We’re all aware of the obvious energy vampires in our lives: lack of sleep, too much work, stress, poor diet and scanty exercise clearly rob us of our vim and vigour. But lately I’ve become more conscious of the insidious factors that can zap my zip and they may be relevant to you, too. Let me introduce you to 5 hidden energy eaters and how to combat them:
1. Indecision/procrastination. I’ve grouped these two together because difficulty with making a decision leads to procrastination in all manner of things, and procrastination makes indecision worse. In other words, indecision and procrastination can be a huge psychic drain making it harder to do everything.
I have a long history with both. (On my 21st birthday, a friend gave me a card that opened with “I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not sure.”) Regarding procrastination, in university there was hardly an essay I completed without pulling an all-nighter to do so. As an editor and writer who’s worked in the magazine industry for many years, my life’s been defined by deadlines, which has cured me of procrastination on the job. But, in my personal life? Let’s just say that a thank-you note on my to-do list since late April just got sent this week.
The cure: I can’t say big decisions have become much easier. But I do find being conscious of the way they weigh me down helps defuse some of the stress, and, as a result, they’re not such energy eaters. As for procrastination, I’ve discovered that remembering the energy lift I get from doing something I’ve been putting off helps motivate me to action.
2. Regret. If you’ve lived long enough to remember The Sonny & Cher Show, there’s an excellent chance that you’ve had a regret or two…thousand.
For me, regrets can range from thinking about a joke I tried that didn’t land well at a cocktail party to questioning a career move. While the regrets vary, they’re united in the way they can keep us in the past and plug up the motivation to move forward.
The cure: At the risk of sounding like a voice from the self-help aisle, cut yourself some slack. If you have regrets it means you have a conscience. Analyze if there’s a way to change something you regret, and, if so, try to do it. If not, acknowledge what you’ve learned from your “mistake” and try to focus more on the present and what you want for the future.
3. Looking tired. If you look exhausted, chances are you are! But beginning in our late 30s, it takes more work to look fresh even if you’ve gotten eight hours. Skin thins as we age, so areas like under-eye circles become more noticeable. And I firmly believe that seeing yourself looking dragged down makes you feel even more tired.
The cure: If consistent sleep, an eye lift or a smaller workload aren’t in the cards; let’s be thankful there’s makeup!
Well, first, there’s moisturizer. I find when my skin glows I look fresher no matter how tired I am.
There’s also blush. While I was never a big fan, a few years back I noticed how much fresher a beauty editor I worked with looked after applying it. Very pregnant at the time, she put on blush on the way to a client meeting and instantly went from wilted worker to hot mama. If you’re not a blush wearer and would like something subtle, I find Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact gives a soft but flattering glow.
And since eyes can be the biggest giveaway of fatigue, always use a good eye cream before you apply concealer. On those days when I need to call in extra ammunition, I apply a highlighter to the inner corner of my eyes.
4. Clutter. I love when things are tidy, but clutter still seems to cling to me like a knit dress on Sofia Vergara. Whether it’s financial statements, magazines or too many beauty products, looking at the disorganized stuff has a way of dragging me down.
It seems I’m not alone: according to the Professional Organizers in Canada, a national association representing the profession, 90 per cent of disorganized Canadians report having negative effects from clutter.
The cure: In North America, most people just have too much stuff. Look around your home and see if there’s anything you can donate or, at least, recycle. My husband and I always have a donation bag on the go for our next drop-off at Goodwill. And if you need inspiration: watching Hoarders always gets me in a tossing-out mood, but reading Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston is probably a better approach.
5. Bad food combinations. I’m not a nutritionist or dietician, but in my experience certain combinations of food can deplete energy while others boost it. Food combining has been around since the 1800s, but hit the North American radar in a big way in the mid 1980s with the book Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond. While Fit for Life came under fire, partly due to the questionable scientific credentials of its the authors, some of the principles it touted have caught on.
One of its tenets is that protein should not be paired with carbs or starchy vegetables. While I love nothing more than a dinner of steak frites, I agree with the food combiners that, when eaten together, protein and starch seem tricky to digest and make me feel sluggish.
The cure: I don’t believe strict food regimens are sustainable for most people. But if you find yourself dragging after eating, why not try a couple of meals this week holding the starch when you eat protein, and see how you feel.
Of course, if you’re chronically tired, it’s wise to ask your physician for a blood test to check if you’re low in iron or certain vitamins. In the meantime, keep on the watch for the hidden energy eaters that may be undermining you.
I’m going to think more of mine…after I take a nap.