By Corey Lewis, CPT, CSCS
Feeling drained? Run-down? It might be anything from the quality of sleep you’re getting to the time of year. However, it may also be bad habits.
This article can help you identify habits that drain you of energy. These may be physical, emotional, or mental. Everything you do is an exchange of energy and plays a part in mood and motivation.
You’ve heard it before—breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And, despite what you may think about intermittent fasting and similar diet plans that require you to skip a meal, cutting breakfast out of your routine reduces your energy levels, diminishes mental focus, and even leaves you feeling emotionally drained. Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day.
According to Psychology Today, setting unrealistic expectations can leave you feeling mentally drained and emotionally exhausted. “When setting unrealistically high expectations, the chances of failing to meet them are also higher, which means more frustration. . . . These tiny failures in which we or others are not doing what ‘should’ be done have an insidious, toxic effect on emotional wellness.”
Our current world is always “on,” and there is an unspoken expectation to make yourself available at all times. Whether that’s answering text messages or phone calls, replying to comments on social media, or chatting within an app, being connected can be exhausting. Constantly being “plugged in” can leave you feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically drained, particularly during stressful times in your life.
We’ve all been there before. You’re already tired, or maybe you have a big day planned and want to have as much energy as possible. So, you skip your workout. Big mistake. ABC News reports that “In a University of Georgia study, sedentary but otherwise healthy adults who began exercising lightly three days a week for as little as 20 minutes at a time reported feeling less fatigued and more energized after six weeks.” Contrary to popular belief, exercise actually makes you feel less tired!
Who hasn’t had that one day when all you can think about is a huge, greasy cheese pizza? Maybe tacos are your kryptonite, or it could be a double cheeseburger with all the toppings. Junk food like this can be incredibly satisfying, but it robs you of energy and even affects your mental clarity. The next time you’re tempted to go for a junk food meal, think about these healthy eating tips.
Feeling drained? It might not be bad habits so much as bad company. If you find yourself dealing with negativity from a friend, it might be wise to learn more about how to choose the right friends. As the New York Times reports, “Some friends . . . lie, insult and betray. Some are overly needy. Some give too much advice. Psychologists and sociologists are now calling attention to the negative health effects of bad friends.”
Sleep is the time when your body heals and your batteries recharge. If you’re not getting enough sleep because you’re burning the candle at both ends, or you’re getting low-quality sleep, you’ll feel tired, drained, and groggy all day. And, make no mistake, that sleep debt you owe will come due in a wide variety of ways. For instance, it affects your ability to pay attention, to operate machinery (like driving a car), and even reduces your IQ. How do you break this habit? That all depends on the reason for your sleep deprivation. It could be as simple as biting the bullet and not staying up late. However, it might require setting a regular bedtime, getting a new pillow, or even investing in a new bed.
We’ve touched on the dangers of having negative friends. But if you’re that negative person, not only are you the equivalent of an energy vampire to those around you, but it also drains your own energy levels. If you constantly find yourself looking on the negative side or saying negative things, your mood could be a barrier to feeling energized.
These are just some of the bad habits that can leave you feeling drained and listless, decreasing your energy levels and your quality of life. The answer is to break those habits, but how long does that actually take? The popular opinion seems to be 21 days, but is that correct? Gretchen Rubin, writing for Psychology Today, points out that, for her, 21 days was nowhere near enough time to break a bad habit.
She states, “For my happiness project, I tried for many weeks to get in the habit of keeping a food journal, and I failed and gave up, and then tried again, and I never could get in the habit.” She goes on to point out that a study conducted in 2009 found that it took up to 66 days to form a new habit, and that breaking an old habit was equally challenging.
Ultimately, breaking bad habits may take longer than you might want, but it can be done. While you’re working to kick those habits, it’s important to have something to take their place—something positive to focus on, such as learning healthy habits for your lifestyle change.
The most important thing is to recognize the habits that are leaving you feeling drained and decide to act. Once you are in motion, things become exponentially easier. Remember, a body in motion tends to remain in motion, and that applies to changing your habits for the better as much as it does to anything else.