energy

It’s 8:00 pm and you feel like you have been run over by a Mack truck. You had a decent amount of sleep the night before, ate pretty well and don’t have a cold, so what gives? Why are you so exhausted at the end of the day?

Watch out for these sneaky energy stealers that can steal away your zest and drive!

1. Change of Season. All of a sudden the evenings are darker and colder, and along with the graying of the weather can come the muddling of your mood. Our internal clocks are set along with the sun, so when it starts going down earlier and earlier in the evening, humans start feeling more tired and lethargic than normal.

Tip: When cooler weather strikes, resist the urge to pile up on high-fat, high-carb comfort foods and instead up your intake of lean protein and vitamin C.

2. Emotional Vampires. Emotions are contagious, and some people just seem to suck the energy right out of you and leave you in a wake of exhaustion, wondering what happened to your good mood.

Tip: Learn to identify emotional vampires in your life and reduce time spent with them as much as possible. You don’t need friends who constantly bring you down.

3. Bad Sleep. You slept for about eight hours, but did you get into that blissful state of REM that offers dreams and true rest? If you are waking up often at night or tossing and turning for hours, your body is not getting the rest it requires.

Tip: Make sure your bedroom is completely dark by covering bright clock lights. Kick the dog out of bed (sorry!) and break your snooze button habit for the most restful night of sleep.

4. Sugar. Refined sugar is an evil friend, giving you a burst of energy along with that deliciously sweet taste – but then crashing your system a short while later. You know to look out for sugar in donuts, cookies and muffins, but it lurks in many other commercially prepared foods as well, from ketchup and salad dressing to breads and pasta sauces.

Tip: Read labels so you know what you are putting in your body. Cutting out sugar completely may not be possible for everyone, but being aware of different foods’ sugar contents will enable you to better ration your intake.

5. Your Mind. Do you think of yourself as usually tired and easily exhausted, with a small energy store that runs out quickly? Then you will be usually tired and easily exhausted, with a small energy store that runs out quickly. Change your mind and change your life.

Tip: Every morning and several times throughout the day, repeat the mantra: “I am full of energy” – and prepare to be amazed at what a little positive self-talk can accomplish. Seriously. 

6. Superfluous Media. We love Facebook as much as the next, and some online media can be great (stay informed!). But when you tool around online longer than you intend to (and who doesn’t?), you can often feel like you have been busy, even working – although you have produced nothing and your only efforts have been to tend your fake crops or catch up on celebrity gossip. You feel exhausted, even though you haven’t moved in two hours.

Tip: Realize that being “busy” and being “productive” are two very different things that you must not mix up. Set a timer for your online activity and stick to it.

7. Not Enough Play. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but in America this sort of attitude often makes people successful – judging by their bank accounts, anyway. However, if you are going through life with your nose to the grindstone without ever picking it up to remember why you are here in the first place, you will have nothing to replete your energy stores. When was the last time you couldn’t stop laughing? Or ran through the rain just for fun? Danced like a monkey in your living room? Play is not just something for the kiddos, but rather an integral part of human life that you need more of, stat.

Tip: What do you love to do that makes the hours fly by without even noticing? Schedule a play date with yourself, or even take a day off to have fun – and watch your energy level skyrocket upon your return to work.

image: Angelo Gonzalez