I often wonder about capacity – my own and that of others. Will I be able to manage the physical and emotional demands being asked of me throughout my day? Where do I begin?

As autonomous individuals, we are required to make choices. We do so daily. Even choosing not to come to a decision is a choice in and of itself; inaction comes with its own set of benefits and consequences. Some of our choices come easily to us, and we do not tend to give them too much thought. Others weigh more heavily on us and require us to give more of ourselves to the decision-making process. Every choice we make is emotional.

In therapy, one is often encouraged to think about capacity as a finite resource. Often, clients are taught to conceptualize capacity as a battery that will deplete itself throughout the day. If every choice I make is emotional, I need to be aware of the implications. The more I expend my resources throughout the day, the less I have left to work with. By increasing my self-awareness, I can find ways to allocate my daily battery so that I have the capacity to show up in the ways that matter most to me. 

  1. Start with a check-in

It can be helpful to gauge my battery life first thing in the morning to determine my capacity meter for the day. This can allow me to lean into self-compassion and place realistic expectations of myself.

Example: After an adequate night’s sleep, a good amount of physical activity throughout the week, and sufficient nutrition and socialization, I am waking up with 100% battery.

  1. Prioritize by your values

Often, our days are full of non-negotiable tasks as well as personal responsibilities. If everything is important, nothing is important. Therefore, I need to know what is important to me. Asking myself what I value most can help me determine how much of my battery I am going to need to save for the things that matter most to me. Without doing so, I may deplete my battery on tasks that drain my battery, leaving me with less capacity to get through my day.

Example: As I am working on a report for a client, I receive a text message that requires my input on an upcoming family trip. I value work and I value family. I understand that making the decision regarding the family trip is one that will weigh on me, and one that will deplete more of my battery than I am currently willing to give. I can set a boundary by communicating that I will require some time to process the trip and I will not be responding until the following day. This allows me to hold on to more of my resources for the day, and allows me to allocate them accordingly.

  1. Allocate accordingly 

If I know what I value, I can choose to allocate my battery accordingly. I do not attribute the same weight to every decision that I make. As well, the more choices I make throughout the day, the more I deplete my battery. By increasing my awareness of this, I can save more of my attention for the choices that tend to be more emotional for me.

Example: I can choose to schedule the tasks that demand more of me earlier on in the day, or I can arrange to take care of myself in ways that will help my battery ‘stay charged’. 

We all have the capacity to choose. I encourage you to lean into curiosity regarding some of the choices that you have been making lately, and whether they are serving you in the ways that you have intended for them to. As always, the choice is yours.

Oksana Halkowicz, M.Psy works under the clinical supervision of Dr. Ashwin Mehra, C.Psych and provides psychological services to children, adolescents, and adults experiencing a wide host of problems related to mood, anxiety, depression, and interpersonal relationships. She works from a psychodynamic approach and integrates therapeutic techniques from dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), cognitive behavoral therapy (CBT), and emotion-focused therapy (EFT).