7 habits that drain your energy

Sarah Hyland

Studying Health Sciences, Writer & Product Trainer
@sarahsciland


24 April 2020

Why am I always tired and have no energy?

Dealing with low energy can be really frustrating. Here are some habits that will contribute to the problem:

  1. Bickering
  2. A sit-down
  3. Wine o'clock
  4. Negativity and worry
  5. Netflix and Tv
  6. A quick pick-me-up 
  7. Smoking and vaping.

1. Bickering

If you live alone, you may not have to deal with a twice-daily joust over dishwasher-loading. I imagine that, even then, with telecommunications and a LOVED ONE, it may still be possible to be exhausted by bickering. You only need one other person and an opinion. I'm not going to even mention the bag of cats that are children.

If this sounds familiar: we are in lockdown – of course, it does! The power is yours! You can choose not to bicker. Let the dishwasher be stuffed with clumps of food. Who cares! Let your LOVED ONE be smug about whatever.

You can be right in your head and can enjoy some peace and quiet. Distract yourself if others are driving you crazy. Go for a walk or wash a window – you can do this as vigorously as is needed.

2. A sit down

Resting your weary bones occasionally is the right and proper thing to do. Everyone needs to rest after a bit of work. But is your chair more familiar with your bum, than the ground is with your feet? There's a difference between not exercising and being inactive. Inactivity is not moving about much at all.

Inactivity can affect the manufacture of energy in the body2. Even two weeks of inactivity can cause the body to lose muscle and gain fatty tissue. Less oxygen reaches the muscles and then less energy is produced. The older you are the more of a toll this takes on your cardiorespiratory fitness. This is how well your heart and lungs can pump oxygen to your muscles.

So, pick up a broom or your feather duster. Dance around your sofa and hop over the pouf. You don't need to sign on for a marathon to be active. Every time you move a muscle, you are helping to make it stronger. You are getting the blood to your cells. You are making yourself more energetic. Move it or lose it.

3. It’s wine o clock

It's become such a social norm to open a bottle of wine every evening in order to relax. Every contemporary TV drama has a sassy independent woman donning a giant goblet. The male equivalent (so groomed) is enjoying a craft beer after his triathlon. In the 1970s they had cigarettes. They weren't the best idea either.

Alcohol, whilst a marvelous social lubricant, is hard on the digestive system. It can irritate the lining of the gut where the majority of serotonin, the happy hormone, is manufactured. It can affect sleep, and for many, may be the cause of their persistent insomnia.

So, do try to enjoy alcohol as the treat that it is. Keep it for the weekends and for occasions with loved ones. There are better daily habits that can improve your energy levels and mood. Have a relaxing bath or ring a buddy. Do an online yoga class or find a new smoothie recipe.

4. Negativity and worry

Anxiety is so tiring. Low mood can feel like the very life is draining out of you. When you have very little energy it can be very hard to motivate yourself.

Make a list of important activities. Think about whether you can do all of these. There's no point in putting a million jobs on there if you have little time or energy. Set achievable goals and give yourself a pat on the back when they are done. Prioritise tasks that will help your energy levels. Be kind to yourself.

Is constantly checking news updates increasing your anxiety? Are you compulsively checking your phone to see what you have missed? There are better ways to spend your time. Check the news once or twice a day only, to keep informed. Social media is supposed to be a platform that allows you to stay in touch with friends. It should be fun. Maybe a phone call or Zoom with a good buddy would be better support at this time.

Talk to your GP or practitioner if you are finding it hard to cope. There may be a medical reason why you are feeling so bad. There are many natural herbal remedies that may help with the management of mild stress. Find a friend to talk to you. A trouble shared is a trouble halved.


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5. Netflix and TV

I am not maligning TV and Netflix: oh, blessed entertainment! A good series is such a pleasure; but it can be too much of a good thing. Between 88 -95% of American adults have lost sleep in order to binge-watch multiple episodes of a series3. I too have drunk from this cup.

The body is hard at work whilst we sleep as important repair work is carried out. This happens between the hours of 11pm and 3am when our immune system is strengthened. During the dream cycle, REM, any useless thoughts are processed and ditched.

Going to bed late will result in tiredness the next day. Ongoing sleep deprivation has more long-lasting effects. Sleep loss affects the body's ability to store energy4. It also affects its ability to control how we access energy.

Tasks like schoolwork and meal preparation will appear to be more challenging. It may make you choose that takeaway instead of a home-cooked meal. Maybe you'll study later... Everything will feel like so much effort.

So, enjoy your TV but treasure your sleep. Try to be tucked up before 11pm. Please do not watch pandemic dramas or apocalyptic zombie movies if you are a sensitive soul. Your poor brain would rather process domestic trivia and doesn't need that type of stimulation.

6. A quick pick-me-up

A cup of tea with a biccie. A lovely coffee, maybe. Something to give you a bit of a lift when energy levels are flagging. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are full of quick-release energy. When digested, they are easy to break down into glucose and they hit the bloodstream fast. Caffeine in tea, coffee and fizzy drinks are powerful stimulants. You feel energised. Then, just as quickly, the boost is used up, leaving you even more tired. It's easy to get stuck in a cycle of quick fixes.

Eating more complex foods that release energy slowly is better because they take longer to digest so will keep your energy up for longer. Examples of slow-release carbohydrates are wholegrain bread, brown pasta and brown rice. Try eating sensible meals like porridge for breakfast. Lunch could be homemade soup with rye bread. Dinner, a chilli with a baked potato. Keep the snacks healthy: a piece of fruit, a handful of nuts or peanut butter on a celery stick.

Even mild dehydration can affect your energy levels and concentration5. Dehydration of even 2% can cause fatigue, reduced performance and reduced endurance. Coffee and tea can make you pee more because they are mild diuretics. It can flush out your potassium and can cause water retention and puffiness. Plain water will top up your fluid levels much more effectively. You need to drink one and a half litres a day.

7. Smoking AND vaping

Smoking and vaping nicotine may be energy stimulants but, like coffee, they will result in poorer energy levels. Smokers suffer from respiratory inflammation that affects their sinuses and lung capacity. Blocked noses, dry coughs and wheezy chests all inhibit oxygen supply to the cells. This affects energy levels.

Giving up smoking is incredibly difficult, but there is tons of support and help out there. Give it some thought.

In the meantime, look after your breathing. Keep active to get the blood moving and to help circulation. Keep the sinuses clear with nasal rinses or Sinuforce Nasal Spray. Sinuforce contains eucalyptus to open up the airways, and menthol, which is cooling. Its sterile container means that no artificial preservatives are used. It can be used for 30 days and has no rebound drying effect. This will help congestion and may help with the snoring!

References:

1 http://www.irishhealth.com/article.html?id=26934
2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2775419/
3 https://aasm.org/sleep-survey-binge-watching-results/
4 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1984006314000583
5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

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