I was in my 20s when I figured out how to regulate my energy. I'd taken a job as a reporter and was working hundred-hour weeks, trying to be a team player. It was only after I became depleted that I realized I had only a certain amount of energy—and I needed to conserve and restore it. I understood that I had to keep giving back to myself, to refill my tank.
Now when I begin to feel exhausted, I pull back. If I'm at work and people are lined up at my desk with one request after another, I literally go sit in my closet and refuel. And I always give myself Sundays as a spiritual base of renewal—a day when I do absolutely nothing. I sit in my jammies or take a walk, and I allow myself time to BE—capital B-E—with myself. When I don't, I absolutely become stressed, irritable, anxiety-prone, and not the person I want to be in the world.
The way you eat makes a difference in terms of sustainability, which is why I avoid sugar—I don't want a high followed by a fall. I don't do energy bars or caffeine. I've learned to listen to my body. I know I'll be hungry at ten o'clock every morning, about the time I finish taping my first of two shows. At four in the afternoon, I'm ravenous. "Must be ten of four," I'll announce during a meeting, "because I could eat this cushion." That's when I have my biggest meal of the day—usually a protein and some kind of fruit or vegetable.
But feeding yourself is more than food. I believe we're all connected to each other's energy fields—whenever you walk into a roomful of people, your energy is either restored or taken away from you. If I'm around someone who saps me, I have to put up a barrier—a nonphysical wall that keeps that person's negative vibes away. I also have a couple of energy idols—people whose energy amazes me. Diane Sawyer is one. I don't know what I would do if had to get up at three or four in the morning. And there's nobody like Tina Turner. How does she do that? And how does she do that in Manolo Blahniks?
Energy is the essence of life. Every day you decide how you're going to use it by knowing what you want and what it takes to reach that goal, and by maintaining focus. That means asking yourself, Is what I'm doing part of my overall plan—and can I release the energy I'll need?
What Oprah Knows for Sure
From the July 2003 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
We Hear You!