Do You Have Energy Vampires in Your Life?
We love this evocative name for people who can suck the life out of you.
Because it’s a new year, there are lots of articles lending an abundance of advice for inspiration, do-overs, assessments, and doing-better.
Even if you don’t make New Year’s resolutions (#guilty)...it’s hard to totally ignore the plethora of advice.
One particular article that caught our eye was a recent piece in The New York Times. which was Day 4 of their 6-day “Energy Challenge.” The idea behind it: We all have things that sap us, as well as things that invigorate us, and it is these things that have the power to make us sad, agitated or depressed OR energized, happy and fulfilled.
It’s good to take stock of what these things are; after all, without knowing your triggers, it’s tough to feel in control of your life and your destiny. These things affect more than friendship: they’re also about eating nutritious snacks and meals, getting enough movement in your life, knowing when it’s time to take a break to recharge (and allowing yourself the break), and engaging in fun and inspiring hobbies.
Good friends (you know who they are) are one of life’s pleasures and blessings. But bad friends —-those who are needy, unsupportive, unreliable, selfish, one-sided, competitive, judgmental, jealous or stubborn—those are the ones who sap your energy. The Times article by Jancee Dunn calls them “energy vampires.”
Just as good friends have the power to contribute to your overall health and enrich your life by reducing stress, encouraging positive behavior, and buffering us from the negative effects of loneliness, “vampire friends” can hurt your health. Stressful friendships, found a UCLA study, can lead to increased inflammation throughout your body, which can, over time, lead to chronic ills like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
What to do with a hungry, thirsty vampire? You may feel that the friendship is not worth the trouble, and that’s okay. Not all friendships, even good ones, last forever.
Some draining relationships are hard to give up but there are strategies you can use to make them more tolerable. Here are a few suggestions:
Think about your friend’s positive attributes and what attracted you to them.
Cut back on the amount of time you spend together. See them in small doses.
Spend time in a more casual way, or rearrange your friendship so that you have less one-on-one time.
Try altering your expectations, recognizing that no one is perfect.
Consider a time-out. Sometimes breathing room can reinvigorate a withering friendship.
Be clear about your limits.
January is a great time to assess your friendships and take steps to make them life-affirming and more mutually satisfying.
It’s prudent to be aware of friends who drain you of energy and alter those relationships.