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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

The Causes of Lack of Energy (That Go Beyond Your Physical Health)

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The Causes of Lack of Energy (That Go Beyond Your Physical Health)

Think about this: you just spent a day at work, and you’ve thought all afternoon about how you want to tackle a goal that’s been on the back-burner all week. As the day wears on and you make your way home, you tell yourself over and over like a broken record how you need to put your head down, so to speak, and finally get around to doing that one thing you need to do.

You get home, put your bag down, and… fast-forward a few hours. Before you know it, it’s time for bed.

What happened?

Well, you lost all the energy you needed; your mind effectively gave up before you even started.

A lack of energy can go beyond feeling physically tired. It can permeate into what’s known as “mental tiredness.” And it’s a real thing, affecting almost everyone for various reasons. But what if I told you it’s completely possible to tackle it? All it takes is identifying some of the sources of your lack of energy and finding ways to work with it.

Let’s go through the lack of energy causes and how to fix them.

1. An Unfulfilling Job

Everyone knows they spend at least eight hours a day at their job for generally five days a week. If you think about it carefully, though, you’ll realize that this 40 hours a week translates to about 88 full days a year you’re at your job.

We’re talking 88 straight, 24-hour days worth of work in a year. That’s about 25% of your entire existence, not including sleep, spent at your job. That’s a lot of time.

So if your job is unfulfilling to you, no wonder your mental fortitude takes the biggest beating.

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Unfulfilling can also mean several things:

There are many more situations, so inevitably the question gets asked: How do I know if my job is unfulfilling?

Do you feel drained? Do you dread going to work each morning? Do you often think about what you’d rather be doing when you’re at work? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you probably need to reconsider your career choice.

Why? A recent study found a direct link between job satisfaction and mental health[1]. Those who reported less satisfaction with their jobs suffered from higher bouts of depression and sleep difficulty.

How to Fix the Problem

An unfulfilling job is an incredibly common problem faced by people around the world. Some people don’t know what their dream job is, while others don’t have the skills to get into their dream job when they want to.

The first step would be identifying jobs that would feel fulfilling. Make a list of your skills and the topics you enjoy learning. Which jobs would those things serve?

If you already know what you want to do but don’t currently have the skill set for it, take small steps to get where you need to be. Take an online class, find a mentor, or go back to school (if you have the time and the means). Is there a related job you could do that could help you build the right skills? If so, start there.

2. Overwhelming Task List

Got stuff to do? Great, so does everyone else.

Got a lot of stuff to do? You’re not alone.

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Imagine this:

You open your task list, ready to start checking off items. You sip your coffee, sit down, and almost fall backwards off your chair when you realize you’ve got about 18 things to do in the next five hours.

And this may be a contributing factor to your lack of energy. Feeling overwhelmed is a quick way to feeling burned out. When we feel like we have too many things to do, we tend to freeze (or have what’s called workload paralysis[2]) because we don’t know what to tackle first.

This feeling continues, and before you know it, the entire day has gone by and you’ve filled your time doing everything except what you need to do; in other words, you do nothing of importance.

Then, as the days turns into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, you come to the harsh realization that you didn’t really achieve all the things you set out to do. It’s a defeating feeling when you don’t think you’re capable of achieving much.

The defeating attitude is a vicious cycle, too — you start by feeling overwhelmed, don’t do anything about it, then waste time before feeling defeated — and a fast track to a mental burnout.

How to Fix the Problem

Split up your list. If there are too many things to do in one day, move items to your “tomorrow” list, or even to a “weekend” list. Make your list achievable by writing a time limit next to each item so you can imagine how long a full list will take to complete.

3. Saying “Yes” Too Often

“Hey, want to go catch a movie?”

“Want to come over?”

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“Can you pick me up from the airport?”

“Want to grab dinner?”

If you’re a yes person, no doesn’t exist in your personal dictionary. The problem is, it should.

If you’re spending all your time doing everything everyone else wants but no time doing the things you want, you won’t get much accomplished in your life. Just like in the above example, when you realize months later you didn’t get very far, you tend to become defeated, which ultimately leads to feeling mentally exhausted.

The good news is you can become a “no” person whenever you feel like it, and in turn start accomplishing the things you want. But if you’re used to saying yes, it’s not an easy thing to suddenly switch gears.

Being able to focus on yourself gives you an incredible sense of accomplishment and in turn helps your mental state; it’s OK to put yourself first.

How to Fix the Problem

Saying no will likely be difficult at first if you’re used to always saying yes. Start by trying to say no to one thing each week. If you’re worried that saying no will affect how the other person thinks of you, this may be a problem related to self-esteem more than anything else. It may be time to do some self-reflection to see why you want to please everyone by refusing to say no.

4. Lack of Hobbies or Passions

Hobbies and passions are what fuel us to do great things. In many cases, they lead you to your life’s purpose. At worst, they give you an incredible sense of fulfillment and source of happiness in your life.

When your job gets tough, it’s important to have an outlet to focus on. When your job isn’t aligned with your passions or purpose, it’s especially important to have an outlet to apply your skills and excitement towards. In fact, having something to put your attention towards can help provide your life with direction and meaning.

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In a roundabout way, focusing on hobbies or passions can ultimately improve your work or family life.[3] All this is to say: you’re a much better person, especially mentally, when you apply yourself towards things that interest you.

When you don’t have any source of motivation to work towards, you become tired of dealing with the mundane things that life throws at you. And then you become annoyed and yet again, defeated. This frustration can lead to mental exhaustion if it continues long-term.

How to Fix the Problem

If you haven’t made time for a hobby in the past, it’s time to carve out some “you” time each day. Take an hour in the morning or evening to put toward something you enjoy doing. If you don’t have a favorite hobby, start trying things. Say yes to joining that tennis match with your friend or sign up for that free pottery class in town. You never know what you might end up enjoying.

The Bottom Line

Feeling tired from a lack of sleep is one thing. Feeling tired because work isn’t fulfilling, you have no hobbies or passions, you stretch yourself thin, or you feel overwhelmed is another thing.

It’s important to know the difference and work towards defeating the lack of energy you may be feeling.

The four sources listed above are a starting point for you in your quest. There are many more, but these comprise some of the most common. Once you’re able to identify the specific problem in your life, you can get yourself back on track and feel more energetic in your daily life.

More Tips About Regaining Energy

Featured photo credit: Zohre Nemati via unsplash.com

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Adam Bergen

Adam Bergen is the founder of Monday Views, a movement dedicated to showing that with focus and self-discipline, your potential is limitless.

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Last Updated on September 16, 2021

Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Exist (And How to Stay Sane)

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Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Exist (And How to Stay Sane)

If you’ve ever felt like work-life balance isn’t really possible, you may be right.

Actually, I think work-life balance doesn’t exist. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a rising star in the corporate world, work is always going to overflow from your 9 to 5 into your personal life. And if you have ambitions of becoming successful in just about any capacity, you’re going to have to make sacrifices.

Which is why, instead of striving for the unrealistic goal of “work-life balance,” I use a combination of rituals, tools, and coping mechanisms that allows me to thrive on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, moments still arise when I may feel overloaded with work and a bit out of balance, but with these daily rituals in place, I am able to feel grounded instead of feeling like I’m losing my mind.

Here are five daily practices I use to stay focused and balanced despite a jam-packed work schedule:

1. Pause (Frequently!) to Remember That You Chose This Path

Regardless of which path you take in life, it’s important to remind yourself that you are the one who chose the path you’re on.

For example, one of the joys of being an entrepreneur is that you experience a significant amount of freedom. Unfortunately, in moments of stress, it’s easy to forget that choice goes both ways: you chose to go your own way, and you chose the obstacles that come with that journey.

Remember: tomorrow, you could choose to leave your job, shut down your company, and go move to a farm in the middle of nowhere. The choice is yours.

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Whenever I catch myself thinking, “Why am I doing this?” I simply remember, “Oh, wait. I chose this.” And if I want to, I can choose another option. But at this moment, I own it because I chose it.

That simple mental shift can help me move from feeling out of control to in control. It’s empowering.

2. Use ‘Rocks’ to Prioritize Your Tasks

Sometimes having a to-do list is more overwhelming than it is helpful.

The daily tasks of anyone in a high-stakes, high-responsibility role are never-ending. Literally. No matter how many items you check off your list, each day adds just as many new ones, and even after a full day it can often feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.

So instead, I use “rocks”—a strategy I learned from performance coach Bill Nelson.

Say you have a glass container and a variety of rocks, divided into groups of large, mid-sized, and small rocks, and then some sand. If you put the small rocks in first, you’re not going to be able to fit everything in your container. But if you put the big rocks in first, then the mid-sized, and, finally, the small, they’ll all fit. And at the end, the sand fills the extra space.

The point of this strategy is to designate a handful of your biggest priorities for the week—let’s say five tasks—as the things you absolutely have to get done that week. Write them down somewhere.

Then, even if you accomplish nothing else but those five things, you’re going to feel better, since you completed the important tasks. You’ve made progress!

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Identifying your “rocks” is a better way of tracking progress and ensuring that you focus on the most critical things. You can create rocks on a weekly or even daily basis.

Some days, when I’m feeling the most frenzied, I say to myself, “You know what? Let’s boil it down. If I accomplish nothing else today and I just do these three things, it will be a good day.”

3. The PEW12 Method

Of all the daily practices I follow, Purge Emotional Writing (PEW12), which I learned from Dr. Habib Sadeghi, is my favorite.[1]

Here’s how it works:

Pick a topic, set a timer for 12 minutes, and just write.

You may be dealing with a specific issue you need to vent about, or you may be free-writing as emotions surface. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing or what your handwriting looks like, because you’re never going to re-read it.

At the end, burn the pages.

As the paper burns, you will feel all of those emotions you’ve just poured out either being reduced or dissipating completely. Both the writing process—which is literally unloading all of your unnecessary stuff—and the burning of the pages feel incredibly cathartic.

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And you can do PEW12 as frequently or infrequently as you feel you need it—once, twice, or multiple times a day.  

The reason I find this exercise so helpful is because, sometimes, I get in my head about a difficult issue or troubling interaction with someone, even when I know there is nothing to be done about it.

But as soon as I do my PEW12, I feel a sense of relief. I have more clarity. And I stop circling and circling the issue in my head. It makes things feel resolved. Just try it.

4. Set Sacred Time (Like a 20-Minute Walk or Evening Bath)

Outside of work, you have to try to protect some time for restoration and quiet. I call this sacred time.

For example, every single night I take a bath. This is a chance to literally wash off the day and any of the energy from the people, interactions, or experiences that I don’t want to take to bed with me.

I actually remodeled a bathroom in my house solely for this purpose. The bath ritual—which includes Himalayan bath salts, essential oils, and a five-minute meditation—is the ultimate “me time” and allows me to go to bed feeling peaceful and relaxed.

And while sacred time to end the day is crucial, I like to start the day with these types of practices, too.

In the mornings, I take my dog Bernard for a walk—and I use those 20 minutes to set my intention for the day. I don’t take my phone with me. I don’t think about the endless to-do list. I just enjoy listening to the birds and breathing in the sunshine, while Bernard stops to say hi to the neighbors and their dogs.

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These might seem like ordinary daily activities, but it’s the commitment to doing them day after day that makes all the difference.

5. Forgive Yourself When You Fail to Use the Tools

Sometimes our intention to follow “daily” practices falls flat. When this happens to me, I try not to beat myself up about it. After all, these things are tools to make me feel good. If they just become another chore, what is the point?

At the end of the day, my daily practices don’t belong in my jar of rocks or on my to-do list or in my daily planner. They are there to serve me.

If, for some reason, life happens and I can’t do my practices, I won’t feel as good. It’s possible I won’t sleep as well that night, or I’ll feel a little guilty that I didn’t walk Bernard.

But that’s okay. It’s also a good practice to acknowledge my limits and let go of the need to do everything all the time.

The Bottom Line

For most people, accepting that work-life balance simply isn’t possible is the first step to feeling more grounded and in control of your life.

Don’t waste your energy trying to achieve something that doesn’t exist. Instead, focus on how you’re feeling when things are out of balance and find a way to address those feelings.

You’ll have a toolkit for feeling better when life feels crazy, and, on the off chance things feel calm and happy, your rituals will make you feel absolutely amazing!

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Featured photo credit: Dries De Schepper via unsplash.com

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