Lacking energy seems to be a national epidemic. Despite advances in modern technology that allow us to do things quicker and easier than ever before, we’re the most exhausted we’ve ever been! Sometimes, the causes of low energy are more sinister than lack of sleep (although that’s certainty something that can contribute). Here’s 10 reasons you have no energy and how you can fix them!
10. You’re not drinking enough water
Drinking enough water and staying sufficiently hydrated is one of the best lifestyle changes we can make to positively effect our health…..and our energy! Even mild dehydration can have adverse effects on your mood, energy and concentration levels. Water affects almost every physiological and physical process we do and without it, we risk leaving ourselves feeling run-down and exhausted. Aim to drink at least 1.5 litres of water every day, even more so on days where you’re physically active.
The urine test is a quick and easy way to monitor your hydration levels. If it’s dark yellow in colour, you’re already dehydrated and you need bump up your water intake.
9. You’re eating too much sugar
While you may immediately put the blame on the obvious culprits; sweets, cakes and chocolate, many refined carbohydrates like white breads, bagels, potatoes and even some fruits are major sugar sources too. Simple, refined carbs are made up of a very simplistic molecule structure and are digested and used by the body very quickly. When the sugar is depleted, your blood sugar levels come crashing back down, leaving us feeling fatigued and sluggish. Aim to consume healthy, whole, fibre-filled carbs and grains that will provide your body with a lasting energy boost.
8. You don’t get enough exercise
This one may seem a little counter-intuitive at first. After all, surely the physical act of exercise is going to make you exhausted? The short answer: no.
Exercise and physical activity releases mood-enhancing hormones and chemicals that help make us feel good and give us a boost of energy. Studies consistently highlight that people who exercise frequently have more energy and suffer with less stress-related symptoms than those who are sedentary. If you’re not currently following a structured, regular exercise plan, you can jump-start with activities as simple as walking or cycling. You may also want to check out these 8 ways to sneak fitness into your day for even more ways to make your day more active!
7. You’re sitting down too much
Following on from our previous point, sitting down too much is not only harmful to our posture, it’s also a major energy zapper as well. Our bodies have not been designed to sit in uncomfortable positions, especially not for hours at a time! Prolonged periods of sitting will drain energy and focus as the oxygen being delivered around your body decreases. Even just 2-3 minutes’ of moving can help get your blood circulating again and send more oxygen to your brain to perk you up and make you more alert.
6. You’re drinking too much caffeine
In its rawest form, caffeine is a drug, a stimulant that can quickly give you a jolt in energy, focus and concentration. In moderation, caffeine can provide you with the mental stimulation you need to handle everyday tasks and activities. However, caffeine can also leave you crashing soon after you consume too much. That “crash” can leave you worn-down, tired and unfocused. Caffeine can also affect your sleep quality if it’s ingested late in the day. Caffeine can be hiding in a lot of different sources so make sure you read the labels before you commit to chugging it down. Aim to avoid diet drinks altogether as their concoction of chemicals makes them a health nightmare and try and keep coffee to no more than 2 cups a day.
5. You’re not sleeping enough
Although you’d think this is the most obvious reason for a lack of energy, sleep is more-often-than-not one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to energy. Sleep isn’t just a critical component in the rest and recovery process that occurs after exercise, it’s also vital for our overall health and well-being. Sleep also plays a role in the production and regulation of human growth hormone, responsible for making our bones healthy, muscle growth, brain function, reducing depression and decreasing fatigue. HGH is secreted primarily in deep sleep, so 7 to 8 hours of good quality sleep is imperative if we want to look and feel our best.
4. You’ve got a poor diet
We are what we eat! You get exactly what you put into your body: put low-quality, junk food into your body and that’s exactly how you’re going to feel. Our nutrition is the key to a healthier, more enriched lifestyle so it’s important we stay on top of and choose only to nourish our bodies with good quality, nutritious foods. Failing to do so can leave you lacking essential vitamins and minerals which could leave you feeling run-down. Different coloured fruit and vegetables contain different vitamins and minerals so it’s important to get an abundance of both to really get the benefits! The general rule of thumb: the more colour you can get onto your plate, the better.
3. You may be depressed
If you find that your fatigue is piggybacked by emotional eating, negative emotional feelings and a sense of loneliness, you may be depressed. If you suspect that you may be suffering with depression, you should seek the advice and support of your doctor or medical professional. Try and eliminate general stresses quickly before they manifest into full-blown problems that will only further negatively impact your condition. Treatment plans may include counselling, therapy or prescribed medications.
2. You’re stressed
We all deal with stress on a daily basis, some worse than others and although it may seem like it’s the stress itself that’s causing fatigue, it’s normally the emotional baggage that comes with it. A little stress is completely natural, chronic stress related symptoms however, can cause physical and mental strains on our being. When your mind becomes saturated with work stress, deadlines, meetings, difficult co-workers, bills, debts etc, we get to a state of “learned helplessness”. This is a state where you’ve become so deeply immersed into your everyday stresses that you feel almost paralysed to take action – making you feel helpless and fatigued. It’s really important that we manage our stress as best we can. There’s a couple of conventional tools and strategies you can use to alleviate symptoms of stress: exercise and medication spring to mind here. However, mind-fullness, meditation, deep breathing and positive thinking can be hugely powerful tools in the fight against stress – if you give them a chance!
1. You’re over-training
Sometimes, the “no pain, no gain” mentality isn’t always the best approach to exercise and if we’re pushing it too hard, we find ourselves run-down and under-recovered. If you’re exercising (whether it’s running, weights etc), then you need sufficient rest to allow your body the time it needs to recover. If you start feeling physically exhausted, run-down, fatigued and having problems sleeping, then you ARE pushing it too hard. Your body requires a minimal amount of good-quality rest after physical activity and if its needs aren’t met, it’s certainly going to let you know about. Don’t do yourself more harm than good by training too much and resting too little. Find a balance that complements your lifestyle giving you the sufficient recovery you need whilst still pushing you towards your goals.