This is a list of 9 habits that drain your energy quietly.
By addressing these habits myself I found that I have more energy, I don’t feel stiff after a day of sitting, and I can concentrate better. Moreover, I’m more efficient at my work because I work on an organized computer in a neat environment.
When it comes to habits that drain your energy, I believe, it’s the same as with spending money. If you want to save, it’s easiest not to spend in the first place.
In this blog, I share 9 habits that were draining my energy. And the solutions I found for them.
- Continues Lack of Sleep
- Maintaining a Bad Posture
- Being in a Negative Environment
- Not Drinking Enough Water
- Making Poor Diet Choices
- Lack of Priorities
- Keeping Your Desktop Full of Icons
- Working in an Unorganized Environment
- Checking E-mail
- General FAQ
1. Continues Lack of Sleep
Sleep is important. A full 7-9 hours of sleep each night will maintain your energy levels throughout the day. But, what happens when you sleep less?
The symptoms you might experience are lethargy, hunger attacks, reduced focus, and mood swings.
Most importantly, you want to go to bed early the night after. That’s great because it means you noticed your lack of sleep. But what if you don’t notice your lack of sleep? What if you’re consistently sleeping less than 7 hours a night?
You consider your state of being as normal. And you don’t notice your fatigue anymore.
That’s when it’s trouble.
Now, you think you are someone that is distracted, drinks a lot of coffee and has an increased taste for sweetness. Which in reality, is your body responding to a lack of energy.
Of all the habits that drain your energy, changing this one will have the biggest impact. Within weeks your mood and hunger stabilize, you have energy, and you can focus better.
To get into a healthy sleep rhythm it’s important you go to bed and to get up at the same time. Every day. The best way to do this is to sleep according to your chronotype.
If you don’t know your chronotype, what is the time you need to be at work?
Do you have to be at work at a specific time?
Then, count back 2 hours from the moment you need to get up to be on time. After that, go back another 8 to 8.5 hours. That’s the time you want to be in bed. And finally, count back another hour or 2 to switch off all your devices, reduce the lights in your house, and relax. This way your body will be ready to sleep when you lie down in bed.
Use the free sleep time calculator to calculate your ideal sleep time.
2. Maintaining A Bad Posture
Is bad posture a habit that drains your energy?
A forward bend posture compromises your health. You develop complaints like a stiff neck, a painful lower back, and you wonder how people touch their toes.
That’s not all.
A slouched posture reduces your blood circulation and it inhibits your breathing.
Reduced Blood Flow
When you sit bend forward you use the stretch of the muscles and ligaments of your spine to keep you in position. This means that you’re not actively “tensioning” your muscles which deprives them of blood flow.
Besides that, bad posture also changes the direction of the arteries towards your head. Instead of being straight tubes up to your brain they’re now bent. Which leads to an increase in blood pressure. As a consequence, your heart pumps harder to get the same amount of oxygen into your cerebrum.
Another thing is that your lungs have less space to expand. When you sit straight, or better even, stand up straight, your lungs can stretch to their full capacity. This not only ensures that your breath in large amounts of fresh oxygen, but it also helps you ventilate residual air out of your lungs.
What is residual air?
During normal respiration, there’s a bit of air that remains at the bottom of your longs. This is called residual air. When you run for the bus, sprint up a staircase, or do sports is when you ventilate this air out. However, when you sit or stand in a forward bend posture, this amount increases.
As a result, there’s a higher amount of carbon dioxide in your body which stimulates inspiration. Your body balances the extra carbon dioxide with extra oxygen. Yet, with extra oxygen comes more carbon dioxide as well. A vicious cycle that in extreme cases can lead to hyperventilation.
Do you see how the heart and lungs are closely connected? If the lungs perform less, the heart has to work harder. On top of that, your bad posture compromises your muscles and joints. You’re losing your energy to processes that should give you energy.
The good thing is, the solutions are easy.
- Move every 20-30 minutes (at work, use the bathroom farthest away for example)
- Change between sitting and standing
- Sit up straight (crown of your head above your sacrum). Use the 90/90 Rule: hips in 90 degrees, as well as your knees. Your elbows should rest comfortably on your table.
- Allow yourself some (very) deep breaths every 30 minutes. Focus on exhaling all the air in your lungs. This means that you really need to force at the end.
3. Being In a Negative Environment
A negative environment can result in a significant energy drain.
There are plenty of reasons why someone can be negative. Mostly, they themselves suffer most.
Just like people, an environment can be negative as well. Your workplace doesn’t stimulate you. Your school doesn’t allow you to flourish or a relationship wears you down.
Regardless of the reason someone or something has a negative effect on you, it’s up to you to do something about it. I know this can be difficult because there are often plenty of reasons to not change your habit:
- “Next week will be better because then it’s less busy”
- “My colleague is going through a difficult period”
- “My friend always had a hard time expressing emotions”
There you go. You justified your decision to stay longer in a situation that drains your energy.
Ask yourself: “is this environment, relationship, or person stimulating me to achieve what I want to?”. If the answer is “no”, then it’s best to not be there.
This doesn’t mean you can never be in touch with a negative person or environment. It means you choose to be somewhere else at the times it wears you down.
The benefit of this strategy is that when you are with that person, your awareness and positivity will affect him. However, if you let it wear you down you will reflect her negativity back.
This results in either a vicious circle that creates more negativity. Or in a virtuous circle that creates more positivity.
4. Not Drinking Enough Water
Of all the habits that drain energy, dehydration is the 1 that gets to me most. That’s for two reasons:
- I find it easy to forget to drink
- I don’t always notice my dry mouth
Which means, if I don’t have a bottle of water standing next to me, I forget to drink for hours. I lose focus, I get irritated and I feel restless. As soon as get the idea to drink though, I realize my current state of being was due to dehydration.
Always carry a bottle of water wherever you go. Also, if you work a desk job or spend more time in one place, make sure there’s a bottle of water.
5. Making Poor Diet Choices
Eat healthily and you feel better, look better, and perform better. So, which types of food should you avoid?
Here are three ways food choices drain your energy levels:
Firstly, foods that are rich in processed sugar provoke rapid differences in your blood sugar. Initially, after you eat sugar, your blood sugar rises and you feel energized. But, within 30 minutes it will have dropped below the base-level. And you feel more tired than before you ate your cake, cookie, or supermarket granola.
Secondly, another food-type that reduces your energy levels is saturated fats. These are used in baking, frying, and to give a crunchy taste to your favorite pre-dinner snack. These fats are hard to digest and thus take a lot of energy to process.
Finally, one I’m particularly guilty of: overeating. Good food is amazing. Too much of it though, and all your blood goes to your digestive system. Which leaves you with less focus, motivation, and an after lunch or dinner dip.
When it comes to evading processed sugar and saturated fats the habit of reading labels will go a long way. When I started this habit I felt awkward turning around every package to read the ingredients. Nowadays, it’s a habit. A new product on the shelves? I first turn it around to check what it contains. You can do this too.
And these are three strategies you can use against over-eating:
- Eat slower
- Eat in a calm environment
- Use smaller plates
6. Lack of Priorities: 1 of the Hidden Habits that Drain Your Energy
How do you know what your priorities are?
That what’s most important. Do you know what’s most important to you?
Are your friends important? Is your family important? Is your work important? Are sports important? And is your health important?
If you don’t decide on what’s most important, all decisions after will be hard and drain your energy. Yet, if you know that your family and sports are most important, the answer to your boss’s request to work overtime is simple: “No”.
I understand if you find it hard to make these decisions. As things go, if you decide on the importance of something, you accept that something else is not important. You don’t spend as much time with friends, or you say no more often to your beloved colleagues.
Make a list of all the things that are important in your life. After, give each item a grade between 0 and 10. Where 0 means of no importance at all and 10 means most important. Everything above 9 is your priority. The rest simply isn’t important.
7. Keeping Your Desktop Full of Icons
What does your desktop look like at work? Can you see the beautiful photo that you chose for your background?
If it’s a mess, what’s your reason for leaving it like this?
Each time you are “finding” your folders and documents you lose precious energy. Because the clutter grabs your attention, even when you’re accustomed to it.
Do you think it’s useful to keep everything important on your desktop?
That makes sense in some way but doesn’t “important” mean that there are only a few important things. If there are many, they lose their priority. And you lose your ease of access to the actual important files and documents.
- Delete all files and folders that you don’t need anymore
- Develop a nomenclature system like date-name which looks like 20200302-blog-things-that-drain-energy
- Make folders and give them a name that resembles their contents. Use a number in front of their names to make sure they stay in the same position
- From now on, always put files and folders in their correct location to maintain a clean desktop
- Create one or two links to your most-used folders on your desktop
8. Working in an Unorganized Environment
Do you also think an unorganized environment is a habit that drains your energy?
First, the mess doesn’t bother you. Still, the longer you wait to organize the more energy it takes to tidy-up later. In the meantime, you spend energy looking for your things, you think about where to put new stuff, and eventually, you get annoyed.
- Throw everything you don’t use or haven’t used for over a year away
- Give every item a designated place
- After using something, develop the habit to put it back in its designated place
- Another energy-saving habit: organize your space after each day’s use
9. Checking E-mail
E-mail anxiety is real. You open your mailbox and there are 5, 10, no 20 new e-mails you need to read. Quick, close your inbox and pretend it didn’t happen.
Still, the thought of all those unanswered e-mails keeps your mind occupied. You decide to answer anyway and an hour later you think, what did I want to do again?
Interestingly, most e-mails don’t need a response. Even more so, most e-mails don’t need to be sent.
Which makes it a habit that unnecessarily drains your energy.
Still, the fact that it’s so easy to send an e-mail makes you less inventive. Instead of looking for a solution you send an e-mail and continue with something else. In the time you have to wait for a response, you could have solved the issue yourself.
E-mail is a great way to procrastinate and a huge energy drain.
- Only check e-mails at fixed moments
- Don’t check e-mails in the morning. That’s when you have most energy so it’s better to use it for something difficult and/or important
- Create an e-mail autoresponder which says that you’re unavailable. Try it for a week or two and see what happens. Probably nothing.
Energy is a precious substance, isn’t it? Before you know it it’s gone. And that while you have a limited amount each day. The moment you wake up your battery starts running empty.
Nevertheless, you can influence the habits that drain your energy throughout the day. Use the solutions I mentioned above, or come up with one yourself.
I’m curious if you know other habits that drain your energy? Leave a comment down below and tell me about your solutions.
Habits that Drain Your Energy: General FAQ
Habits are behaviors that you executed so often they became automatic. Like brushing teeth, driving a car, or responding with frustration to negative feedback.
Habits are neither good nor bad. The question is, is a habit effective or not? And this depends on your goal. For example, if you want clean teeth the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day is effective. Yet, the habit of running out the door straight after breakfast might not be. Even though this habit is ineffective for brushing your teeth in the morning, it is effective to arrive at work on time.
Habits that drain focus are habits that force you to make many decisions. For example, checking your e-mail forces you to decide if you are going to read new e-mails, if you will answer them, and if you do; what tone to use and what to say. The same goes for checking your phone, and checking social media.
When someone drains your energy you allow this person to affect your state of being. You can perceive this person as negative, pessimistic, or difficult. The energy drain occurs when you resist the person as he/she is. As a result, you give this person attention either through excessive thought or a behavioral response.
Instead, it’s better to focus on yourself and to understand that the only person you can change is you. Like this you keep your energy for yourself. Focus on your sense of well-being instead of relating it to someone from your environment.