By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
How often do you feel overtired and exhausted? Most of us attribute tiredness to not getting enough sleep. However, what if your life choices were actually to blame? Everything we do requires energy. If we get distracted by inconsequential circumstances, we are wasting our energy. Distractions cause us to lose sight of our goals. You can only do so many things well, so it’s important to focus your energy on intention. One of the most effective ways to do this is to learn how to break bad habits.
All of us have at least one habit that drains us of energy. Most of us have several, and they can leave us feeling apathetic and stagnant. If you’re unhappy with your current life circumstances, how can you work toward your goals with passion and gratitude? Here, we’ll discuss some of the most common energy drains and how to cut them out of your life.
Energy drains can occur from something as seemingly innocent as junk food or as serious as a toxic relationship. Each one can vary in severity and cause more damage to different people. No matter how prominent it is in your life, though, it still depletes you.
Eating junk food physically drains your body, because it spikes your insulin and then drastically drops your blood sugar. This will leave you feeling tired, spaced out, and uncreative. If you want to be your best self, you should follow this healthy eating tip and eat foods that improve cognitive function, not cloud your thoughts. A great combination for a healthy brain is L-theanine and green tea extract. Together, these lower stress hormones and make you more alert.
Working too much is also an energy suck on your life. Don’t get me wrong, being hardworking is an admirable characteristic. However, we all need a little fun in our lives if we want to stay motivated and avoid burnout. If you completely cut out your ability to express creativity, your life can feel passionless. The secret to restoring your creative side is to take some time for yourself. Creativity can’t be forced. It happens when you slow down, do some self-care, go to a new class, or take a moment to clear your mind. In a world where everyone is rushing to do things, don’t be afraid to stop for a moment and take it all in.
Another huge energy drain is spending time with negative people. Have you ever talked to a friend who spent the entire conversation complaining about all of their problems? How did you feel afterward? I bet you left with a heavy heart and a sour taste in your mouth. This is because their negativity drag you down with them. Unproductive relationships are very dangerous for your mental health and your chances of success. The people you spend time with have one of the biggest influences on your future. You have to be careful to surround yourself with positive people so that you don’t waste thoughts and stresses on negativity. If you’re distracted, how can you succeed?
Another common distraction is being unable to properly manage your time. Whether you over structure or understructure your life, both are dangerous and result in underperformance. Overstructure leads to burnout, whereas understructure leaves you totally unprepared for anything life throws at you. To counteract over the structure, you must take time to enjoy yourself. Understructure is best dealt with keeping a schedule, completing tasks in order of importance, and not getting sucked into other peoples’ problems. If you fail to set boundaries with those around you, you may also struggle to get things done.
Our phones are also a constant energy drain. Just think about how much time you waste on social media every day alone. In fact, our phones are such a distraction that the mere presence of them in the same room as you causes a decline in cognitive function. A study conducted in 2017 found that participants who put their phones in another room executed an exercise better than those who had their phones on their desks or in their pockets. This indicates that although they weren’t thinking about their phones, their brains were still using energy to actively ignore the phones. If you want to focus better, consider putting your phone out of sight during work.
Habits of Mind refers to sixteen characteristics of intelligent human behavior. If you fully understand each point, you can use them to resolve problems you’re faced with—including how to avoid energy drains in your life. If you want to be successful, you must learn how successful people think! Proper application of these attributes allows you to live a life in alignment with your dreams and aspirations.
These Habits of Mind are attributes of the most successful people in our society. To be successful, you must be able to focus your energy. Follow these habits and you will be able to identify where you’re wasting your energy and how to solve it.
Do you believe that you can create your own reality? Most people would say that they believe their thoughts directly shape their lives. However, if they really believe this, why aren’t they more careful about their thoughts? Why aren’t they taking control of their lives?
According to neuroscience, we continue to create the same situations in our lives, because we only think about our actual experiences. For instance, if you’re always thinking about your problems, you will create more and more problems for yourself. Your actions and feelings all become repetitive, and as it creates a habit, you literally throw away control of your fate. To break the mold and reach those goals we’ve been dreaming of, we need to act greater than our current reality. The good news is that you created this habit and you can end it! The quantum model of reality says we have to change the ways we think and feel if we want to change our lives.
Everything you see was once just a thought. If you truly believe this, you will imagine your future with the feelings and emotions you’d experience as if it was happening in the present. Allowing yourself to experience these emotions gives your body biological signals that the event has already taken place. If we do it properly, we can begin to live out our future before we’ve even manifested it into reality.
The biggest challenge of our minds is not to give in to feelings of lack when our dreams don’t instantly come true. If we slide into that mindset, we show we don’t truly believe in our future. We’re back in our feelings of the past and will continue to create that loop over and over again.
If we truly understood the power of positive energy, we would also be more careful about our actions! Several studies have shown that positive energy has great benefits on health and life fulfillment. One such study, the Positive Affect study, found that positive emotions led to lower blood pressure and cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that regulates a number of body processes and can cause severe health problems if left unchecked. Naturally, negative emotions increase blood pressure and stress hormones, increasing the risk of disease and leaving the body worn out.
Thankfully, positive emotions can reverse the emotional and health effects of stress and negativity. In fact, they can build you back stronger. Making positivity a habitual mindset will help you rebound faster from hardships. You will also be calmer and more optimistic through tough circumstances because you can see that every situation evolves you into a better version of yourself.
A study by the University of Michigan found that a leader’s positivity will help their employees be more committed and efficient. Even when they weren’t in the office, the workers’ lives were impacted. At home, for example, they were happier and more content. This is an excellent example of how the people in our lives influence us. Anyone from a boss to a friend or family member can have a positive or negative effect.
Now that we understand how powerful our habits can be, let’s study how to get rid of the bad ones and replace them with good. Psychologists have developed several different techniques, but I like this simplistic method from New York Times bestselling author, James Clear. I find that easier methods are easier for us to use. He says that we can build good habits through four laws of behavior change and break bad ones simply by reversing the laws.
To create good habits, you have to be aware of what you want to change. Most of our habits are automatic responses that we’re completely unaware of. It helps to make a list of your habits so you can understand what you’re doing and how you want to change them. Once you have the list, you can set up cues in your environment to remind you. For example, if you want to start working out every morning, set out your workout clothes the night before so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up.
Contrastingly, to break a habit, you must eliminate all traces of it from your environment. If you want to stop eating junk food, throw it all away and don’t buy it anymore.
Habits are so much easier to keep if you can reward yourself for doing them. If the reward is something you’re genuinely excited about, you can motivate your actions with a dopamine-driven feedback loop. This loop is the basis of all habits and links your action to a pleasurable outcome. If you wanted to motivate yourself to do more cardio, for example, you could make sure to only watch your favorite show when you got on the treadmill.
To make your habit unappealing, first, realize your bad habit is based on negative emotions. For example, if we are stressed, we engage in emotional eating. If we can identify that the source of our bad habit is a negative emotion, we can make it less attractive.
Generally, we prefer to make decisions that are easier or efficient. To stick to your new habit, you need to make sure it falls into these categories. For example, if you’ve decided you want to exercise more, choose a fitness center closest to your work or home. If you can reduce the upheaval that introducing a new habit causes, you’ll be more likely to adopt it.
If your habit becomes extremely hard to keep, you will eventually lose interest in maintaining it. Since humans generally follow the Law of Least Effort, we like to choose easier paths. If we can make our habit more difficult, we can break it! For example, if you find yourself using your phone too much, turn it off or leave it in a different part of your house. That way you would have to turn it on or get up to get it every time you want to check it out.
Feeling a sense of achievement is also important. Find a way to track whether or not you did your habit, such as marking each day on your calendar. When you look back at your week, you will feel very accomplished. As we mentioned before, rewards also add to habit satisfaction. The only thing to be cautious of when coming up with your reward is to make sure you choose ones that support your habit. For example, rewarding yourself with junk food wouldn’t make sense if you’re trying to change your diet.
Just as rewards cause satisfaction, punishments cause dissatisfaction. If you really want to break a habit, you should use an accountability partner to immediately enforce a penalty. If you fall into old habits, have them take away activities you enjoy the most.
Every thought, action, and interaction requires energy. If you have negative thoughts, actions, and interactions, you’ll feel drained and purposeless. You must form healthy habits and cut negativity out of your life if you want to conserve your energy, be happy, and be successful. With these tips and tricks, you can transform your life for the better, starting today!