5 Common Things Draining Your Energy and How to Prevent Them
Forming healthy self-care habits is one of the biggest ways to make your energy soar, helping you to achieve your goals, stay happy, and have an overflow of good vibes to share with the people and projects you care about. “Your energy determines both your productivity and the quality of your output,” agrees Master Certified life coach Kara Loewentheil. “Learning how to create, maintain, and use your energy effectively is crucial to success and to happiness.”
But before looking outside yourself to scan your lifestyle, schedule, and social circle for energy vampires or toxic relationships, Loewentheil proposes doing something different: Get a grip on your own thoughts. “The most draining thing in the world is being emotionally reactive to everything that happens around you,” she explains. “Whether you go to cognitive-based therapy, meditate, or, my personal favorite, learn how to coach yourself to manage your mind, creating more mental and emotional resilience is the most empowering thing you can do and the best way to create and sustain your energy over time.” She’s shared with us five common energy drains — along with how to fix them.
1. Anxiety and Worry: “There’s a saying that worry only pretends to be useful, and that’s totally true,” Loewentheil asserts. “Your brain can’t tell the difference between the present and the future, so it thinks that worrying about the future is somehow protecting you in the present — but it’s not. It just makes you experience the thing you fear over and over, and it’s exhausting.”
How to Fix It: Coming back to the present is the key, so pick a mantra that reminds you of the here and now. “Something like ‘I am safe right now’ or ‘I have everything I need in this moment’ is a good starting place,” advises Loewentheil. Recite or write out your mantra when you start losing focus on what’s in front of you.
2. Social Media: Sticky social media apps like Facebook and Instagram were designed to hook you, keeping you scrolling with quick rushes of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in your brain. Social media can also be toxic, selling you stuff you don’t need or leaving you to compare your reality to someone else’s fantasy. “Studies show that social media decreases your satisfaction with your own life and it makes it harder for you to concentrate or focus over time,” Loewentheil tells us. “Few people actually feel energized after staring at a scrolling feed for 20 minutes.”
How to Fix It: If your feed has you feeling down or drained, it might be time for a short break from social media. If dinging and flashy notifications from apps are distracting you from your goals, consider putting your phone on Do Not Disturb, changing your notification preferences, or turning off your phone entirely for a short time. “Turn off your phone,” Loewentheil agrees. “Go 10 whole minutes without looking at it. You’ll be horrified by how hard that seems at first but amazed at how much you can get done if you stick with it.” A few more tips: Put your phone away when you’re with other people, don’t scroll in front of your computer or TV, and only get on social media when you really want to focus on social media. “Pay attention to how you feel,” Loewentheil adds.
3. Insecurity: Loewentheil says that fear-based insecurities can leave you feeling exhausted. “Whether you are afraid that whatever you’re working [on] won’t be good enough, you’re afraid that the people you’re going to hang out with don’t like you, or you’re afraid you won’t keep up in spin class, it doesn’t matter,” she encourages.
How to Fix It: Work on boosting your self-confidence with concrete techniques and practices. Chart your progress and struggles so you can identify problem areas and see how you keep improving over time.
4. Multitasking: Have a habit of flitting back and forth between one thing and another? Loewentheil says she believes multitasking is a lie: “This your brain’s way of distracting itself on the regular. Studies show it can take between 20 minutes and two hours to get back on track once you’ve checked your email or looked at a text message. Your brain never gets to fully engage or enter a state of deep flow, and you end up feeling drained without producing much of anything.”
How to Fix It: Tap into a new schedule that accommodates a bunch of different types of tasks, and practice doing one thing at a time. “Set up specific times to check your phone and email, and sign out of programs like Slack that interrupt you when you have time set aside to focus on work,” suggests Loewentheil. “Start by working for a solid 20 minutes, and build from there.”
5. Disorganization: Clutter, chaos, or a general lack of organization can send your brain into overdrive too. “If you are working off a general to-do list, or, worse, keeping everything in your head, you’ll feel distracted and drained.”
How to Fix It: “Write down everything — and I mean everything,” Loewentheil says. “Professional, personal, whatever. Get it all out on paper, and then calendar what you’re doing. Repeat this process once a day or so, building out the calendar over time as more to-dos come up and get added. Once you know exactly when you’re going to do everything and have it all in one place, your body can stop draining your mental energy trying to keep track of everything.”
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