All jokes aside, there are cryptic energy drainers all around us. I’m not talking about emotional vampires (although those are seriously draining!). Nor am I referring to taxing workloads or giant to-do lists. I’m talking about small things in our day-to-day—from habits to inefficient products to environmental issues—that tug at our energy reserves without our knowing. These energy drainers are cumulative and depleting, 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 consider the energetic tax of something, be it a social gathering or even how a pair of jeans feel, I expand what’s possible in my day. Rather than measuring everything in time, this approach allows me to consider how activities leave me feeling: Am I energized or depleted after this? Happily tired or wiped out? It also helps me see the energy drainers—old and new—that run rampant.
Feature image by Michelle Nash.
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Four Energy Drainers to Rid from Your Life
Of course, it’s impossible to police every activity and thing. We must work and take care of ourselves and our loved ones. Life itself can be draining. But this is more reason to rid those small things that are zapping us, straight from the roots.
I have found these four culprits to be the biggest (and most universal) energy drainers. Tweaking these has left me with more energy—and feeling healthier than ever.
#1: Blue Light
Blue light has come into focus over the past decade, given the death-grip of our screens, laptops, and TV has on us. One of the colors on 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 damaging to the retina.
I knew about this, yet I didn’t grasp how real the effects can be until I started suffering from extreme eye fatigue (and occasional headaches) at the end of the day. Per a friend’s suggestion, I investigated glasses that filter blue light—and this has singlehandedly changed my day for the better. They work by filtering most of the blue light before it gets to your eyes.
I’ve found there to be a schism in the medical world—those who believe in blue light glasses and those who think they’re a fallacy. Given how they’ve eradicated my end-of-day eye fatigue and headaches, I am a believer. (Plus, further research suggests blue light-blocking glasses may also help with poor-quality sleep and moodiness.)
It took a dance class to prove this to me. After several weeks, I started noticing that my legs and feet were becoming exceptionally tired. The same was happening after a short walk with my pup and a jaunt to the store. What was the deal? After some careful investigating (love you, google!), I came to learn that I was wearing all the wrong shoes at all the wrong times. (I soon after sought medical expertise to back my self-prescription.) I was putting on old unsupportive sneakers to dance in and choosing my favorite oxfords to walk around my neighborhood, not realizing these poor choices were causing me to exert myself.
Wearing the wrong footwear can lead to foot, ankle, and leg issues, while it can also slowly chip away at energy levels because your body is trying to compensate. On the other end of the spectrum, research out of Harvard shows that some shoes require too little work from the feet, resulting in another host of issues. The gist here is that we need to pay more attention to what we put on some of the hardest working parts of our bodies.
It may just be the health topic of the decade. Research shows that 75 percent of us—75 percent!—are dehydrated. That’s wild. The effects of dehydration are egregious, ranging from light-headedness and dry mouth to fatigue and immobility. On the days when I forget to sip continuously, I feel sluggish and aggravated.
But the issue here isn’t just that we need to drink more water (and we do). It’s that we need to hydrate more effectively. When we become dehydrated, we lack the minerals—magnesium, potassium, chloride, and others—essential 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 toward micronutrients and minerals that bolster our immune system. Williams recommends small daily hacks like including a pinch of sea salt or aloe vera juice in your water to “prime your body” to stay optimally hydrated and healthy. Looking for a sugar-free electrolyte mix is also key, as is a water bottle to always keep at your desk.
Following years of my mother telling me to clean my room, I’m finally embracing the need to keep a clean and tidy home. Because doing so is more than what it offers the eyes. Living clutter-free is a requisite for good health. Study upon study illustrates the link between an organized space and reduced stress, better energy, and greater productivity. Alternatively, disorganization can result in lethargy and reduced optimism. (It goes without saying that searching for misplaced things is a huge energy drainer.)
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 down, 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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