Saying NO to Work and Patients Who Drain Your Energy

by Dr. Christina Bjorndal ND | Follow on Twitter

Eliminating energy robbers can be the most difficult things to do, especially if it’s a patient relationship.

EVERYONE HAS POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE INFLUENCES in their lives. The important thing is to recognize which people, events or situations fill you up and which ones deplete you. By finding out what is stressful for you, changes can be made in the right direction towards a more healthful life.

Personal Relationships

A helpful exercise is to take a piece of paper and divide it into two columns. In the first column, list “Energy Givers” (gives me energy, happiness, health), and in the second column, list “Energy Robbers” (drains my energy and health).

Energy Givers Energy Robbers
1 1
2 2
3 3
4 4
5 5

There may be relationships, time commitments, people, work situations and/or eating patterns that go in one or both columns, depending on the circumstance or expectations attached to them.

For example, you may love a volunteer commitment (Energy Giver) but not the time associated with it (Energy Robber).

By doing this exercise, you can find out who and what gives you energy or drains you. Complete the above exercise by identifying the top 5 in each column (robbers and givers) for the following topics:

  • People
  • Food or beverages (keep in mind the immediate and later effects of their consumption)
  • Situations and daily event
  • Commitments

In the “Energy Robbers” columns, identify why the top 5 are so tough and how they are negatively affecting your health, though you may not be immediately conscious of it. They can be bad foods, commitments, a strong smell, memory or even a person. See how these prevent you from living a healthy life.

For example, an energy robber could be a friend or family member that leaves you feeling tired or upset:

  • If you talk to this friend everyday, try minimizing your exposure to this person by talking three times a week or even just once a week.
  • If this is someone with whom you are very involved, you could make a signal to that person to let him or her know you feel your energy draining.
  • If you do not have open communication with this person (a key energy-draining sign), you must do what you can on your own and perhaps rethink this relationship.

Awareness of how someone or something makes you feel is the first important step towards creating and protecting your energy.

Choose the negative relationship that most affects you and make a commitment to minimize this as much as possible from your life. Work out a plan to do this. Once this item is eliminated, move on to the next and repeat the exercise.

Look at your “Energy Givers” list and devise a way to do these things more frequently in your life and spend more time with these people. Transition from a life with things that render you powerless to one that makes you feel empowered, fulfilled and energized. Regularly build energy-giving time into every day even if you don’t feel depleted.

When you’re stuck in a difficult environment, you have 3 choices to make it a more positive one:

  1. Change the situation (ie. eliminate the loud noise – telling people to be quiet),
  2. Change yourself while in the situation (ie. wear earplugs with loud noise) or
  3. Leave the situation (ie. leave the area of the noise)

Work Relationships

With work conditions and patient visits, choose the focus of your energy for specific periods during the day and try not to let yourself be distracted or drained from side tasks. For instance, try only phoning back messages at two time intervals in the day instead of being constantly interrupted on the phone.

Use chunks of time now to create manuals and handouts for your staff and receptionists to use for daily guidance with frequent questions or to complete daily tasks. It is helpful to have frequently asked questions (FAQs) on your website so that you can refer inquiries there.

Build in re-energizing habits between visits and at the end of a long day of seeing patients. Make use of a five-minute breathing exercise, meditation, mindful eating or hand washing for a refreshing cleanse.

Create boundaries between work and home life by designating a separate office space for work, not researching past 7pm or on weekends, and not using electronics at dinner or after dinner.

There are times when it is appropriate to say no. Some patients may be energy robbers and drain you more than you are able to help them. Consider yourself in the relationship but manage the situation so that the priority remains the patient’s well-being. Ensure you arrange for the patient to get continued care by referring to other skilled practitioners.

Working towards a healthy energy balance comes from taking action to build and protect your energy stores in your personal life and at work. Grow your awareness of the things and people that give you energy and those that rob you of it and use it to help make decisions for a positive-energy life.

About the Author
Dr. Christina Bjorndal ND

Dr. Chris Bjorndal graduated from the UBC Faculty of Commerce in 1990 with honours and as class Valedictorian. She completed her Doctorate in naturopathic medicine from CCNM in 2005. She is one of the only licensed NDs in Canada with an expertise in treating mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, OCD and schizoaffective disorders. Having overcome many challenges in the sphere of mental health, she is especially exceptional at motivating people to overcome barriers in life and encourages them to achieve their full potential. She is currently completing a book on mental health.