6 Signs You're Losing Your Edge — And The One Key Way To Get It Back

How to leverage the science and art of 'you' to get the most from your performance.

Woman tilting sunglasses with a attitude, needing personal time for self care, reflection HbrH | Canva

Unless your cells have what they need for proper function — nutrients, water, rest, sleep, exercise, play, and connection — some part of your system suffers. You need physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy to be your best you.

When you're stressed out, self-care renews these energies and provides the fuel for effective and resilient leadership, energized and wise parenting, and meaningful adult relationships. In other words, you lose your edge at work, as a leader, as a parent and even as a partner. 


Unfortunately, our culture has taught us — even rewarded us — for delaying and ignoring the body's needs in the pursuit of "success". In the process, we learned to disconnect the "check engine" lights that signal even the most basic self-care needs.

Heck, long before the obvious growling stomach, or pounding head, there are many subtle signs that your brain or body is requesting some fuel of some sort to keep up job performance. Awareness of these lets you make on-the-fly and long-term adjustments that will help you avoid a lot of stress!

RELATED: The Scary Truth About What Happens To Your Body When You're Stressed


Six signs you're losing your edge — and the one key way to get it back

1. You are making more mistakes

What are you thinking? Answer: You’re not! Unfortunately, without fuel, your frontal lobe fails its executive leadership job. And stress compounds this by taking away its blood flow. Misfiring brain cells are desperate for some version of energy. Get curious when you make mistakes. What do you need?

Frustrated worker throws papers in air, she is losing her edge BongkarnGraphic via Shutterstock

2. You get stuck in the weeds

Have trouble prioritizing or keeping the big picture in mind? Holding priorities and keeping perspectives are frontal lobe duties. In the middle of "hangry" or emotionally or mentally spent, you really can’t effectively weigh choices or see possibilities.


Use "stuck" as a cue to do an energy check-in. Take a deep breath, move, look out the window, walk outside, or call a friend. What do you need to reboot your frontal lobe?

3. You feel kind of "judge-y"

Really? Do you want to be that person? You know you are more critical, and more negative when something in you is "off". And you know judging never actually leaves you feeling better.

I recently left a social gathering thinking way less than compassionate thoughts. My introverted coping skills had maxed out that week, sending my brain into the negative zone. I needed alone time to refuel.

Your brain has a negative bias to protect you, but your frontal lobe puts the brakes on that negativity to support empathy and positivity. Wear out your brakes and judging is second nature.


Let negativity be your indicator light. Again, check in. What do you need to get back your happier outlook?

@emilieleyes.hypnosis Replying to @v4444 why its easier to focus on negative experiences more than positive ones(and how to counteract it) To learn more about the ways in which you can shift your brains bias towards taking in the good, make sure to check out my six week masterclass called ✨hypnotic empowerment✨, where you will learn mental practices to change your brains response to stress, increase happiness, and confidence, and feel like you’re capable of pursuing your goals. The next session will be from June 3 to July 8, and you can find all the info at my ⛓️ #braintraining #psychology #psychologyfacts #mindset #mindsetshift #psychologytricks #selfcare #anxietyrelief #emilieleyes #rewireyourbrain #neuroplasticity #selfimprovement #positivity ♬ original sound - Emilie Leyes • Hypnosis

RELATED: Why Good Things Are Sometimes As Stressful As Bad Ones

4. Your inner critic is very loud

Would you talk to your best friend that way? This is just you getting "judge-y" and negative with yourself! The brakes are off and the go-to voice that has motivated you for years takes over.


Thank the voice for alerting you that you need something and then figuring out what it is.

5. Your language is more colorful

Need to pay for the quarter jar? You guessed it! This is another sign that your frontal lobe needs something. Irritability is the most common external sign of stress and is in cahoots with impatience and go-to colorful or negative language.

Pay the quarter and then get curious. What’s draining your patience and what do you need to get it back?

RELATED: Why ‘Mind Rest’ Is Essential For Your Brain’s Health — Plus, 10 Easy Ways To Recharge

6. Everything feels like a problem

"The problem with that is…"

Because self-awareness is also a frontal lobe function, it can take a while to realize that you are making mountains out of molehills or feeling like every step of the day requires too much effort. This is not your energized creative problem-solver mode! It is your barely hanging-on zone.


Think back over your week. Where are you on the slogging through problems to "piece of cake!" spectrum? What’s your story about your circumstances? Dig under that story to find what you need.


Did this last weekend and was shocked at what came up and how much this technique worked ❤️

♬ State Lines - Novo Amor

Some signs and symptoms of energy depletion are fairly universal, but you may also have your special indicators. The key is to build awareness and create habits for refueling. It doesn't have to be a major overhaul.

The #1 way to get your edge back? Fuel your body efficiently

Every tiny tweak you make in your day can add up to a happier, smarter, healthier you: 

  • Build your dashboard for physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual energy.
  • Create a habit of accountability to check in with your dashboard.
  • Have a strategy session with yourself to give self-care its proper place in your life…supporting your best you!

Move those subtle signs into the spotlight and use them to end your energy shortages. Model self-care as leadership. Teach your children to manage their energy. Support cultures of well-being. Leverage the science and art of you to live your best life!

RELATED: If You Really Want To Be Happy, Stop Telling Yourself (& Believing) These 5 Lies

Cynthia Ackrill leads stress and leadership workshops in many settings from coaching and leadership programs to women's conferences.