Let's face it. If you are trying to accomplish anything in life, whether it is work, raising a family, or even having fun, you need to have energy. When we run into trouble in the form of bad moods or poor productivity, its usually because we are low on energy. Oddly, many of us willingly subject ourselves daily to factors that suck us dry.
Here is a list of the top 10 energy zapping offenders and how you can avoid them.
- Lack of Sleep Duh, right? Well how come we don't get enough sleep? It needs to be a priority and you need to muster up the proper motivation to make it happen. Now, not everyone needs 8 hours of sleep, but some do. How do you figure out how much you need? Experiment. Measure how much you need by how you feel the next day. Are you dragging with droopy eyelids all day if you only sleep for 7 hours? Then that's not enough. If you feel mostly alert, then you've hit on the right amount for you.
- Sugar Avoid it. If you must eat sweets try to combine them with fiber which slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Most fruits naturally have both the sweetness and the fiber. The next time you have a candy bar or can of soda, watch for the subsequent energy dip that occurs within 30-60 minutes. Be prepared to nap because that's what you will feel like doing.
- Caffeine I'm sorry, but caffeine is the big lie. Don't hate me. It's simply the laws of physics. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Caffeine follows this law. Initially you will see a kick of energy from caffeine, but everyone pays the price later in terms of tiredness, insomnia, or irritability. This is obviously a personal choice, but there are many, including myself, who have improved their life by eliminating or decreasing their caffeine intake. Here is an article with both pros and cons to help you decide if you want to kick the caffeine habit.
- Lack of Exercise If you don't use it, you lose it. Your muscles store and therefore provide energy. Exercise gives you energy especially if you do it on a regular basis. Shoot for 20-30 minutes everyday to improve your energy levels. Another simple thing you can do is take a 5 minute break every hour to get up from your work to stretch and walk around a bit. So if you're feeling lethargic, get your blood pumping by moving your body. If you're feeling exhausted on a particular day, see #1 and get some rest instead.
- Not Enough Oxygen Many of us have shallow breathing most of the time. When we do that we're not getting enough oxygen which is the element we need to burn fuel inside our bodies for energy. Deep breathing will serve another important purpose and that is moving fluids through the lymph system. Your lymph system eliminates toxins which in turn frees your body to work on more important things like your goals! What to do: 2-3 times a day take 5 minutes to do 10 slow long deep breaths. Breath in slowly, hold, and then release slowly too. You'll be amazed how good this makes you feel!
- Processed Foods The more live foods you eat, fruits and vegetables, the more alive you will feel. Seek to eat healthy foods: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and good fats such as found in salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, and olive oil. Here are some additional healthy eating tips.
- Dehydration This is an often overlooked cause of fatigue. When you don't get enough water, blood flow to your organs, including your brain, is slowed down making you tired. At a minimum, be sure to at least drink enough water to replace what you lose through your daily activities. This amount will vary from person to person. While many people scoff at the 8 glasses per day rule, it is indeed a good rule of thumb (as explained here). It is also important to note that your water needs can come from juices and other beverages, but bear in mind that caffeinated drinks will make your body shed water so you may need to drink more if you drink a lot of caffeine. Be safe about it and just drink more water.
- Stress Life is stressful by definition, but for many of us, we make it worse by overfilling our schedules. Instead, stop trying to do it all. Figure out what is most important to you. Cut out the rest. Trim your schedule. Learn to say no. And try meditation. By simply meditating once or twice a day for 10-20 minutes will make a huge difference in your stress levels. If you're tired in the middle of the day a "meditation nap" is a great way to rejuvenate your energy. Another thing to elevate your happiness and decrease stress is to practice gratitude and be mindful of keeping your internal voice focused on the glass being half full.
- Chronic Pain Daily pain can take the form of debilitating back pain or as simple as chronic foot pain from wearing tight shoes. The thing with chronic pain is we become used to it to a certain degree. Many people just live with it. This is not good, because chronic pain robs you of energy. Pay attention to your body to identify any pain you are experiencing on a daily basis and come up with a plan to alleviate it. So, for example, if you always feel enormous relief upon taking off your shoes at night, you might want to find more comfortable shoes. If you have sciatica pain you might want to begin a slow regimen of simple stretches such at toe touching and hip opener stretches. If you are having knee pain, and are carrying extra weight, losing some weight might help relieve that daily pain. Other pain relieving strategies include stretching, massage, acupuncture, or a pain management program from a doctor who specializes in this.
- Toxic People People who are negative can rob some of your energy too if you let them. There are a few actions you can take. Make a commitment to not engage with negative people. Don't fight with them. Don't expect better from them. Instead, try to practice compassion for them. Maybe their negativity is a reflection of pain in their life. Focus on that when having to deal with them. Be kind and make it a point to spend time with positive people every day.