10 Habits that Will Steal Your Energy
Overworked and exhausted, millions of people wake up every day feeling tired even though the day hasn’t even yet begun. Failing to get enough sleep is an obvious one when it comes to habits that will steal your energy, but there are several other parts of your regular routine that could be sapping your energy every day.
Fatigue and lack of energy are such common complaints from people today that doctors and scientists have taken it upon themselves to conduct dozens of studies on the subject. While having a disease like cancer may rob you of your energy and give you no recourse to regain your energy, there are plenty of terrible habits you might have that are stealing your energy every day that you can quit. Simply placing yourself in a stressful situation day after day may make it almost impossible to get up in the morning.
The American Psychological Association reports that extreme stress levels are down in many Americans, but that around a fifth of all Americans report feeling extreme stress. One of the most burdensome effects of stress is an increase in fatigue and a lack of energy. However, engaging in a stressful lifestyle is just one of the energy-stealing habits you might possess.
From needless arguments to staying up all night, there are dozens of ways you could be draining your energy. If you’re sure you’re not suffering from a physical malady or an illness like anemia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and you’re still tired all the time, you might be guilty of one of the following terrible habits. You might even find yourself guilty of more than one of these terrible habits!
10You Don’t Exercise Often Enough
You might have a gym membership that costs you 50 bucks a month, but how often do you use it? If you find yourself skipping the gym, watching television instead of going out for walks, and letting your bicycle turn to rust with disuse, your lack of exercise could be making you tired. You might assume that feeling tired might mean you should hold off on exercise, but science actually suggests the opposite is true. A New York Times article on a University of Georgia study reveals that participants who engaged in exercise three times a week reported a significant increase in energy levels by the conclusion of the study. The volunteers in the group were placed into one of two groups where they would either engage in a low-intensity exercise like walking or a moderate-intensity exercise like walking briskly up a hill.
The people who participated in the study were mostly sedentary, and virtually everyone who engaged in exercise reported an increase in energy. One of the interesting findings of the study was that people didn’t need to engage in high-intensity exercise to reduce their fatigue. Simply taking a brisk walk a few times a week could help reduce fatigue. While scientists haven’t yet figured out the connection between a reduction in fatigue and exercise, the increase in activity could have a positive impact on the ability of a person to fall asleep. Not surprisingly, a better night’s rest would likely result in a reduction in feelings of tiredness, as well as fatigue.
9You’re Addicted to Technology
Billions of people around the planet spend their days with their faces buried in smartphones, staring at computer screens, or zoning out in front of the television. According to research conducted at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, the artificial light from televisions and computer screens can actually prevent deep, restful sleep. The scientists who created the study asked 4,100 adults between the ages of 20 and 24 to fill out a questionnaire about their technology habits. The researchers also interviewed several of the young adults who indicated they were “heavy” users of technology. After analyzing the data, the researchers found several disturbing problems that resulted from the frequent use of cell phones, computers, and late-night addictions to technology.
For example, study participants who used cell phones often were more likely to experience sleep disorders. Study respondents who reported near constant accessibility via cell phones even showed an increased risk of mental health issues. Participants who reported frequent, late-night use of computers showed an increased rate of symptoms associated with stress and depression. Although the study showed a myriad of symptoms associated with the heavy use of technology, the scientists were unable to figure out the cause for the link between using smartphones and computers in excess and disturbed sleep. If you go to bed with your smartphone a few inches from your face, you might want to rethink your connection to technology. Using technology frequently and late into the night could be making it tougher for you to get to sleep and draining your energy with every text you send or YouTube video you watch.
8You Try to Achieve Perfection
Perfectionism may lead to fatigue, and one study suggests that attempting to achieve perfection could actually exacerbate conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. Scientists have seen that many patients who are diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) also exhibit signs of a perfectionist personality. The tendency of some individuals to engage in self-criticism may push those people to harmfully push through exhaustion to finish a task. Additionally, the study suggests that a perfectionist attitude could also cause a person to develop a fatigue-related syndrome because of “maladaptive perfectionism.” Although not everyone who engages in perfectionist tendencies will develop something like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the study does illuminate the harm in having that type of disruptive personality.
Reducing or eliminating the need to achieve perfection isn’t something that most people can achieve overnight, and many individuals who suffer from perfectionist tendencies must consider therapy, counseling, or professional intervention. Perfectionism can rob you of your ability to sit back and relax and enjoy the day. Rather than completing a task in a few minutes, perfectionism might keep you up all night and cause you to lose sleep. One of the quickest ways to lose energy is to fail to get enough sleep. Your perfectionist tendencies may cause you to miss out on important things like sleep, socialization, and relaxation. Waking up after just a few hours of rest and several hours spent in the pursuit of perfection can cause unrelenting fatigue, and this sustained behavior may even increase the likelihood you’ll catch a cold or get sick.
7You Don’t Take Care of Yourself
Taking good care of your mind and body requires balancing many tasks and responsibilities, and neglecting yourself may have deadly consequences, as well as rob you of your energy. If you’re a new mother, have recently experienced a traumatic event, or act as a caregiver to an elderly relative, you’re probably guilty of neglecting yourself in the pursuit of caring for others. Unfortunately, many of the people who focus too much on other people are the ones who have the most important responsibility to ensure their own health remains good. A mother who runs herself into the ground cannot care for her child. A caregiver who neglects himself can’t provide assistance to his charge. Feelings of stress, irritability, depression, and anxiety can begin to crush you as you spiral into exhaustion.
A study investigating self-care options for physicians and caregivers illuminates the problems and adverse patient outcomes that may result from a healthcare professional’s poor self-care. Although the study focuses on caregivers and health professionals, the solutions defined within the study may help people outside the healthcare industry. Self-care has become so important for caregivers offering palliative and hospice care that the Program Standards for Hospice and Palliative Medicine have been updated to include self-care. One of the simplest ways to prevent burnout, fatigue, and exhaustion is to remain self-aware about the condition of your mind and body. Creating a list of basic self-care responsibilities like getting enough sleep, eating the right foods, and exercising regularly can have a dramatic impact on personal health.
6You Worry All the Time
An in-depth article published by The Daily Mail in Britain suggests worrying places an extraordinary demand on your body, and this stress leads to fatigue. You might feel like worrying is something that will only tire your mind, but it actually causes several physical reactions in your body that will tire you out if you worry constantly. Not only can worrying increase your heart rate and lead to rapid breathing, but excessive worrying may even inspire your body to engage its “fight or flight” response with a dose of adrenaline. Unfortunately, the problem with this response is that your body doesn’t need to flee a predator or get away from danger. The hormones released by your body that are designed to help the situation only result in making you feel tired and weak.
In some circumstances, excessive and sustained stress can actually increase your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or stomach ulcer because of the significant impact on the body’s hormone-releasing glands. Worry can also lead to sustained body aches, tension headaches, and muscle weakness, which can make the resulting fatigue feel that much more severe. Some chronic worriers even experience alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation, as well as experience an increase in sickness and infection. Like other habits that can steal your energy, eliminating worry from your life isn’t exactly something you can do at the drop of a hat. You may need to work with a health professional or counselor. Adopting an active and healthy lifestyle may also reduce the amount of time you can spend worrying.
5You Surround Yourself in Drama
Some people thrive in hectic situations with emotionally charged arguments, hyperactive fights, and the general drama that may result from having friends or family with explosive personalities. However, it’s often the case that anyone who experiences drama feels a little more worn out after an argument, and fighting can also reduce how much sleep you get, according to a study shared by the Sunday Express. A lack of sleep may make you feel grumpier and more likely to argue with someone, which perpetuates the cycle of arguing, sleeplessness, stress, and fatigue. There are two schools of thought when it comes to eliminating the energy drain you might experience from drama-infused relationships and family connections. One theory suggests avoiding fighting and going to bed angry is better than losing sleep and arguing all night to finish the fight.
The other theory suggests finishing the argument and only going to sleep when the problem is resolved helps ensure restful sleep where you’re not angry, worried, or stressed. Beyond the need to work things out with a significant other, participating in fights or dramatics with friends and family might require a more striking solution. You may simply need to remove yourself from the situation. An article from The Huffington Post suggests participating in conflict can cause an “emotional hangover,” which may make it tough to meet new challenges as they arise. Sometimes, the only solution for keeping your strength intact is avoiding conflict, which may mean cutting ties with toxic personalities and people who drain your energy with drama.
4You Drink Too Much Caffeine
You probably know someone who drinks an entire pot of coffee every day. You might start your day off with a huge latte and drink more coffee from the office break room throughout the day. Although studies have repeatedly shown the benefits of coffee, as well as caffeine, too much may cause problems. Your morning latte might give you a boost to your mental agility and physical energy, but further cups may cause side effects like irritability, an upset stomach, restlessness, and insomnia. What happens to people who experience insomnia and feel nervous all the time? Their energy disappears, and they feel tired all the time. Consuming too much caffeine is one of the worst habits that will steal your energy because it’s so easy to increase your consumption over time without realizing how much you’re drinking.
According to information from the Mayo Clinic, healthy adults may consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine each day without getting to the point where the caffeine is doing more harm than good. That comes to around four cups of coffee, a couple of energy drinks, or 10 cans of caffeinated soda. Think about how much caffeine you consume each day. Do you greet the day with a cup of coffee and then get another at lunch? Do you make repeated trips to the coffee maker to brew up fresh batches? Are you drinking multiple energy drinks every day? If you’re consuming a lot of caffeine and you still feel tired, you might want to cut back and see if your energy returns.
3You Don’t Get Enough Vitamin D
Office dwellers, busy college students, and anyone who works the night shift may not get enough natural vitamin D, which is a vitamin that doctors often refer to as a natural energy booster. However, the benefit of vitamin D goes well beyond its energy-boosting properties. Not only is a vitamin D deficiency associated with an increase in a person’s risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, but it has also been associated with an increase in dementia in the elderly, asthma in children, and cancer. According to a study published in the North American Journal of Medical Sciences entitled “Correction of Low Vitamin D Improves Fatigue: Effect of Correction of Low Vitamin D in Fatigue Study,” low levels of vitamin D have been associated with fatigue in cancer patients.
Another study on vitamin D deficient adults found that patients who improved vitamin D levels experienced a reduction in fatigue and led the scientists to conclude that getting enough vitamin D could be at least partly responsible for improving energy levels. If your schedule makes getting natural sunlight each day an impossibility, you may wish to take a supplement as directed by your doctor or primary care physician. There are also several foods you can consume that feature vitamin D like tuna, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products. However, the easiest way to get enough vitamin D is to spend about 20 minutes in the sun each day. If you can’t find a full 20-minute chunk of time to catch some rays, you can try a few 10-minute segments throughout the day.
2You Never Go Outside
If you spend every day inside and rarely see the sun, your hermit-like existence might be contributing to a life of exhaustion. A professor at the University of Rochester shares that several studies have revealed a connection between a person’s energy levels and the amount of time they spend outside with nature. Not only do the studies show that spending time outside is essential for physical energy, but the outdoors can offer other benefits like improved vitality and resistance to illness. An article published in The New York Times suggests that the benefits gained from going outdoors are virtually universal. Almost everyone benefits from going outside. One of the interesting things shared in the article is the existence two types of attention.
One type of attention is called “directed” attention, which is the type of attention a person uses when they have to concentrate in a situation like school or work. The other type of attention is referred to as “involuntary” attention, and this type is what happens when a person responds involuntarily to something like a crying infant. The studies suggest that a person may experience fatigue when they engage their directed attention too often with big presentations at work or important tests at school. Encouraging the mind to engage in involuntary attention via spending time in nature may help the mind rest and reduce the fatigue that comes from working too much or having a crazy school schedule. Simply looking at a green view outside can have a positive impact, which means you don’t have to travel to the middle of nowhere for a hike to get your energy back.
1You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
It’s obvious that not getting enough sleep leads to tiredness and fatigue, and our busy modern lives make it difficult to dedicate enough hours each day to rest. According to statistics cited by Britain’s National Health Service, one in three people sleeps poorly. Not only is a good night’s rest important for a long life, but excellent sleep is also one of the most important factors in leading a life free of disease and illness. There are all sorts of reasons we don’t get enough sleep, and it often seems like there are even more harmful effects of failing to get enough sleep. For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, losing sleep may increase your chances of developing one of those conditions.
The oft-repeated recommendation that we get about eight hours of good sleep each night is a decent place to start, but not everyone needs eight hours, and some people actually fare best on more than eight hours. Some experimentation is usually the best way to figure out your optimal number of sleep hours. A simple method to figure out how much sleep you need is to go to bed when you get tired on a weekend, or any day where you don’t have to go into work the next day and go to sleep without setting the alarm. If you figure out how many hours of sleep you need each night and stick to that number, you may actually get to the point where you no longer even need an alarm clock to get up for work or school.
If you do a quick search on the internet, you’ll find dozens of articles promising to help you reclaim your energy with just a few simple steps, but the process is often a little more complex than just getting a few good nights of sleep. One bad habit may lead to the adoption of another, and you may find yourself engaging in a half-dozen habits all conspiring to steal your energy. For example, you might fight often with your spouse and experience sleepless nights because of the arguments. When you wake up tired in the morning, you drown yourself in coffee, and then you end up skipping your evening workout at the gym because you’re so exhausted.
In just a single day, you’ve engaged in four bad habits that will steal your energy if you engage in them long and often enough.
You might not be able to completely eliminate every bad habit that is currently stealing your energy, but it never hurts to try. If you find that your only vice is drinking too much coffee, you probably don’t need to completely give up the habit. You might try cutting back for a day to three cups instead of four to see how you feel. If you find you function fine on three cups, you might cut back to two at some point. However, if you find that some of your habits are chronic and unlikely to change, you may wish to take more impressive steps. If your worrying is giving you ulcers and wearing you out, talk to a medical professional about counseling or therapy. If you don’t get enough exercise, enlist the help of a friend who will help keep you on track.
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