Often we focus on what’s energizing and how to access more energy (yes, important to do!), but let’s briefly look into what drains our energy. Here are some energy drains and what you can do about them. Do you see any that tend to plague you? What are you willing to change to manage these? (And see below for ideas on what gives us energy!)
Pushing Back Bedtime
While it is recommended to have ‘me time’, swapping bedtime for this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation and kick off a vicious cycle of fatigue. To combat this energy drainer, establish a consistent bedtime routine and prioritize adequate sleep. Also, try to find other times during the day/week when you can focus ‘me time’ and on the activities you enjoy.
In our too-much-to-do world, many of us have been guilty of trying to accomplish more in less time by doing several things at once. But in reality, multitasking can be more of an energy killer than a time saver.
Research suggests that juggling multiple tasks at once leaves you unable to give your full attention to any one task. This can lead to errors and a sense of frustration. Constantly shifting focus between projects can also lead to mental fatigue and burnout.
To combat the energy-draining effects of multitasking, prioritize tasks, focus on one thing at a time, and take regular breaks to recharge your mental battery.
Negative relationships and the resulting stress can be mentally and physically draining. Often, the best way to cope with a toxic relationship is by ending it altogether, but that’s not always possible. If you’re dealing with a relationship that leaves you feeling drained instead of energized, set firm boundaries with the person and focus on the positive relationships.
Trying to be perfect takes a lot of energy! When we strive for perfection in everything, we can become hyper-focused on the details and lose sight of the bigger picture. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-doubt, which can drain emotional energy. Instead of trying to do everything perfectly, lower your expectations and practice self-compassion.
Virtual meetings like Zoom and Teams are now typical whether we’ve returned to the office or not. This way is useful, essential, yet back-to-back meetings- even virtual ones- can be draining.
To beat Zoom fatigue, try turning off your self-view during meetings and limit the number of video meetings you have in a day and make sure you have sufficient breaks.
Too Many Decisions
Every time we make a decision, our brains need to process information, weigh options, and evaluate outcomes. This can deplete our mental resources, leaving us exhausted and overwhelmed. Decision fatigue can also lead to indecision or procrastination, as we may become paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong choice.
To combat decision fatigue, simplify your choices or delegate decision-making to others. Try streamlining routine decisions, and prioritize the most important decisions when your mental energy is highest (for most it’s in the morning).
Where can you lessen your energy drainers? Now, let’s focus on what naturally energizes us.
Stick to a Regular Wake Time
If you have an unpredictable schedule or have a habit of sacrificing sleep for leisure activities, you may not realize just how much an inconsistent wake time negatively affects your circadian rhythm. What’s more, it may also lead to higher risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, and other metabolic issues.
“Anchoring your wake time and keeping it consistent—yes, even on weekends and holidays—prevents the body from doing significant physiological rerouting and detouring, which can feel fatiguing”, says Christina Pierpaoli Parker, Ph.D. “A consistent wake time has strong associations with increased energy, improved mood, cognition, and even cardiometabolic health.”
“Physical activity tells the body that the sleep phase is over and often helps people feel much more awake,” explains Lynelle Schneeberg, Psy.D., a sleep specialist in Farmington, Connecticut. The activity doesn’t have to be strenuous—stretching, yoga, walking, or taking the dog for a stroll can all be helpful.
Even at work, don’t forget to take frequent breaks, get up from your desk and get moving. Prolonged sitting in the morning or afternoon can make you feel sluggish. Research suggests that even a few minutes of light-intensity walking can be invigorating.
Turn On Some Tunes
Listening to some music while doing any activity (yes, to household chores and anything else you need to do in your day), can give you a lift. Research suggests that starting off the day with some upbeat music can help with alertness (and a great way to start things off on a positive note!).
Soak Up Some Sun
A little bit of sunlight is one of the many factors that influence your circadian rhythm, which regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Getting bright light early in the day helps to regulate that system and will also allow you to feel more alert in the A.M.
The sun is a free, healthy, and powerful stimulant. A great way to get your day going is to have breakfast or morning tea near a sunny window. Just a few minutes of sun time can help you maximize morning alertness and start the day fresh. And provides a dose of Vitamin D as well.
You can feel more awake by simply having something to eat. To give yourself sustained energy, make sure you have protein in the mix. Also, make sure you stay hydrated. Dehydration is known to cause feelings of fatigue and weakness. And, since most of us get dehydrated while we’re sleeping at night, make sure and drink a glass of water soon after waking.
Do things you enjoy
To give yourself a boost of energy, engage in activities you enjoy. Studies show that when you do things of interest, that you like to do or are passionate about, your body chemistry changes, creating those feel good hormones. That’s the wonderful, satisfied feeling we get in our body, so to have more of that, you need to do more things that you enjoy and love!
What are other things that give you energy? What can you start to do to create more energy and lessen feelings of depletion? I invite you to tap into what you know works for you and make sure you are doing these things regularly.
As always, I am here to support and help you find the way best for you.
References-The Upside by Twill
6 Surprising Energy Drainers that may be causing your Fatigue by Chelsea Hetherington, Ph.D.
How to fight Fatigue and feel more Engaged with Life by Homaira Kabir