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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

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

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

Reference

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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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Published on June 11, 2021

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

What Is Well-being: A Guide On How To Measure And Improve It

Well-being is a term often utilized in psychology literature to describe healthy individuals. It is often associated with contentment, happiness, or fulfillment. However, there is debate about what well-being really is and even how to spell it.[1] With so much confusion around the definition, individuals are often left to wonder what well-being is and how to achieve it.

This article will unlock the answers to three questions:

  • What is well-being?
  • How is it measured?
  • How is it improved?

What Is Well-Being?

Well-being includes a combination of feeling states and lifestyle factors. Feeling states associated with it may include happiness and contentment. Lifestyle factors may include feelings of fulfillment, achieving one’s potential, having some control in life, and engaging in meaningful relationships. Well-being is also associated with positive mental health.[2] In simpler terms, It is a construct used to describe many facets of life including psychological, physical, and social health. Synonyms for it include happiness, health, positive feelings, welfare, and wellness.[3]

It may also be defined as a state of balance or homeostasis. This balance is achieved by having enough resources to cope with life’s challenges.[4] Both challenges and resources may be prevalent in three areas: physical, psychological, and social.

When there is an abundance of challenges and inadequate resources, well-being is lost. However, humans are designed to work towards achieving a state of balance. Well-being is linked to interpersonal, professional, and personal success. It often results in greater productivity at work, increased learning and creativity, prosocial behavior, and fulfilling relationships.[5]

Why is well-being difficult to define? Likely because it encompasses a variety of life experiences and feeling states that may vary among individuals. To help individuals assess themselves, several measures have been created.

How Is Well-Being Measured?

Researchers need to agree on a standardized definition of well-being to accurately measure it. An adequate measure must therefore encompass every facet of well-being, including as a feeling state as well as a lifestyle. In other words, an effective measurement takes both life satisfaction and functioning into account.

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Well-being can be broken down further into two categories: objective and subjective.

Objective Well-Being

Objective well-being looks at standards of living. This is useful for research looking at cultures, countries, or groups of people. It includes measuring education, income, safety, and life expectancy.[6]

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United National Development Programme, and the Italian Statistics Bureau have identified six areas for study related to objective well-being:

  1. Health
  2. Job opportunities
  3. Socioeconomic development
  4. Politics
  5. Safety
  6. Environment

Subjective Well-Being

Subjective well-being includes an emotional and mental assessment of an individual’s life. Two prominent subjective measures are life satisfaction and happiness. Measuring subjective well-being is useful for predicting mental health patterns.[7] It is determined intrinsically by the individual. Regardless of how their life might be perceived by others on the outside, this measures how individuals feel on the inside.

Subjective well-being can be broken down further into two categories: hedonic and contentment. The hedonic component relates to feelings, emotions, and moods. The contentment component relates to thoughts and whether an individual feels their life has been fulfilling. Individuals often measure their thoughts and life fulfillment against social and cultural backgrounds.

In other words, it is important to consider the context in which an individual lives. Individuals may perceive their lives differently based on social and cultural expectations. Furthermore, individuals cannot be measured without taking their environment into consideration.

In 2013, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development determined subjective well-being to be an important factor in assessing well-being. Because it is perceived by the individual, it is often assessed by self-report measures. In other words, individuals rate their own level of well-being through psychological tests.[8]

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There are five areas associated with subjective well-being:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Basic and psychological needs
  3. Social environment
  4. Economics and income
  5. Political environment

How to Improve Well-Being

There are many ways that individuals can improve their sense of well-being. It is a complex construct with a variety of factors at play. Therefore, there is no one, perfect solution for it. Instead, the goal should be to engage in a holistic approach the incorporates a variety of factors.

The following methods are not comprehensive. What works well for one individual may not be the right approach for others. Instead, these approaches should be considered suggestions for improving well-being.

Individuals looking for a truly comprehensive assessment of well-being should consider scheduling an appointment with a psychologist, therapist, or medical doctor. These individuals may also provide resources, prescribe medication, or share tips for making lifestyle changes to assist in overall improvement.

1. Spend Time in Nature

There is evidence to support the claim that interactions with nature increase well-being. This includes an increase in positive emotions, happiness, and subjective well-being. Time spent in nature is also linked with an increased sense of meaning and purpose in life as well as the ability to manage challenges in life.[9]

One study found that spending at least 120 minutes in nature each week was associated with greater health. In the study, it did not matter if that time was spent all at once or stretched out over the course of a week. Peak gains in well-being occurred between 200 and 300 minutes of nature time, weekly.[10]

2. Practice Gratitude

Individuals who experience gratitude as a trait experience increased well-being. Trait gratitude refers to the willingness to see the unearned value in one’s experience. State gratitude is a feeling that occurs after individuals experience an act of kindness and, therefore, feel motivated to reciprocate.

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One study assessed state gratitude, during Covid-19 in China. Individuals were instructed to journal while practicing gratitude for 14-days, which included a one-month follow-up. The study found that gratitude practiced in a natural setting during times of increased stress and anxiety resulted in increased positive feelings and increased life satisfaction. However, increased life satisfaction was not sustained after one month.[11]

As a result of the aforementioned study, there is evidence to support a daily practice of journaling and gratitude for increased well-being. Individuals should practice both trait and state gratitude, whenever possible. Over time, these practices will become a habit and lead to lasting improvement.

3. Develop Increased Awareness

Increased awareness is associated with improvements in positive subjective experience, increased self-regulation and goal-directed behavior, and successful interactions with others.

Increased awareness can be attained through meta-awareness. Meta-awareness is the ability to consciously notice an emotion, thought, or sensory experience. It is a skill that can be taught. Mindfulness-based meditation and psychotherapy are two ways in which meta-awareness is learned. Kindness and compassion meditations are both linked with improved well-being. Both Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) may help increase awareness.[12]

4. Achieve Work-Life Balance

An individual’s workplace has the potential to either help or harm them. Workplace factors that negatively impact well-being include:

  • Work-related pressure or demands
  • Lack of autonomy or flexibility
  • Poor coworker and supervisor relationships
  • Shift work
  • Longer workday length

Employers can directly improve their workers’ well-being by providing paid leave, opportunities for salary growth, support for individuals with disabilities or those returning after injury, and access to health care. Improvements in the work environment and job structure may also be helpful.[13]

Worker well-being is beneficial both for workers and their employers. It is associated with improvements in:

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  • Performance at work
  • Coping with stress and self-regulation
  • Satisfying relationships, prosocial communication, and cooperation
  • Immune system functioning
  • And physical and psychological health

Workplace well-being is also associated with a decrease in burnout, stress, and sleep-related issues.[14]

5. Seek Out Positive Relationships

Individuals with caring and positive connections often rank higher in well-being. On the flip side, poor social relationships can be more damaging than excessive drinking and smoking. Positive social relationships also help to protect against mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

Prosocial behaviors are important for forming social connections that lead to increased well-being. Appreciation and gratitude are both pro-social traits. For example, focusing on the positive qualities and actions of others. Empathy for others also contributes to higher levels of well-being. Lastly, generosity is also a strong predictor of life satisfaction.[15]

6. Stay Hopeful

Hope is a concept often related to spiritual and religious traditions. However, it entered the world of psychology around the 20th century. It is now an important construct in positive psychology. Hope can be defined broadly as the belief that things can get better, and that goals are achievable.

Hope is associated with an increase in:

  • Emotional adjustment
  • Positive feelings
  • Life satisfaction and quality of life
  • Social support
  • A sense of purpose

Takeaways

Well-being is a construct that is hard to define, yet widely cited in psychological literature. It is linked with feelings of happiness and contentment. It might also be described as a sense of purpose or satisfaction with life.

To accurately measure it, there needs to be an agreed-upon definition. In general, it has been separated into objective and subjective categories. Objective well-being considers social and cultural constructs. Subjective well-being refers to the individual’s felt sense and internal assessment of their own.

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There are several things that individuals can do to improve their well-being. However, no one thing will improve everything. Rather, this requires a holistic practice of mental and physical health. Nevertheless, individuals who spend time in nature, develop positive connections, practice gratitude, stay hopeful, and develop awareness have a greater chance of experiencing better well-being.

More Tips For Your Well-Being

Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

Reference

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