How do you know when you are running on empty? How does it show up for you? Are you someone who feels exhausted, lethargic, unable to motivate yourself? Does your body react physically? Perhaps you go down with a stinking cold or worse?

I think it’s fair to say that many of us keep going even when we notice the tell-tale signs that are warning us that we are flagging, heading towards burnout.

Why do we all run on empty?

Many reasons. We feel we have to keep going. We don’t feel that there is anyone else to pick up the slack. Some of us feel that by keeping going we work our way through it and will eventually come out the other side but perhaps we need to monitor our energy more closely.

How much energy do you have?

If you were to visualise that symbol on our mobile phone that shows how much battery your phone has left and applied that to yourself right now, where would it show?

Are you half full? Are you nearly empty? Are you full to the brim?


Sometimes actually visualising how we feel by using an image like the battery symbol, makes it easier to acknowledge what’s going on for us right now. Another good one is a car fuel gauge – are you running on the reserve tank?

If your battery is nearly empty, how does that make you feel? What would you do if it were your phone? You’d plug it in and recharge it so that it works properly. Do you need re-charging?

Using the visualisation

When I am feeling a bit run down, a bit weary, I use this visualisation to work out how much energy I am running on and then I can decide where I put the energy that I do have. You can also picture a fuel gage on a car.

  • Where is my energy level now?
  • Does this top up my energy levels/refuel my tank? Or does it deplete my energy further?
  • If the task in question will deplete my energy further, I can then decide whether that task can wait for another day.
  • If it’s something that I’d usually love to do BUT will deplete my energy level, I can also decide that today I can instead practice some self-care and re-schedule.
Your energy is precious – be careful who you give it to.

My energy is precious and the only person that can protect it is me, so deciding where and when I put it – even with who I put it – helps me to keep balanced and not burn out. Better to see when the levels are getting low and do something about it than keep going and going until I fall over.