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What’s Zapping Your Energy?

11 surprising things may be draining your energy without you even knowing it.

4. Dehydration

"Most people don't drink enough water," says Scottsdale, Ariz., nutritionist Susan Ayersman of Kronos Optimal Health Center. "We need water to flush out toxins, keep our tissues hydrated, keep our energy up." Water is the perfect no-calorie beverage, and you can dress it up by adding citrus slices or a sprig of mint. But when you want another alternative, try 100% fruit juices (while not necessarily low in calories, they contain important nutrients); nonfat milk, which will give you a calcium boost; unsweetened tea (try herbal or decaffeinated); seltzer water with a splash of juice or slice of fruit; homemade lemonade, with lemon, water, and a small amount of sugar or artificial sweetener; or coffee (again, choose decaffeinated if caffeine keeps you up) with skim milk and artificial sweetener; try it iced in hot weather.

5. Lack of Sleep

If you don't get a good night's sleep on a regular basis, chances are, one of these "sleep busters" is keeping you awake, says Joyce Walsleben:

  • Stress or anxiety
  • Illness
  • Noise
  • Light
  • Overcommitted schedule
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Stimulant medications (such as diet pills, cold and allergy remedies, asthma medications)
  • Depression or anger
  • Fear

To get a better night's sleep, you need to strengthen your natural sleep patterns, says Walsleben, who offers these suggestions:

  • Regularize your sleep-wake patterns. Get up at the same time every day. If you wake up at 7 a.m. during the week, skip the temptation to sleep in on weekend mornings. Avoid naps, unless you take one regularly. Try to sleep the same amount of time every night. Some people need nine hours of sleep every night; some do fine with less. Find out what works for you and stick to it.
  • Ritualize your cues for good sleep. Use the bedroom only for sleep and sex. Keep the room quiet, dark, and cool. Get in bed only when you're sleepy.
  • Start a worry notebook. Using a child's school notebook, on the left side of the page, list the issues that have been running through your mind; on the right side, list actions you can take to resolve those issues.
  • Resist temptation. That includes alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine, all of which can interfere with sleep.

6. Attitude

A bad attitude will zap your energy, says motivational speaker Sam Glenn, author of A Kick in the Attitude. Change your attitude and your energy level, feelings, responses, outlook, and perspectives on your situation change along with it, he says. "This one simple choice can transform your life," Glenn says. "In changing the nature of the way we think and act, we build an attitude force so strong that it will attract favor, opportunities, people, and dreams into our existence."

7. Clutter and Disorganization

Being disorganized or having clutter in your home can make you feel lethargic and lacking in energy and optimism, says Candita Clayton, founder of Your Life Organized in Rumford, R.I.

Looking for lost or misplaced stuff is a huge physical drain. And trying to remember where things are and all you have to get done on your to-do list is a big mental drain, says professional organizer Jamie Novak, author of 1,000 Best Quick and Easy Organizing Secrets. To cope with clutter, Novak says:

  • Give everything a storage place, and put it back when you are done.
  • Make a short daily to-do list; when it's on paper, it's out of your head.
  • Divide a big pile of "stuff" into smaller containers. A few small sorts are easier than one big one.
  • Take action. Choose one area to get under control; set a timer for 20 minutes and dive in.
  • See a project through. Do not put the mail down, for example; stand over the shredder and sort it right then.
  • Love it or lose it! Keep only the items around you that you find beautiful and uplifting. Sort through the clutter, letting go of items you no longer love. This frees up space for all the items you want to have around.

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