Being carefree, joyful, and full of life isn’t about your age, credit score, or the number of likes your posts get on Instagram. If you feel drained and burned out, maybe you’ve slipped into some of these common bad habits that undermine your life satisfaction and suck up all your energy, leaving you tired and worn out. Luckily, you can always take a good hard look at yourself, and make changes to improve your energy levels every day.
Here are the Top 12 bad habits that many people have that end up draining their energy (both spiritually and physically).
1. Be a lone wolf
Mental health professionals know social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking cigarettes or obesity. In a study of older adults, researchers found that people who felt lonely or felt like they didn’t have a friend or loved one to rely on had lower quality mental and physical health.1While some prefer to roll solo, we all need a cheering section sometimes. Invest in your relationships with people who care about your well-being and want to see you succeed.
‘Cognitive dissonance’ is the state of having conflicting beliefs and thoughts about a situation or choice you’ve made. It leads to ongoing mental stress.2Granted, life isn’t always perfect, and making compromises is a natural and healthy part of moving through life. However, thinking, “This is the best I’ll ever get” or “I don’t deserve any better” is holding you back. Don’t be afraid to make bold decisions and change things that aren’t working.
3. Don’t have boundaries
Too often, we feel bad or guilty for saying “no” when someone asks a favor, invites us to something, or wants to borrow something. Don’t be afraid to answer truthfully. While we all have a few not-so-fun responsibilities, there’s no reason to agree to something you know you’ll be stressing about later.
4. Live beyond your means
We’ve all done it: the paycheck is coming in next week–pull out the credit card and promise to pay it off later. Spending money you don’t have, even if you just don’t have it yet, leads to nagging worry and doubts. Free yourself: let your wallet live in the present, not the future.
5. Hold grudges
Advice columnist Ann Landers wrote, “holding onto resentment is like letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.” not only rent-free, there’s a utility bill too–your energy. Forgive and forget.
6. Overcommit your time
Always make a little space for yourself in your schedule. Unplug and use the time for naps, meditation, reading, or hobbies. Don’t you get excited just thinking about it?
7. Eat junk food
Eating junk food, especially sugary drinks and treats, releases a hit of dopamine in the brain. That’s the same chemical released when you use drugs, alcohol, or gambling. In other words, it’s highly addictive, making you want more and more.3 Furthermore, the poor nutrition of fast food and packaged, processed products has a significant impact on your energy level. Instead, munch on healthy snacks, and choose water when you can, instead of soda pop or juice. Get rid of it!
8. Lurk Social media
Increasingly, scientists, parents and therapists see how spending too much time on social media leads to depression, social anxiety, and loneliness in teens and young adults.4 On Facebook and Instagram, everyone presents a polished, perfect life. Our own lives behind the screen seem dull and sad–even as we filter and curate our image to seem perfect and polished to everyone else. Social media is a great tool, but be wary of spending too much time on it. Check out more on the risks of social media.
9. Charge your phone by your bed
No, it’s not because of cell radiation nuking your brain. When it’s late at night and you can’t sleep, the temptation to roll over and check your phone is tough to resist. However, turning to devices when you’re not sleepy may turn your restlessness into insomnia.5 The mental stimulation and bright blue light mess with your circadian rhythms, the body’s sleep clock. A good way to resist the temptation is to dock your phone in another room altogether.
10. Be a couch potato
Remember how junk food releases dopamine into the brain, which feels good and gives you a temporary boost? Well, exercise has been proven to do the same, except it’s good for you! Sometimes known as a ‘runner’s high,’ working out gives a brief chemical boost to the brain.6 Additionally, being fit means your body works more efficiently, meaning your energy lasts longer.
Positive thinking powerfully benefits your mental health and sense of well-being.7 focusing on the negative only drags you down. Let it go and smile!
Lastly, sometimes it feels like you’re doing the same thing, day in, day out. We all know the feeling: eat, sleep, work, Netflix, repeat. Break out of the routine and try something new. Travel, even if it’s just to a new restaurant or park. Try new things. Little changes can make you feel a lot more fulfilled. If this article inspires you, check out these 22 things happy people do every day.