How to Spot an Energy Vampire

definition of an energy vampire: a person who sucks the emotional, physical, and/or spiritual energy from another person.

 

Maryanne Walker, LPC Kingwood Counselor

 

So who are these energy vampires? They are friends, co-workers, even family, that leave us feeling depleted of energy.  These are the people who always have a lot of time to talk about their problems, but, oddly enough, don’t have a minute to spare when it comes to listening to our issues.  And boy, do these suckers usually have a lot of problems!

Most, if not all, of us have come in contact with at least one energy vampire in our lives.  For those of you who can spot one a mile away and avoid them like the plague, my hat goes off to you.  For the rest of us, I’ve categorized energy vampires so you can spot one more easily and avoid falling prey to their drama.

1. Reality Show Vampires

These people live lives that could easily be material for a reality show.  Not only do they have drama in their lives, but they like that they have drama.  They cravedrama.  For them, chaos is normalcy. These energy suckers are usually very impulsive and live their lives by the motto “act now, think later.”  They will always jump from one controversy to another.  If you know one of these people…run. Quickly!

2. Lifetime Movie Vampires

You know all those cheesy, (I-can’t-believe-this-is-) based-on-a-real-story movies you see on Lifetime?  If you know someone whose life situations could be the actual basis for one of these movies, you’re probably looking at an energy vampire.  I’m not saying weird things don’t happen to people.  But weird things usually always happen to energy vampires and they’re going to tell you all about it.

3. Dr. Phil Vampires

These energy vampires have problems that could easily land them on Dr. Phil, and their episodes could probably be two-parters. These people will always talk about their problems as if they want to find solutions, but they really don’t.  What they want to do is vent.  And vent…and then vent some more.  These are often the people who ask you for advice, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’ll take it.  They just want to keep the conversation focused on them.

4. Mean Girls Vampires

Now these are your really nasty vampires.  They are the family and friends you have that suck the life out of you through the use of covert invalidation.  In fact, another word for them is “invalidator.” They’re rude, but sneaky about it.  These are the people who will tell you your house would be a perfect choice to be on one of those home shows…the ones where someone comes in and organizes all your junk.  Or, they’ll tell you how great you look…for someone your size.  They suck your energy by making you feel really bad, but they do so in a way that, if you call them out, you’re the one who looks like a jerk (while they act wounded when you confront them).

Sometimes people don’t show their true colors until after they’ve sunk their teeth in real good.  However, there are usually some early warning signs to look for, such as:

  • You feel stressed or outright bad after talking with this person.

  • You do 90% of the listening.

  • This person rarely asks you about you, and only then does so in a disinterested fashion.

  • You don’t feel comfortable talking about yourself with this person.

  • You are this person’s crisis counselor and the person’s crisis starts to seem never-ending.

  • This person seems to get along with few people and has multiple falling-outs with others.

For these relationships, good boundaries are the key.

When you do spot an energy vampire, it’s really important to not let them close enough to suck you dry.  If it’s friends or acquaintances, you often have the option of not getting into a relationship with that person or at least of ending it.  If it’s family or even co-workers, it can be a bit trickier.  For these relationships, good boundaries are the key.  Maintain these relationships at arms’ length, without getting close enough for these people to latch onto you and drain you dry.

Remember that healthy relationships are give-and-take.  In any friendship, sometimes one person will need to talk more than the other, but if you find over a period of time that you’re dealing with someone who can only take (and never give), it’s time to make yourself a priority and walk away.

Do you have an energy vampire in your life?  I would love to hear how you deal with those pesky suckers.

 

Stress Free Mornings: 5 Day Changing Tips

Stress free mornings are kind of do-or-die in my house.  If I don’t have a stress free morning, I’m pretty much done for the day.  Like stick a fork in me, I’m done type of day.  

Stress free mornings look different for different people.  There are the usual tips on how to have stress free mornings, like: plan the night before for your day, wake up earlier, etc.
 
What I want to focus on are some less common tips for creating stress free mornings that will help to relax you and get you ready for the day.
 

Maryanne Walker, LPC Kingwood Counselor

 
  • Wake Up to Something Nice

I use my cell phone as my alarm clock so I can choose the sound I wake up to.  I’m a big Pink fan so it made sense to me to have one of her songs be my morning alarm. But after just three morning of waking up to Who Knew, I knew I needed to find a different song.
 

If you’re like me and use your phone as your alarm clock, search for a ringtone or song that doesn’t make you feel your ears have been physically assaulted first thing in the morning.  There is a sound for everyone, including the folks who want to wake up to a car alarm or a baby laughing hysterically.  

There are also some inexpensive apps like Progressive Alarm Clock that offer you a gentle way to wake up, which I highly recommend.  I personally settled on a ringtone composed of harps and soft piano music. The new sound is much less abusive to my eardrums and let’s me slowly wake up.  

 
  • Set an Intention 

This is something I’ve recently added to my own morning routine after reading a blog post on the Carly Marie Project Heal blog that described the importance of morning intentions.  The post goes into more detail than I will but the idea with a morning intention is to set a course for the day.

Before I get out of bed each morning, I try to think of three things I’m grateful for in addition to a daily intention. Some days my intention might be to be in the moment as much as possible. Other days I make the intention of trying to notice all the beautiful things in my life.  This may sound “new agey,” but give it a try even if that’s not usually your thing.  The impact can be amazing.

 
  • Don’t Forget Your Sense of Taste

I am not a big daytime coffee drinker, but I usually have 1-2 cups every morning.  What I love about drinking coffee are the different creamers available.  I try out different flavors to find what I like and then keep those creamers on hand.  

As strange as it may sound, having a warm, delicious cup of coffee every morning is something I look forward to and it makes getting out of bed a little less painful.  What’s something that you would look forward to?  Maybe it’s coffee, a flavorful cup of tea, a warm scone, or a special breakfast.   Find something you savor and make time to enjoy that every morning.
 
  • Smell Something Good

Just like satisfying your senses of taste and sound, your sense of smell can do wonders for your morning demeanor.  Candles or diffuses are great options, as are incense sticks.  I enjoy burning an incense stick each morning when I meditate and pray.  The scents vary and you can choose what appeals to your sense of smell.  It’s tough for me not to have stress free mornings when I smell vanilla or lavender!

 
  • Stretch Your Body

This is probably my favorite stress free morning ritual.  Incorporating some gentle stretching in your morning routine can energize you and provide you with a greater sense of calm as you go through your day. How you stretch can be up to you.  I’m a fan of yoga so for me I enjoy doing just a few minutes of yoga stretches each morning.  

Below is a video I found that guides you through some very gentle, easy stretches that can even be done in bed!  Even better, the instructor, Juliana Semenova, talks about making an intention for the day, a great way for you to incorporate stretching and intentions all in 5 minutes.
 
 

With these 5 stress free morning tips, you’re now armed with some new ideas for creating a peaceful morning ritual.  Try all five of these ideas or just a few.  Find out what works for you. Incorporating just one new step in your stress free mornings routine can make a huge impact on your mindset for the day.  

 
What does your stress free morning ritual consist of?  I would love to hear what your morning looks like and what you’ve found that works for you.

Are You on Social Media Overload?

Confession: I love social media.  Like, LOVE social media.  
 
And apparently I’m not alone.  According to Facebook stats, its site has over one billion daily active users. Instagram claims to have 300 million users and Pinterest has over 100 million.
  
The truth is that, like a lot of other people who may not like to admit it, I love looking at pictures of baby cats or reading how someone I haven’t seen since 1986 went to Disney World.

Maryanne Walker, LPC Kingwood Counselor

 
What I don’t love is a fact I’ve recently discovered about myself.  As my time on social media goes up, so does my stress. And if that weren’t bad enough, my self care routine tends to get out of whack during these social media binges, resulting in less allotted time for the things that keep me balanced (and sane).
 
So how do you know when social media is okay, and when you’ve overdosed? Following are some of the symptoms or clues that social media overload has hit you:
 
1. Poor sleep
 
A couple of nights ago, I was busy going through my Twitter feed before I went to sleep.  I ended up going to sleep an hour later than I usually do because I had a lot of interesting tweets to read.  When I did finally go to bed, I kept thinking about one of the articles I had read before I finally fell into a fitful sleep.  The next morning I woke up feeling like I had a hangover, minus the drinking and any real fun the night before. 
 
Sleep can definitely be adversely affected by too much social media time.  If you find your sleep is frequently interrupted or you’re waking up feeling exhausted, pay attention to how much time you’re spending online.
 
2. The Green-Eyed Monster Moves In With You
 
When I first got onto Facebook my husband and I were in that stage of raising young children and having very little time for just us.  Our relationship was strong, or at least I thought it was, until I went onto Facebook.  
 
That was where I could always find one of my “friends” going on about how wonderful his or her spouse was, surprise vacations this wonderful spouse had planned, or spur-of-the-moment nights out, all again planned by said wonderful spouse.  As much as I tried to be happy for this friend (usually someone I hadn’t seen since high school), I soon became resentful that my husband wasn’t gushing, in a very public forum, about the wonders of me, or whisking me off to some romantic getaway.  
 
Needless to say, I’ve since gotten off of Facebook and realized that too much bragging on the site just might be the equivalent of a very short man driving a very large truck.  But it took me a long time and much agonizing to get to this point.  
 
If you experience a lot of bad feelings when using social media, take that as a warning that social media might be getting a little unhealthy for you.
 
3. “I just have to check one thing.”
 
Last week I was making dinner and decided I would quickly peruse one of my social media sites while I was baking some chicken.  An hour and a half later I was still looking at exotic tropical vacation pictures on Instagram as my chicken dried up to a husk in the oven as my kids looked at me like they hadn’t eaten in days. 
 
If you find that there are large gaps in your life where you’re on social media, it might be time to take note.  Put a timer on so you only end up spending the time you want to online.  This makes your time online an intentional activity and something you can control instead of it controlling you.
 
Whether you’re promoting your business, connecting with others, or simply looking at videos of puppies and babies, social media can be a great tool to use.  The trick, like most things in life, is to find that balance between the act of truly connecting as opposed to just mindless surfing.  Making self care a priority will help you to be very mindful of your time online and guide you in knowing when enough is really enough.
 
Comments?  Thoughts?  Ideas?  I would love to hear what you have to say about self care and social media.