Feeling waves of low energy lately? You’re not alone. Whether it’s from stress, changes in work schedules, or just feeling that afternoon energy slump, your daily habits may play a role in your overall energy levels.
Ahead, more on some of the daily habits that may be zapping your energy levels, plus some simple tips to regain that pep in your step.
4 Daily Habits That May Cause Low Energy
#1 Drinking Too Much Caffeine
Are you one of those people who wakes up, and the first thing on your to-do list is that aromatic pot of coffee? You’re not alone. Coffee is the second most consumed beverage in the world, only second to water. And that cup of Joe is a beautiful thing, in moderation, because it provides us an, oftentimes, much-needed energy boost. But caffeine, which is also found in energy drinks, teas, sodas, and even dark chocolate, is a tricky thing — it can actually be the cause of low energy.
Studies explain it only takes 45 minutes for caffeine to be absorbed into our body, which explains the rapid boost in energy. But a special, or not so special, thing happens when we have the stimulant too late in the day. We can crash.A chemical in our brain called adenosine affects our sleep-wake cycle, and it binds to receptors in our brains that prepare us for sleep. However, when caffeine is present in our bodies, the adenosine receptors bind to them instead, which tricks the brain and causes a spike in energy. Then, once the caffeine wears off, adenosine can connect to the receptors and thus a sudden depletion in our energy levels.
#2 Overdosing on Screentime
Do you ever find yourself scrolling through social media right before bed? Unfortunately, that seemingly harmless little habit could be the cause of low energy. Screens — from our smartphones to our TVs — suppress the production of melatonin (aka the hormone that’s responsible for helping us feel tired) because they emit something called blue light. And that pesky light can decrease the amount of time we spend in REM sleep, a period of rest critical for our cognitive function.
Beyond our beds, staring at a screen causes eye strain. Because our eyes work harder to keep tiny pixels in focus, they then dry out and become tired. Ever notice how you might blink less when you’re looking at your phone? Luckily, aside from limiting screen time, there are some other ways to help those eyes out.
#3 Eating Processed Foods
Food is supposed to fuel our bodies and give us energy, so we avoid being hangry all the time. But not all food is created equal. As a matter of fact, certain ones drain the energy right out of us. The culprit is oftentimes processed foods. They contain fewer nutrients, which means less energy for our bodies. So, while they provide a temporary spike in energy, they end up causing low energy later.
The first thing people think of when they hear the word “processed” is “fast foods,” which is true, but it’s also refined sugars. When a food has too much sugar, it’s oftentimes missing the necessary fiber. And more sugar leads to a craving for more sugar later on. Hence, a vicious cycle.
#4 Creating Unnecessary Stress
Have you heard about the stress hormone we love to hate, cortisol? It has numerous functions in the body and plays a role in immune system regulation, metabolism, our inflammatory response, and it’s most commonly known for the role it plays in our body’s stress response.
And while we need a certain amount of cortisol, it’s when we’re chronically stressed that it may become problematic. Today, it seems we’re stressed all the time. And, when our cortisol levels are too high, we may notice that bout of mid-day low energy.
In the broader sense of the term, cutting out negative people or even negative ideas from our lives can drastically improve our mood, which improves our energy. But in the nitty-gritty sense, when you literally clean up your home or office, you can physically create more energy. Less stuff means more space, which looks neater and creates a sense of openness.
How to Boost My Energy Levels
If you find that those daily cups of coffee end up causing an energy crash later in the day, consider limiting the amount of caffeine you consume and swap it out with a mug of herbal tea or lemon water.
If you do drink coffee, try to stop all caffeine consumption at least six hours before sleep to help prevent it from interfering with your sleep.
Cut Back on Screen Time
Too much screen time zapping your energy? Try taking frequent breaks, especially if you work on a computer all day. Get up and stretch or even get out for a brisk walk. Also, consider decreasing nighttime computer, phone, tablet, and TV use. If you must use electronics before bed, consider blue light blocking classes, or set your phone to night-mode and try limiting it at least an hour or two before lights out.
Enjoy Energy-Boosting Foods
Nutrition is everything when it comes to finding natural ways to boost energy! Try eating whole foods that will help keep your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day. Start by looking at your breakfast. Are you starting your day with a balanced meal with enough protein? Try swapping things like cereal for rolled oats, chia seeds, and berries, or whole-grain toast with mashed avocado and eggs.
When choosing your mid-day snacks, reach for food combos that contain protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Something like a cup of unsweetened Greek yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey is great, or try hummus with sliced veggies and a hard-boiled egg.
Cut Back on Unnecessary Stress
Stress is an energy-depleter, and while we can’t avoid all sources of stress in our lives, there are things we can do to help control it. If your workspace is cluttered, consider decluttering it. Also, take a look at the boundaries you have in your life. Do you constantly say yes to everything, leaving little time to take care of yourself? What about doing things that make you happy? If you need to do more of that, do it! Reducing stress is so important for boosting energy.
And, don’t forget about the stress and energy-boosting benefits of exercise! Try to move your body daily, and switch things up. Browse the various workout categories in the FitOn app to find workouts that energize you and on your rest days, try going for a brisk walk or doing some stretching. Just get moving — it makes a big difference.
Everything In Moderation
Don’t get us wrong. We love our coffee, social media, and the occasional sweet treat. And cutting out any of these things entirely won’t magically change our energy levels. But when we make small adjustments to our day, we can moderately reduce those bouts of low energy. Everything in moderation!