How Everyday Habits Zap Energy
●You're watching too much TV.
For every hour spent channel surfing, people walk 144 fewer steps, according to one Harvard study. The result? Slow and steady weight gain that drags you down. "Try strapping on 10 pounds of weights and walking around with them for a day - you'll be exhausted," says Grotto. That sluggishness also makes you less likely to gear up for a pound-paring workout. To break the cycle, try limiting TV time, or watch it while you're on the treadmill.
● You're not getting enough daylight.
"Sunlight triggers your brain to release specific brain chemicals such as serotonin, which is vital to boosting mood and energy," says Northrup. So step outside every day for a 20-minute walk, but don't forgo the SPF - it's the sunlight absorbed by your eyes that activates the brain's pineal gland and signals the release of energizing neurochemicals, so protecting your skin from UV rays won't defeat the purpose.
● You obsess over everything.
"My research shows that women are prone to ruminating - we overanalyze everything, be it a friend's comment or a fight with hubby, which stresses us out and zaps our energy," explains Yale psychologist Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D., author of Eating, Drinking, Overthinking. "It becomes a vicious cycle - stress brings on more rumination, which leaves us even more anxious and exhausted." Her suggestion: Find someone you trust to vent to for five minutes, and then let it go.
● You're glued to your cell phone or pager.
They're designed to make life easier, but these gadgets can actually increase anxiety levels by placing more demands on you throughout the day, according to a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study. And it's worse for women, who are more likely to receive telephone calls at work from a crying child or a frustrated spouse, says study author Noelle Chesley, Ph.D. Consider asking your family to email you rather than call (unless it's a real emergency): The study found that Internet use didn't evoke the same stress.
● You've got a lot of lingering to-do's.
Annoying recurring problems (like a constantly running toilet or a leaky sink) can be even more emotionally draining over time than a major life trauma like losing your job or a loved one or getting divorced. "A one-time stressful event can impact energy short-term, but it's all those little nagging unfinished tasks - I call them "NUTS" - that hang around that wear you out over time," explains Michael Roizen, M.D., author of You: The Owner's Manual. This low-grade chronic stress can cause your body to constantly produce stress hormones, such as cortisol, that increase blood pressure, age your arteries, and weaken your immune system, effectively aging you by about 32 years, Roizen's research shows. Who knew that simply crossing items off your to-do list could amp up your energy levels and make you feel a few decades younger?