battery in your car? I don’t know about you, but I’m always a little nervous, reading and rereading the instructions on what to connect to what and when because of a fear of an explosion. It Still Runs says, “A battery can explode when the cables are hooked up backwards. Anyone standing near the battery when it explodes could be seriously injured. Battery explosions can cause burns, permanent disfiguration and blindness.”

Most of us have been standing near people who have exploded from lack of proper recharging, so it seems that charging our personal battery is no less important to be sure we go about it in the right way.

What is causing your battery to be drained of energy?

  • · Eating poorly
  • · Sleeping poorly
  • · Sitting too much
  • · Too much screen time
  • · Allowing other people to drive your life
  • · Spending too much or too little time alone

Where do we begin to recharge, then, considering just these areas?

Look at what you eat. Are you making time to shop for and cook healthy choices? Not everyone is a gourmet cook, but everyone needs to feed their body nutrient-rich foods. Don’t overthink this. Plan ahead so when you are hungry, you have healthier choices. Stop following fad diets that will often leave a person feeling tired, hungry, and depleted.

Look at how you sleep. Are you staying up late to watch one more movie or play one more game and then having to get up early to go to your job? Lack of sleep causes car accidents, mistakes at work and generally bad moods in people. Treasure your sleep enough to make a plan that works for your sleep needs, from sleeping in a dark room without electronics stimulating your brain to lowering the temperature and going to bed at a more regular time.

Get out of that chair. It’s easy to get comfy in your recliner or the chair at your desk, but humans were made for movement, not sedentary lifestyles. Create opportunities to take breaks and stretch your muscles during the day. The longer we sit, the more tired we become.

How long have you been sitting in front of that screen? Whether the physical effects of being glued to a television, phone, or computer screen, or the correlation to a sedentary lifestyle, screen time is a real energy drain. A partner with too much time in a chair, too much time in front of a screen can be offset with regular breaks to look away and other breaks to go outside, look at nature, and breathe in fresh air. Technology is wonderful and often fun, but our bodies that were made to move also benefit in numerous ways from a trip around the block or on a trail.

Whose life is it anyway? Plenty of people thrive on their ability to control other people’s lives, but that isn’t healthy for either party. For many of us, however, it isn’t a matter of other people trying to control us as much as it is our own need to please others — from worrying about what people will think or say about us to letting ourselves believe that being on every committee somehow makes us a more valuable person. Drive your own life by letting your opinion of yourself be the one that matters to you.

Be social, be a loner. Humans are social creatures, but that doesn’t mean we want or need to be surrounded by other people all the time. Take time to enjoy doing some things on your own. And remember the opposite need is equally important. Don’t isolate and alienate others. Create opportunities for relationships.

Whether it is the battery in a camera, in a car or within ourselves, it’s pretty clear that being intentional is the very best way to take good care of what we have. Regular maintenance and a little education on how things work will help us avoid the dreaded “Battery Exhausted” message.

Why not make the effort now to spend the last weeks of 2020 with batteries free of the worry of being exhausted?

Susan Black Steen is a writer and photographer, a native Tennessean and a graduate of Austin Peay State University. With a firm belief that words matter, she writes and speaks to bring joy, comfort and understanding into each life. Always, she writes from her heart in hopes of speaking to the hearts of others.

Recommended for you