Find Your Bandwidth Leaks
Burned out. At capacity. Over threshold.
Many recent articles describe an epidemic of people feeling drained. Despite glimpses of hope and positivity (I feel them, don’t you?!) many people feel utterly depleted.
These articles often offer tips on how to replenish your energy (self care! self compassion! self awareness!) as well as making suggestions of how to make changes in your home/work/relationships. I read all of these articles. I am a self-help nerd.
But there’s at least one piece missing…to illuminate, here’s a little story.
Once upon a time, it was Thanksgiving vacation and we had just arrived at our destination after a challenging journey. Our hosts had just moved, so our sleeping accommodation was an air mattress in the home office. I remember getting into bed, exhausted, only to wake up still on the air mattress…but on the floor. Apparently, the air mattress had a slow leak.
This is what bandwidth leaks can do.* You’re often unaware that they’re there but slowly, over time, you end up on the metaphorical floor.
We are not talking about gaping holes! Bandwidth leaks are insidious and can be hard to spot but will wear you down just as much as the obvious energy drains in your life.
They can take different forms: tasks that never quite seem to get wrapped up. Things you don’t want to forget to do but aren’t sure where to take note. Topics that get discussed ad infinitum but not resolved. A conversation you need to have but keep putting off. All of these open loops passively sap your energy.
Start to find the leaks by noticing what’s going on in the background of your mind: what’s the source of that low hum of stress or irritation?
As you find them, name them—in a list, to a friend, in a brain dump. Some of the leaks may not be yours to take on (see “(other) Smart People” below). Others may be actionable (see “Try it!” below). Find your bandwidth leaks and maybe plug some of them before you, too, end up on the floor!
*Bandwidth in this context is shorthand for “capacity,” whether physical, mental, or emotional. Apparently “bandwidth leak” is also a thing that has to do with the internet; I am in no position to help you address those types of issues.
Is it actionable?
(other) Smart People
“‘Human Giver Syndrome’ is the contagious false belief that you have a moral obligation to give every drop of your humanity—your time, attention, energy, love, even your body—in support of others, no matter the cost to you.”
—Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski, Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
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