Do you feel like you’re running on empty much of the time? Do any of these habits sound familiar when you think about your own life? If so, this post is for you? You’ll discover common energy-zapping behaviors that contribute to your fatigue and how to change them to feel more energized throughout the day.
1. Sitting in front of a screen all day
Spending all day sitting at a desk, your body goes into “hibernation mode.” Everything slows down, including your metabolism. Circulation slows, and you don’t breathe as deeply. If you hunch over at your desk, it squeezes your abdominal cavity and places upward pressure on your lungs so they don’t expand as deeply.
Research even shows that people who sit for more than six hours per day have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer than those who sit for less than six hours per day.
2. Eating too much sugar
Sugar is a source of energy, which makes it seem like a good idea to eat it throughout the day to stay energized. Sugar is a sneaky villain. It can cause you to gain weight, and it’s been linked to serious health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. But one of the less obvious ways that sugar can harm your health is by zapping your energy levels.
When you eat sugar, it causes a spike in your blood sugar levels. Many people feel an immediate burst of energy when they eat something sweet. But as your body works to restore your blood sugar level to normal after the spike, you experience an energy crash — sometimes within just a few hours after eating sugar.
If you’re looking for a quick pick-me-up that won’t leave you feeling tired again soon after eating it, try drinking some water or green tea instead of reaching for candy or soda. And if you’re trying to lose weight by cutting back on sugary foods and drinks, there are other ways to get energized besides reaching for more sugar!
The best way to avoid excess sugar is to learn about the food labels on packaged foods before you buy them. Also, keep an eye out for hidden sugars in processed snacks and drinks that aren’t labeled “sugar” (like bread).
3. Negative thoughts and emotions
Your energy level is directly tied to your mental state, so it’s easy to get things done when you’re feeling optimistic. But when your thoughts turn negative — about yourself or the world in general — that energy drains away. If you’re feeling tired suddenly and can’t figure out why look at what’s going on in your head: Are you worried about something? Do you feel like giving up? Regardless of the cause, focus on something positive that happened recently or a goal for tomorrow instead.
You don’t have to be perfectly happy all day — everyone has good days and bad days — but staying positive as much as possible will help keep those bad days from dragging down your overall well-being. When negative emotions hit, don’t ignore them; instead, acknowledge them and let them go. Work on mindfulness and focus on the joy of each moment.
4. Eating a low-quality diet
It’s no surprise that diet is crucial in feeling energized because what you put into your mouth directly impacts how your body functions. If you don’t get enough essential nutrients or have an unhealthy gut environment that reduces absorption, you could experience symptoms like fatigue and mood swings.
For example, people with digestive problems struggle with energy levels throughout the day due to poor digestion (even if they eat well). This can leave them tired even when their diet isn’t lacking key nutrients. Make sure you’re maintaining good gut health and eating whole, unprocessed foods most of the time.
5. Not exercising at all or working out too hard
Not exercising can cause fatigue because of the hibernation mode you enter when you sit too long, but overdoing it isn’t productive either. The amount of exercise you need to feel energized can vary from person to person. The best way to figure out what kind of exercise gets your blood pumping without wearing yourself out is to try different types until something feels right — you’ll know when it does because endorphins will start flowing through every pore in your body (and maybe even some serotonin too). You shouldn’t feel exhausted afterward
6. Not drinking enough water
Studies have shown that mild dehydration (defined as losing just 2% of body weight through sweat) can cause fatigue and irritability in healthy people. The human body is made up of over 60% water, and a large percentage of that water is in our cells. So, it should be no surprise that we must stay hydrated, especially when exercising and during hot weather.
It’s important to know how much water you drink each day to ensure you get enough fluids into your system. One way to do this is to monitor your urine color. If you’re well hydrated, your urine should be clear or light yellow and have no smell. Dark yellow to brown urine is a sign of dehydration, but it can also be caused by taking certain medications or consuming certain foods.
Urine color chart:
• Dark Yellow/Brown — Dehydration
• Light Yellow — Normal Hydration
• Clear/Transparent — Dehydration
7. Drinking too much caffeine to compensate for poor sleep
Sleep experts say people need seven or eight hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to properly rest and rejuvenate themselves physically, so they can function mentally at their best during waking hours. However, many people don’t get enough sleep and compensate by consuming caffeine. Caffeine is a short-term fix for fatigue and becomes less effective if you drink it regularly. Work on your sleep habits rather than masking fatigue with caffeine.
8. Not getting enough sunlight
Disruption of your body’s internal clock can cause fatigue. The best way to adjust your body clock is to expose yourself to sunlight.
The brain’s circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep and wakefulness, is governed by exposure to light. When you’re exposed to light, a chemical reaction occurs in the retina that sends a message to the hypothalamus, which then sends signals to other parts of the brain telling it that it’s daytime.
When you’re exposed to darkness, this process reverses, and the body starts producing melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
So if you want your body clock adjusted quickly, try getting up at dawn and going outside for at least 30 minutes every morning. Even if it’s overcast or rainy, try to expose yourself as much as possible during these hours. It may take several days before you notice any difference in how well you sleep at night.
9. An undiagnosed medical problem
Fatigue can be caused by the factors above, but it can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition — from depression to an underactive thyroid gland. The list of medical problems that can cause fatigue is long. If adjusting your lifestyle doesn’t boost your energy level, see your healthcare provider for an exam and blood work.
Each of these habits is a little different, but they all have one thing in common: they drain your energy. The good news is that you can change these habits and feel more energized. Try out some of our suggestions above and see if they work for you. Looking to make more permanent changes to your mental health? Contact New York City’s #1 Psychiatrist.
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Dr. Jeff Ditzell, D.O. is the lead psychiatrist at Dr. Ditzell Psychiatry with over 25 years experience treating people for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, Adult ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, using ketamine treatments, psychotherapy, and so much more.
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