If you are like most busy people, the approaching holidays means your stress will be getting more intense and your energy will be dropping at an alarming rate. Getting things done—or even enjoying the friends and family around you—when you are stressed, tired, and feeling lackluster is impossible.
What if you could reclaim your energy—throughout the holidays, the winter, and the entire year? It is possible, and it’s not all that hard to do. Now is the time to look at the things you do every day that drain your energy and impact your ability to perform at your peak. Eliminate these top five energy drainers and soon you’ll have plenty of energy for your family, your friends…and you work.
It seems counterintuitive that a stimulant would actually drain your energy, but it does for three reasons. First, while caffeine—in coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks—can give you a temporary boost to get you through a slump, it disrupts your sleep. If you don’t sleep well, you won’t be rested, and you’ll repeat the low-energy cycle the next day.
Second, when your caffeine boost wears off, your energy levels come crashing down. This crash leaves you anxious, nervous, and restless. Why? Because caffeine doesn't instruct your DNA to make more energy; it tells it to activate your nervous system, a process that expends energy. Third, too much caffeine can dehydrate you rather than quench your thirst. Dehydrated bodies are headachy , listless, and spacey. Drink water instead. Our bodies are made of water, and we need it to stay hydrated. Drink it and your body will thank you with energy and focus—a much healthier energy boost than caffeine.
2. Sugar and poor diet
Like caffeine, sugar doesn’t really give you an energy boost; it only appears to. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is very high in sugar and other chemicals—both of which drain your energy. Whether you’re eating sugar in candy or consuming it in the form of high fructose corn syrup and other additives in packaged food and fast foods, it will slow you down. These sugars have little to no nutritional value, so they provide empty calories that your body can’t use to refuel and re-energize itself.
Why does this matter? Because nutrient-rich food is the fuel needed for every function of your mind and body—thinking, moving, and healing. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals will help your body perform at it’s best, both physically and mentally. You find these vital nutrients in whole foods, especially organic or locally grown, not in fast food or packaged meals.
3. No exercise
When you’ve had a hard day at work, the last thing you want to do is exercise. Getting up early or taking a break in the middle of the day isn’t any easier. But sitting still isn’t going to give you the energy you need to get things done. Nor is it good, refreshing rest. Getting up and moving will actually make you feel more energized. That's because exercise increases the amount of your body's serotonin and dopamine—chemicals that make you feel good.
If you dread the thought of going to the gym for hours, or don’t know how to work exercise into your busy schedule, don’t worry. Studies show that smaller bursts of movement can have a profound effect on your fitness and energy. This means taking the stairs at work, walking around the block for 15 minutes, or doing chair yoga at the office. Just get moving.
4. Lack of sleep
Sleep is critical for good health and vibrant energy, but it’s something people give up to fit in all the activities of life. This is a mistake because it is during sleep that the mind and body repair themselves. In addition, a lack of sleep actually increases your stress and anxiety.
For maximum rejuvenation, most people need at least 8 1/2 hours of quality sleep—sleep that is solid and uninterrupted. So then, if you have to get up at 6:30, then you should go to bed by 10 p.m. To find out how much sleep you really need, for several days wake up without an alarm. Note what time you went to bed and what time you naturally woke up. Over the course of a few days, you will notice a consistency to how long you naturally sleep. That’s how much sleep you need.
Multitasking may seem like an odd candidate for the top five energy drains, but it definitely belongs on the list. The reason is that when you are multitasking you are not really focusing on any one thing—you are too distracted by all the other things you’re trying to do. Your mind reads distraction as chaos. Chaos is energy draining and that negatively impacts your productivity.
There are some simple things you can do to focus on one task at a time, such as making a daily to-do list, setting specific times of the day to check e-mail, and turning off your Blackberry/Smartphone during meetings. These things work because they help you focus on the task and at hand and help you stay focused and alert. You will be surprised by how much you accomplish, and how much more energy you have, when you start single-tasking.
Go Ahead, Get Energized
Are you ready to reclaim your energy and tackle this holiday season with good humor and joy? Start working on eliminating these energy drains today and see how quickly you are able to relax and rejuvenate.