All jokes aside, there are cryptic energy drainers all around us. I’m not talking about emotional vampires (although they are seriously draining!). I’m not referring to either taxing workloads or huge to-do lists. I’m talking about small things in our daily lives – from habits to inefficient products to environmental issues – that draw on our energy reserves without us knowing it. These energy drains are cumulative and exhausting, akin to a ceiling drip filling a bucket.
Before we get to these, a little background: One of the most profound shifts I’ve made in my recent life is paying attention to my energy. When I think about the energetic treasure of something, whether it’s a social gathering or even how a pair of jeans feels, I expand what’s possible in my time. Instead of measuring everything in time, this approach allows me to consider how activities make me feel: Am I energized or drained after this? Happily tired or obliterated? It also helps me see the energy drains – old and new – that are running amok.
Feature photo by Michelle Nash.
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Four energy drainers to get rid of in your life
Of course, it is impossible to monitor every activity and thing. We have to work and take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Life itself can be draining. But this is all the more reason to get rid of the little things that zap us, right from the roots.
I’ve found these four culprits to be the biggest (and most universal) energy drainers. Adapting these has left me with more energy – and feeling healthier than ever.
#1: Blue light
Blue light has come into focus over the last decade, given the death grip our screens, laptops and televisions have on us. One of the colors of the visible spectrum, blue light has a shorter wavelength than the other colors, yet a higher concentration of energy. Research has shown that prolonged exposure to it can be potentially harmful to the retina.
I knew about this, but I didn’t realize how real the effects can be until I started suffering from extreme eye fatigue (and the occasional headache) at the end of the day. At a friend’s suggestion, I looked into glasses that filter blue light – and this has single-handedly changed my day for the better. They work by filtering most of the blue light before it reaches your eyes.
I have found that there is a schism in the medical world – those who believe in blue light glasses and those who think they are a fallacy. Considering how they’ve eradicated my eye fatigue and end-of-day headaches, I’m a believer. (Plus, additional research suggests that blue light-blocking glasses can help, too poor sleep quality and mood.)
It took a dance class to prove this to me. After several weeks, I began to notice that my legs and feet were becoming unusually tired. The same thing happened after a short walk with my puppy and a trip to the store. What was the deal? After some careful research (love you, Google!), I found that I was wearing the wrong shoes at all the wrong times. (I soon sought medical expertise to support my self-prescription.) I wore old non-supportive sneakers to dance in and chose my favorite oxfords to walk around my neighborhood, not realizing that these poor choices were causing me to strain me.
Wearing the wrong footwear can lead to foot, ankle and leg problems, while it can also slowly chip away at energy levels as your body tries to compensate. At the other end of the spectrum, research from Harvard shows that some shoes require too little work from the feet, resulting in yet another series of problems. The bottom line here is that we need to be more mindful of what we put on some of the hardest working parts of our body.
It might just be the health topic of the decade. Research shows that 75 percent of us – 75 percent!are dehydrated. It’s wild. That effects of dehydration are severe, ranging from dizziness and dry mouth to fatigue and immobility. On the days I forget to sip constantly, I feel sluggish and aggravated.
But the problem here is not just that we should drink more water (and we do). It is that we need to hydrate more effectively. When we become dehydrated, we lack the minerals – magnesium, potassium, chloride and others – that are necessary for proper organ function. Jayne Williams, a brilliant nutritionist, spells it out for us: “Hydration with benefits is more important than basic water,” she says, pointing to micronutrients and minerals that strengthen our immune system. Williams recommends small daily hacks like including a pinch of sea salt or aloe vera juice in your water to “prepare your body” to stay optimally hydrated and healthy. Looking for a sugar-free electrolyte mix is also key, like a water bottle to always have at your desk.
After years of my mom asking me to clean my room, I finally embrace the need to keep a clean and tidy home. Because there is more than meets the eye. Living clutter-free is a prerequisite for good health. Study upon study illustrates the connection between an organized space and reduced stress, better energy and greater productivity. Alternatively, disorganization can result in lethargy and decreased optimism. (It goes without saying that searching for misplaced things is a huge energy drain.)
I remind myself of these latter facts when I don’t feel like cleaning. It’s for my health. I also love Shira Gill’s advice: Don’t put it off, Put it away. In other words: Give everything in your home a place. It’s another small step that can lead to a huge impact on energy levels.
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