If running on empty seems to be your constant energy level lately, there could be a multitude of little things you do (or don’t) sapping the spark out of your stamina. Many of us tend to pick up bad habits draining our energy more than we realize. Making a few simple tweaks here and there can make a world of difference in feeling reenergized and refreshed putting the pep back into your step.
1. You’re dehydrated – Experience as little as a 2% drop of fluid loss and you’ll be dragging. Without adequate fluid intake blood volume is reduced. Reduced blood volume makes blood thicker requiring the heart to pump less efficiently reducing the speed at which oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the muscles and organs. To calculate normal fluid needs, take your weight in pounds, divide in half and drink that number of ounces of fluid each day.
2. You skip exercise when feeling tired – It’s very tempting to skip workouts when feeling tired, but don’t. Even light exercise three times a week for as little as 20 minutes can help reduce fatigue and improve energy levels. Regular exercise boosts strength and stamina helping the cardiovascular system to run more efficiently, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your tissues keeping them feeling wide awake.
3. You skip breakfast – After sleeping for several hours during the night, our body needs to be refueled with breakfast. If skipped, plan on feeling sluggish. Plan a breakfast that includes whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fat – oatmeal topped with walnuts and raisins, a smoothie made with fruit, protein powder, low-fat milk and almond butter, or scrambled eggs with two slices of whole wheat toast.
4. You go on vacation but you work – Vacations are meant to get away from it all, including your job. Taking work with you or checking on work emails is not giving you the break you deserve. Allow yourself to truly unwind giving your mind and body a chance to rejuvenate and recharge itself. This way when you go back to work you’ll be more creative, productive, and effective at what you do.
5. You’re a social media hound at bedtime – If checking emails, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any other social media has become your bedtime routine, stop. The glare from the light of a tablet, smartphone or laptop throws off your body’s natural circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin. This hormone helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. Avoid all technology beginning at least one to two hours before calling it a night.
6. You like to stay up late on weekends – Staying up into the wee hours of Saturday night and sleeping in late on Sunday morning may sound like a good idea but will only lead to a sleep-deprived Monday morning. It’s better to go ahead and get up at the usual time on Sunday morning but take a power nap in the afternoon for about 20 minutes. This can recharge your body just enough without disturbing the deeper stages of sleep that are best gotten during the night.
7. You exist on junk food – If your diet consists of foods full of sugar, white flour and unhealthy fat, you most likely are experiencing blood sugar spikes followed by sharp drops causing fatigue throughout the day. Stabilize your blood sugar by eating lean protein along with a whole grain and a vegetable at every meal. Good choices include lean beef and veggies, chicken breast with whole grain rice, salmon and sweet potato or a salad with chicken and fruit.
8. You find it hard to say “no” – When we try to please everyone we only end up feeling miserable and energy-drained. We don’t have to say “yes” to everything such as volunteering at a fundraiser or taking on an extra duty over the weekend – oftentimes it only makes us feel resentful and angry. Learn the art of saying “no.” If it’s something you would enjoy doing, go ahead and do so. But taking on too many tasks or responsibilities can carve out precious time for you to take time for yourself.
9. Your office (or home) is a mess – Clutter is exhausting. Whether it’s your desk at work or clutter within your home, when it becomes too overwhelming it can restrict your ability to focus, limiting your brain’s ability to process information. Each day take time to organize and put things away. At the end of the day can be a good time for this – that way when you wake up in the morning, it’s a positive way to start anew.
10. You may have a thyroid deficiency – Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland that produces hormones to control sleepiness and hunger, is underactive. It can be a common cause of over-sleeping but don’t try to self-diagnosis. A simple blood test at your doctor’s office can pinpoint if this might be the problem for you feeling lethargic even when getting plenty of sleep.