Thursday, May 28, 2015

15 Everyday Mistakes That Are Sapping Your Energy

by Dan Bischoff

Between long work days, family responsibilities, and a lively social calendar, it can be hard to keep up your stamina and spirit all day long.  Sometimes, no matter our efforts in maintaining enthusiasm, there are still little things we do each day that sabotage our precious energy levels.

But by tweaking your daily habits, you can break some of these energy-sucking behaviors and find yourself never running out of steam.

Here are 15 of them:

1. You don’t fall asleep or wake up at the same time each day

Setting an internal clock is key for busy bodies. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on the weekend, can help compensate for a bad night’s sleep and even assist in avoiding Monday morning sleep hangovers. Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount to having an energy-filled day, so make sure you’re getting enough sleep and regulating your sleep schedule for the best rest.

2. You fall asleep to a bright screen

Whether it’s the TV, an iPad, or a video game, falling asleep (or attempting to) to a bright screen impacts your sleep. The cognitive stimulation your brain receives from these devices revs your brain up, instead of quieting it down for sleep. Studies show that the glow of a screen pushes light through your retinas and delays the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. A quiet, dark room is the best way to get quality shuteye.

3. You skip breakfast

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. Your energy stores can be depleted up to 80 percent from the night before, and when you skip your first meal of the day you’re running off of what little energy you have left. Eating a healthy breakfast not only gives your body the nutrition it needs, but also regulates your metabolism so you don’t reach for energy-sapping snacks throughout the day.

4. You stress out

Stress is a natural biological response to many life situations, but allowing stress to rule your body and mind can leave you worn out by the end of the day. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which, when not expelled from the body properly, can lead to exhaustion, interfere with memory, and raise blood pressure. When you’re feeling stressed, try to release that hormone by engaging in a little exercise, deep-breathing, or brief meditation. These activities will allow you to let go of your stress and rebuild your energy levels.

5. You don’t get enough exercise

When it comes to fighting fatigue, exercise is one of the best medicines. Studies show that the more you move, the more you want to move. In fact, a 2008 University of Georgia study found that people who normally complained of fatigue could increase energy by 20 percent while decreasing fatigue by as much as 65 percent by participating in regular, low-intensity exercise. Try tricks like taking the stairs or parking in the back of the lot to get more movement out of your day.

6. You don’t eat enough protein

While healthy foods like leafy greens and fruit are essential to any diet, protein is an essential element to sustained energy and preventing blood sugar crashes. Sugar and carbohydrates unaccompanied by protein can cause your body to fall into a downward energy spiral. A protein shake in the morning is the best fix, but keeping protein-rich foods, like nuts or beef jerky, around the office can also help with a mid-afternoon energy boost.

7. You eat too infrequently

It’s not just sugar crashes that can zap your energy, low blood sugar can also leave you feeling drained and lethargic. After eating, your glucose, or blood sugar, only stays level for 3 to 4 hours. Even if you can only have a small bite, it’s essential to eat light snacks throughout the day to keep your mind and body energized.

8. You have a cluttered workspace

Whatever your daily workspace, trying to navigate an untidy area can be mentally overwhelming and distracting. When you’re constantly digging through paperwork or looking for misplaced objects, you’re wasting valuable time (which leads to energy-sapping stress), as well as brainpower. Organizing your workspace will lead to a more efficient and energizing day.

9. You don’t get enough sunlight

Early risers and those who work in offices with few windows can go hours without seeing any rays. Studies show that 20-30 minutes of natural light in the morning can normalize your internal clock and regulate energy levels, metabolism, and appetite. Try to eat breakfast outside or by a window and open the blinds at work. A little sunshine can do wonders for your daily energy levels.

10. You have road rage on the way to work

Sitting in traffic can be frustrating, but road rage expels unnecessary energy and sets the stage for a short fuse the rest of the day. Try to change your mentality about your morning commute. Listening to soothing music, engaging podcasts, or even silence to help clear your mind and arrive to work ready and willing to take on the day.

11. You rely on coffee

Coffee is the sweet nectar that guides many hard workers through their day. However, coffee can have negative effects on sustaining your energy all day. The caffeine can lead to a crash when the coffee stops and its high-sugar properties also lead to a blood sugar crash later in the day. Plus, coffee can be addictive, eventually replacing natural hormone and glucose levels that give your body energy. It’s okay to get a boost every now and again, but try other energy alternatives like green tea or Vitamin B supplements to reduce negative after-effects.

12. You don’t drink enough water in the morning

As you reduce your morning coffee intake, try to replace it with a hydration habit. Drinking water in the morning is crucial to maintaining hydration levels all day, which regulates appetite and metabolism, as well as provides the body with sustained energy. Try to drink at least 16 oz of water before leaving the house.

13. You are around negative people

Whether it’s zombie-like colleagues or a nagging office-mate, negative people at work can be a huge drain on your energy. But there are a lot of tricks to keep negative colleagues from sapping your stamina. Put in headphones to fend off annoying coworkers or find a quiet, happy space in the office you can go after a particularly negative interaction. And don’t take that negativity home, when you leave the office, leave the energy zappers there with it.

14. You have bad posture

Slouching or tense shoulders have negative physical effects, but a San Francisco State University professor found that bad posture has negative mental effects too. His study found that altering body posture to a more upright position can improve mood and energy levels. Simply sitting up straighter can give you that little boost of energy you need to finish out the day.

15. You have a negative attitude

On a bad day you can be your own worse energy zapper. A negative attitude can leave you feeling irritable and exhausted, but switching to a positive mentality can quickly turn the day around. If you start the day on the wrong side of the bed, find a positive affirmation to lift your spirits, get lunch with someone who can cheer you up, or have a reward for yourself when you get home.

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