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Karen Maleck-Whiteley: Unplug and recharge during energy brownouts

Live Well Stress Less

Posted: August 6, 2009 9:52 p.m.
Updated: August 7, 2009 4:30 a.m.
Recently when I got home, we were experiencing a brownout in my neighborhood. If you’ve never had one, it is a weird experience.

Instead of the power going fully out, things just dim or slow down as they try to keep running on a lowered amount of power.

For some electrical appliances, running on the diminished flow of electricity is actually harmful to the motors.

I unplugged the refrigerator in the kitchen, but forgot the one in the garage. Now it seems like it is on, but everything has defrosted and there is no cold air coming out. Obviously some important part burned out. This same thing can happen to people, too.

Have you ever felt like you are having your own personal energy brownout? You just feel out of sorts, slow, or like you don’t have your usual energy and power. You may be trying to keep going at full speed on your own diminished flow of energy, and find that you get tired faster, have trouble focusing and doing things that are usually easy for you. You might be pushing past your fatigue with caffeine and sugar.

Sometimes we experience this because we really have something physically going on that we need to attend to, and it’s always good to check in with your doctor to handle anything that needs to be addressed. Many times we are simply operating in a state of stress and ignoring signals we should be listening to.

Sometimes we even become addicted to the feeling of the adrenaline that some stressful situations give us, and this causes us to override the warning feelings and symptoms we have.

In extreme cases, we can experience very real health issues, including adrenal burnout, high blood-pressure, depression and more.

The answer to this is simple. Just like the appliance that is being damaged by continuing to operate with less than optimal power, we need to unplug, too.

We need to recognize when we are feeling our brownouts and address them before they become blackouts — before the body breaks down and makes us take a rest by causing a true illness.

When we pay attention to how we are feeling physically, we can notice when we are having an overload or an energy brownout.

So take a few moments now to check in on your energy level. How is it right now? Where has it been the past week? Month? Year?

If you notice you are getting closer to a brownout or, got forbid, a blackout, take some action today.

You can unplug and recharge your batteries in many ways. You probably already know what helps you get your energy back to top flow, and if you are not doing whatever that is, start today.

If you need some ideas, here are many things you can do:

Big Ideas — these take more time, but give you great benefits:

Take your vacation — really (away from all your electronic devices.)

Get enough sleep for one week straight.

Take a class to learn something fun — ballroom dancing, oil painting, cooking — there are many offered by College of the Canyons and the city of Santa Clarita.

Get out into nature at least once a month, or go somewhere else beautiful or inspiring that you like (an art gallery, a music concert, etc.)

Start going to church again, or develop a different sort of spiritual practice.

Exercise regularly (run, walk, take yoga, spin class, boot camp.)

Find a good therapist.

Take a break from news and TV for a week.

Turn off your phone and computer for a day.

Schedule a weekly or monthly outing time with a friend.
Smaller Ideas — incorporate some of these into your daily and weekly routines:

Breathe deeply 10 times in a row — do this several times throughout your day. Attach this practice to something you do often — putting your hands on the steering wheel, hanging up the phone, walking through your office door.

Actually take your breaks at work.

Put 30 minutes of blank space in your calendar every day. Use it just for yourself. Get organized, daydream, doodle.

Call a friend to talk — studies have shown that this reduces stress for women.

Do something that feels good, even if it is small — schedule a massage, facial, nails, take a bath, read a book not related to your job.

Sit in the sun for 10 minutes a day (with lots of sunscreen!). This is especially beneficial for people who are indoors from dawn to dusk, and in the winter when the lack of light can affect our energy levels.

Do a crossword puzzle or a sudoku. Exercise your mind with something different than work or paying the bills. Better yet, play a game with friends or family.

Spend time with your pet daily: play, walk, sit quietly together.

Get (and give) a hug every day.

If we take care of ourselves daily, weekly and monthly, we can increase our energy stores, prevent the break down or our systems, and feel like we are stressing less and living well each and every day.  

Karen Maleck-Whiteley is a certified hypnotherapist, coach, speaker and author. She is also the co-owner of Balance Point Spa in Canyon Country. For help with making your own personal stress-reduction plan, contact (661) 252-0650, or e-mail to out more by visiting,,, or www.Five4Me/


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