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  • Writer's pictureDr. Melissa Dybala

Four Habits that are Zapping Your Energy and Success

Wonder why you're always tired and can't seem to make it through a day with the same vitality and productivity you had when you were younger? Here are the four energy culprits that might be zapping your energy and success potential:

1. Drinking Coffee Do you ever drink coffee to stay awake or keep working? Do you sometimes skip breakfast and drink coffee instead? More Americans are drinking coffee than ever before, but there are some drawbacks to consuming your morning mojo.

Both regular and decaffeinated coffee contain caffeine, a stimulant that can cause nervousness, insomnia, heart palpitations, and an irritable bowel among other things. Coffee can deplete you of calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins - nutrients that are important for good energy, musculoskeletal, and neurological health.

Also, when you drink a caffeinated beverage without eating a meal, you release the stress hormone cortisol. When cortisol spikes out of range, you feel tired, gain weight, lose sleep, and lose mental focus. After the initial cortisol spike, your blood sugar plummets and you feel tired again. You reach back for your coffee and the cycle begins again.

2. Burning the Midnight Oil

Do you stay up late to get more work done? If we as adults follow our instinctive circadian rhythm, we are meant to go to bed by around 10 p.m. and sleep for at least 7 hours. The hormone cortisol is recharged at night and is supposed to be at its highest level at 9 a.m. As the day goes on, cortisol slowly drops. As cortisol drops, melatonin is supposed to increase until it is at its highest level at night. When cortisol and melatonin are in a good ratio to each other, it helps us sleep better, regenerate, and recharge. When we work against this process, we shift the cortisol and melatonin curve. It becomes harder to fall asleep, stay asleep, wake feeling refreshed, dream, or feel energetic during the daytime. You then reach for the caffeine and continue the cycle.

3. Skipping breaks

Do you skip breaks to get more work done? Let’s say you pulled a 12-hour shift. Were you really productive that entire shift? Be honest. We are all different in how well we can focus, how long we can work, and how much stamina we have daily. Taking breaks can actually improve your productivity.

If you don’t remember what breaks are, consider adding them to your appointment calendar. Consider the 52-17 rule in which you work full on for 52 minutes then completely check out for 17 minutes and start again. No cheating, for those 17 minutes you are not allowed to check emails, phone calls, or do anything work-related. Some of the most popular inventors and geniuses worked short work days. If you could work 8 hours instead of 12 by working smarter and not harder, wouldn’t you? Then you would have time to rest and recharge while getting more done in your life.

4. Skipping Meals

Do you skip meals because you don’t have time to eat or aren’t hungry (then maybe grab some coffee to tide you over)? Better yet, do you only eat one meal a day and then carb out? When you skip your meal or snack, your blood sugar falls and you feel tired, lose focus, and lose motivation. You then feel starved and want to reach for something instantly satisfying like a sugary snack to raise your blood sugar. You may feel better momentarily and then crash again. Time for more sugar, maybe with some coffee this time.

To avoid this roller-coaster, consider consuming healthy fats and protein throughout the day. Consult with your health care provider if you have issues with digestion, have kidney or gallbladder disease, or anything else that may prohibit you from making drastic diet changes.

The bottom line is that all your efforts to keep going by drinking caffeine, getting less sleep, and skipping breaks and meals can be sabotaging your efficiency and success as well as your health. Making small changes are key to developing better habits that can lead to a better, more successful and professional you!


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