Do you ever wake up somehow feeling more tired than when you went to bed? Or maybe you can’t ever seem to find the energy to do things you want or need to do. In these times of uncertainty, I’m sure many of us have felt exhausted for seemingly no reason. However, exhaustion doesn’t only come from strenuous activities; rather, it can come from any and everything you do. There are many little habits that you might not even be aware you have that drain your energy. They’re normal, seemingly small patterns that most of us probably do, but they can have many unknown negative effects. Curious to know what these routines you may be doing are? Here are 8 habits that drain your energy.
1. Looking on the negative side of life
We all need to vent from time to time, and sometimes, a good vent can really help you. However, if you’re constantly looking for things to complain about and being negative, then chances are you’re only bringing yourself down. Studies from the University of Concordia have shown that optimists are better able to regulate their sympathetic nervous system, which accelerates your heart rate, constricts your blood vessels and raises your blood pressure. In short, optimists are better able to handle stressful situations, whereas pessimists struggle to regulate their sympathetic nervous system leaving them stressed and anxious for long periods of time. This means they end up feeling exhausted and tired due to constantly focusing on the negatives in their life. Instead, focus on being grateful for what you have and positive when facing adversity.
All of us have likely stayed up late running various what-ifs and worse case scenarios. It can be very easy to overthink various interactions, past moments, and future problems, which may lead you into a never-ending negative thought spiral. According to Laura Price, a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, “mental energy without any sort of physical outlet absolutely can make it fatiguing and make it feel like you’re exhausted because you spent so much time in your own head,” David Spiegel, the director of the Center on Stress and Health at Stanford Health Care, added that when you often overthink and stress yourself out, your body produces cortisol, the stress hormone. Over time, the constant release of cortisol can be depleting and cause burnout. Of course, overthinking is a normal, human thing to do. However, excessive overthinking may leave you drained, anxious, and distressed, so next time you find yourself up late overanalyzing any and everything, try to save your energy.
If you’re interested in the other negative effects of overthinking, check out another Psych2Go article all about it complete with studies and references!
3. Living in the past
As cliché as it sounds, the past is the past, and there’s nothing we can do to change it. Yet, more often than not, we find ourselves replaying, thinking of ways to change, and regretting the past. Living in the past takes your focus off what you can change, the present and your future. Like overthinking, mental energy without an outlet or way to cope can make you feel exhausted and stressed due to spending so much time in your head. Perhaps journaling your thoughts, doing yoga, or meditating would be a good way to cope with your past.
4. Associating with negative people and drama
Have you ever felt drained after spending time with a friend? Whether it be because they would only talk about themselves or verbally bring you down, people who drain your energy are ultimately not good for you to be around. They can bring unnecessary drama into your life and make you feel as if it’s your job to please them. However, the bottom line is being around people who don’t make you feel supported, happy, and comfortable will leave you anxious and exhausted. You don’t have to feel bad for trying to distance yourself from negative people since you’re taking care of how you feel and yourself as a whole, which is very important.
5. Using social media to bring you down
In our day and age, social media is a great way to stay connected and entertained. However, there is a huge difference between using it as a way to gain inspiration, affirmation, and new connections and using it to compare yourself to others. It can be easy to compare your lifestyle, body, achievements, and more to other people’s, but the bottom line is that comparing yourself to snapshots of someone else’s greatest highlights and achievements isn’t healthy. Especially considering most people only put the best, most aesthetically pleasing, and ultimately unrealistic versions of themselves online. This can make you feel like you’re not good enough or that your life doesn’t amount to as much as someone else’s, but that is, of course, not the case. If you do find yourself feeling like that, you may want to consider taking some time off or cutting back on your social media use. You could limit the amount of time you spend on social media every day by setting a timer, or you could fill your newsfeed with only things that make you genuinely happy to see.
6. Having a poor diet
Eating tons of junk and comfort food may taste good and feel good in the moment, but it can leave you feeling tired and even worse than before in the longer run. Of course, junk food in moderation is fine, because after all, no one can be expected to eat healthy 24/7. However, a constantly bad diet lacking in water, nutrients, vitamins, or fruits and vegetables, can leave you feeling bloated and unhealthy. According to a study by Harvard Medical School, Diets high in refined sugars, for example, worsen your body’s regulation of insulin, they also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and lessening the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin. Now, we’re not saying by eating a few cookies, you’re going to feel a million times worse, but by continuously eating poorly, you might notice your energy decreasing.
7. Not exercising
As contradictory as it sounds, not exercising actually drains your energy more than exercising. You have probably heard all about the benefits of exercising millions of times before, but if you’d like to hear more about them, the Mayo Clinic describes them in great depth in their article about fitness. Besides the obvious health benefits, exercise increases your energy as well. The University of Georgia did a study with 6,807 participants and 70 randomized trials and found that more than 90 percent of the participants who completed a regular exercise routine reported reduced fatigue and higher energy levels compared to not exercising. This, along with exercise’s obvious health benefits, means everyone, no matter your age, fitness level, or any other factor, can benefit from exercising!
8. Having an unhealthy sleep schedule
Whether it be sleeping too little, sleeping too much, or staying up really late only to sleep into the afternoon, having an irregular sleep schedule isn’t good for you. In their study, the University of Pennsylvania found that subjects limited to 4.5 hours of sleep per night reported feeling more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. Similarly, sleeping too much can lead to lethargy, excess drowsiness, and in some cases, depression. The bottom line is messing with your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep, can lead to feeling tired all the time regardless of how much sleep you’re really getting.
All these habits are things that every one of us does from time to time, but when it gets to the point of you feeling exhausted and drained, it’s probably time to take some action. Of course, changing all these things will be hard and won’t happen all at once. You might want to focus on one at a time and go slow and steady. As long as you’re trying, you’re making progress towards changing these habits.
Do you do any of these things? Or maybe you’ve been feeling drained and were wondering why, did this help you? Comment down below with your thoughts and experiences!
Bergland, Christopher. “Optimism Stabilizes Cortisol Levels and Lowers Stress.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 24 July 2013, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201307/optimism-stabilizes-cortisol-levels-and-lowers-stress.
Ries, Julia. “Here’s What Happens To Your Body When You Overthink.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 6 Feb. 2020, www.huffpost.com/entry/overthinking-effects_l_5dd2bd67e4b0d2e79f90fe1b?guccounter=1.
Selhub, Eva. “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food.” Harvard Health Blog, 31 Mar. 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626.
University, Concordia. “Optimists Are Better at Regulating Stress.” Concordia University, 23 July 2013, www.concordia.ca/cunews/main/releases/2013/07/23/optimists-better-at-regulating-stress.html.
University, Georgia. “Regular Exercise Plays A Consistent And Significant Role In Reducing Fatigue.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 8 Nov. 2006, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061101151005.htm.
University, Harvard. “Sleep and Mood.” Sleep and Mood | Need Sleep, 15 Dec. 2008, healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood.