Rev Up Your Energy

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Imagine your body as a sleek sports car. If you put premium gasoline in the tank, you would expect it to drive beautifully. Yet what would happen if you left the headlights on all night? Never let the engine run more than once a month or two? Didn’t change your oil? Surely, the four-wheeled machine would not run as powerfully as it could with proper maintenance.

Now think of your body in the same light. Even if you fueled your tank with nutritious food, you could still feel exhausted with little sleep, little exercise, and a lot of stress. One or a combination of these elements could drain energy reserves. Add any illnesses or fatigue. Heart rate and blood pressure go up. Muscles prepare for movement. Without physical action, the hormones don’t have an outlet for release and end up harming our cardiovascular system and possibly compromising our immune system.

To keep stress from draining your energy reserves, Compas suggests the following:

  • Take action on issues that are within your control. If pressure at work is the problem, determine what you can do to change your circumstances. Perhaps it could be looking for a different job, asking your employer or a co-worker to act a different way, or changing your work schedule. “Not taking action would be a missed opportunity,” says Compas. “You can reduce stress by getting to the source of it.”
  • Learn to respond to stress. For stressors that are inevitable, you can cope with relaxation techniques. Popular methods include yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation (tightening and relaxing different muscles), and meditation. Compas suggests practicing a stress management technique so that you can call up the same feeling of relaxation during stressful periods. Trying to relax without practice would be a more difficult strategy. “An example would be someone who has trouble with public speaking, and they have to give a presentation at work,” Compas explains. “They’re not going to learn how to relax while giving that talk. They have to learn how to relax separate from that by practicing and practicing, and then bringing that response they’ve now learned into the situation.”

Energy Thief No. 4: Diseases and Drugs

The pain and symptoms of certain ailments can contribute to exhaustion. Obesity, for example, can put a strain on the body’s cardiovascular system, even while performing normal activities. “It’s a vicious cycle,” says Larry Fields, MD, a member of the board of directors for the American Academy of Family Physicians. “Because you are obese, you are obviously not exercising, and you’re less likely to exercise. The less exercise you get, the more fatigued and deconditioned you become.”

Obesity is also associated with heart disease and diabetes, medical conditions that have fatigue as a symptom. Other illnesses that can cause low energy include disease, arthritis, lung disease, and depression. The tiredness usually ebbs with proper management of the illness, says Fields. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.

Be aware, however, that certain medications can have fatigue as a side effect. Some common culprits are high blood pressure pills called beta-blockers, , antiseizure drugs, migraine drugs, and antihistamines.

To clear up the problem, talk to your doctor about the possibility of reducing dosage or substituting the medicine with a similar drug.

Taking Back Your Energy

No matter how resilient the human body, disease, drugs, abuse, and neglect can lead to a sluggish system. To obtain and sustain high-quality energy, it is important to take the time to plan your sources of power.

“Your energy has got to be your first priority,” says Jon Gordon, author of Energy Addict: 101 Mental, Physical, & Spiritual Ways to Energize Your Life. “If you have no energy, you have no life. If you have no energy, you have no career. If you have no energy, you can’t make a difference.”

Planning for your energy involves thinking about your meals, sleep hours, workout schedule, and stress management ahead of time and making time for them. Also make time to see your doctor on a regular basis. Making good choices will not only boost your energy, it will rejuvenate your life.