Why Do You Feel a Lack of Energy?
Your energy levels are constantly being affected by various causes, which I'll talk about in this section. The good news is that for the majority of these causes — there are solutions. (Check out the 'Your Solution to Boosting Energy' section below.)
Psychological issues are one of the major causes of people feeling constantly tired and unmotivated.
You many not have thought about it before, but severe or ongoing stress is a personal energy killer.
Stress can be triggered by all kinds of things in life, including:
- Having a high-pressured job
- Going through a divorce
- Struggling with debt
- Emotional problems (anxiety, depression and fear)
Here're some more potential stressors in life: How to Cope with the 5 Common Stressors In Life and Feel Better
Whatever the causes of stress, the results are almost always the same — an intense and constant feeling of fatigue. A stressed person may also experience problems concentrating and sleeping. This is largely due to the effects stress have on physical and mental health.
When put into a stressful situation, your body adopts a physical response. This starts with your nervous system releasing hormones that prepare you to either respond via 'fight or flight'.
To confirm this, think back to the last time you were in a particularly stressful situation. I guarantee that you would have have noticed that your heartbeat and breathing sped up, your muscles will have got tighter and your probably started to sweat.
Fortunately, if the stress is short-term and temporary, your body and mind will likely make a quick recovery. However, if you're exposed to constant stress over a long period of time (referred to as chronic stress), the constant release of the stress hormone cortisol can lead to serious health issues.
Discover more stress triggers by reading our article 13 Things That Are Stressing You Out and Making You Less Productive.
Lack of Motivation
Another energy vampire is lack of motivation.
Unmotivated people are typically either suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety or depression or they lack a clear life purpose, which leads them to feeling dissatisfied and apathetic.
Lack of motivation may also be caused by any of the following:
- Low-self esteem
- Having nothing to aim for
- Goals being too big or too small
Check out our article 7 Things That Cause Your Lack of Motivation (And How to Fix Them) for more information on this.
Another major factor related to low energy is the way we choose to live our lives.
Science shows that getting a good night's sleep on a daily basis is vital to our physical and mental health. If we fail to do this, we can expect to see some or all of the folllowing negative consequences:
- Impaired thinking
- Reduced focus
- Decreased memory
- Poor or risky decision-making
- Mood changes
And of course, one of the most significant factors of either getting too much sleep or not enough sleep is... lack of energy.
Learn more about the importance of sleep and the sleep cycle in our article The Importance of Sleep Cycles on Productivity (+ Tips to Improve Yours).
If you work irregular hours, do shift work or frequently work long hours, then you're likely to be operating on depleted personal energy. And if you continue to work these ways for months or years, you could well be putting your health at serious risk.
The reason for this is that your sleep cycle and body clock can easily be disrupted by irregular working hours.
Overwork and shift work can lead to some or all of these symptoms:
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Irregular appetite
- Lowered libido
- Weakened immune system
Read our article 6 Signs You’re Suffering From Shift Work Disorder to see if you need to take immediate action to tackle the debilitating effects of overwork or shift work.
As I mentioned in the introduction to this guide, I've personally suffered the horrors of burnout. I remember how it crept up on me so that I was unaware of it until it was too late.
How about yourself? Are your pushing yourself too much and putting yourself at risk of burnout?
This can happen if you don't take regular and sufficient rest, or if you are living an imbalanced and unhealthy life.
If you're burning the candle at both ends, then you're like to experience some of the below symptoms:
- Feeling continually drained of energy
- Headaches and muscle pain
- Anger and frustration
- Loss of motivation
- Feeling trapped by circumstances
If you're worried about burnout, I recommend you check out our article How to Spot the Signs of Burnout and Overcome It Fast.
Lack of Regular Exercise And Sedentary Behavior
While this has always been a common problem for many people, the coronavirus pandemic — by keeping most people strictly at home for weeks and months — has amplified the problem.
Whereas before people might have walked to work, or at least walked around their office, now the most exercise people get is walking from their bedroom to their lounge!
On top of this, the enforced remote working has meant that lots of people are sitting down way too much. And this is often with seating, desks and screens that are far from ideal.
Unfortunately, there is a price to pay for this.
Sitting down too much and failing to move your body regularly can lead to:
- Weakened leg muscles
- Back problems
- Stiff neck and shoulders
- Postural issues
- Weight gain
- Anxiety and depression
If you need more convincing of the negative impacts of sitting down too much, then check out our article Why Sitting Is Killing You. This article includes a detailed and helpful infographic.
I'm sure you've come across endless articles and videos on how to choose a diet for weight loss. However, have you thought about what you eat and drink and its effect on your personal energy?
Without the essential nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, you'll never be able to operate at your best.
In fact, a poor diet and dehydration can lead to any or all of the below serious health problems: 
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Tooth decay
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and stroke
- Type-2 diabetes
Clearly, eating a healthy diet is critical to both your physical and mental health. It's also a vital component of feeling energetic and motivated.
Alcohol, Smoking And Drugs
While I'm partial to the occasional glass of red wine, the science is clear that excessive drinking of alcohol is bad news for your body.
As for smoking, I probably don't need to tell you about the negative effects of this habit, but just in case, here's a sample of what it can do to your body:
- Speed up yours skin's ageing process
- Increase your risk of the eye condition macular degeneration
- Can lead to erectile dysfunction in men
- Put you at risk of gum disease
- Put you at risk of lung cancer
- Put you at risk of heart disease
As I'm sure you can imagine, developing any or perhaps several of the above would crush your confidence and kill your energy.
Recreational drugs are even worse. Not only can they damage your physical health, but studies clearly show how their prolonged use can lead to severe mental health problems.
Low energy and drive can of course be directly related to medical issues.
Let's take a brief look at some of the common medical causes behind feeling tired all the time...
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
CFS can be described as extreme fatigue that lasts for 6 months or more and can't be explained by an underlying medical condition. Unlike normal fatigue, it doesn't improve with rest. And mental and physical activity makes the feeling of tiredness even worse.
As well as fatigue, CFS sufferers can experience:
- Memory and concentration issues
- Disrupted sleep
Low-Grade, Chronic Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s way of fighting against things that harm it, such as toxins, injuries and infections. When something attacks or damages your cells, your body responds by releasing proteins and antibodies. Your body will also increase blood flow to the affected area.
Typically, this response would only last for a matter of hours or days, but in the case of chronic fatigue, the response lingers for weeks, months or even years. This can lead to a number of health conditions, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Mouth sores
- Chest pain
This is a debilitating and serious disease which results in sufferers having their breathing repeatedly start and stop during their sleep.
If sleep apnea is not treated, it can lead to complications such as:
- Heart disease
Thyroid disease is a medical condition that prevents your thyroid from making the right amount of hormones — which are essential to keep your body functioning normally.
Hyperthyroidism is when your thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, causing your body to use energy too quickly. As well as making you feel tired, it can also lead an increased heart rate and a feeling of nervousness.
Hypothyroidism is the opposite. This is where your thyroid makes too little thyroid hormone. This also makes you feel tired, but in addition, it can lead to weight gain and an inability to tolerate cold temperatures.
There are various reasons why people develop thyroid disease, including the fact that it can be passed down through families.
Check for these signs of a thyroid problem: 7 Signs of a Thyroid Problem That You Should Not Ignore
This is a medical condition in which the hemoglobin or red blood cell count in the body is lower than normal.
Although some people with anemia have no symptoms, others experience:
- Pale skin
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of heart racing
There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. It can also be a long-term or temporary condition, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
Anemia can be detected with a blood cell count (CBC) test. Here're also some signs that you may be lack of iron: Signs You Might Lack Iron (And 9 Iron-Rich Foods for Your Diet)
This chronic disease occurs either when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces or when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin — which is a hormone that regulates blood sugar.
Raised blood sugar (hyperglycaemia) is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and can lead to serious damage of the body, especially the nerves and blood vessels. In 2014, 8.5% of adults aged 18 years and older had diabetes.
Common symptoms that diabetics experience include:
- Constantly feeling thirsty
- Low energy
- Slow healing of wounds
- Blurred vision
- Increased urination
There are various causes and medical treatments for diabetes.
Your Solution to Boosting Energy
In this section, I'll introduce you to the tips and techniques for boosting your energy and getting your life back.
1. Mind What You Eat
If you lack essential nutrients, it's inevitable you'll lack energy. A healthy diet can help break you free from feeling tired all the time. It can also restore your drive and motivation.
We need plenty of this vital macro nutrient. In fact, about 60% of our body is made up of water and it's crucial for the balance of our body fluids. These fluids are required for body processes such as: absorption, balance of body temperature, circulation, digestion and transport of nutrients.
To help cleanse your body and keep it hydrated, aim to drink a large glass of water before breakfast and before drinking coffee.
People have been consuming ginger for over 4,000 years, and for good reason. Ginger has been shown to ease muscle pain, improve circulation, eliminate inflammation, reduce migraine pain and boost the immune system. In other words, it's a superfood that can help you restore your health and vitality.
Due to its high amounts of fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients and vitamin C, this small berry is often referred to as the 'king of fruits'. The natural nutrients in the berries can help improve heart health, fight cancer, and boost brain function and cognitive health.
This powerhouse food is chock-full with vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. As well as being a great energy-boosting food, it also has the ability to lower cholesterol as well as reducing the risks of cancer and heart disease.
You can choose to eat them raw, as almond butter or almond milk. You might also want to consider soaking them for up to 12 hours to help aid in the digestion of them.
This fermented, probiotic tea can help detoxify, heal and boost your body’s energy levels. Kombucha is a mixture of brewed tea and SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast) and contains an abundance of organic enzymes, amino acids and vitamins. Find it in most health stores or buy your own kombucha brewing kit.
This superfood is packed with vitamins A, B2, B12, D and E. It's also an abundant source of protein, calcium and iron. Eggs are also an incredibly versatile food and can be cooked in many different ways. Try to choose free range and organic eggs if possible.
Popular at breakfast time, oatmeal is blessed with high levels of soluble fiber and protein. It can also help lower cholesterol and control blood pressure. From my experience of eating oatmeal for breakfast, I can definitely recommend it as a healthy, filling food that boosts and sustains your energy levels for several hours.
Known as nature’s sports drink, coconut water has high levels of minerals (especially potassium) and is tasty way to boost your energy. You can choose to drink the water by itself, or blend it with strawberries and bananas to make an exotic and tasty smoothie.
For breakfast and snack recipe ideas, check out our articles 20 Easy and Healthy Breakfast Recipes for Rush Mornings and 25 Healthy Snacks for Work: Decrease Hunger and Increase Productivity.
Supplements for Energy
Over the last few decades, there has been an ongoing debate about whether nutritional supplementation is necessary or not. Some people argued that a healthy diet is all you need, other people have said that modern food growing and processing methods have meant that our food no longer has sufficient nutrients to keep us fit and well.
Personally, I fall into the latter camp. My reason? I've noticed tangible health and energy benefits when I take regular supplements.
While taking a good quality multivitamin/multimineral is a key element of effective supplementation, there are also a number of other supplements that you can choose to take that will specifically boost your energy levels:
• Vitamin B Complex
This supplement contains eight B vitamins: B-1 (thiamine),B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-7 (biotin), B-9 (folic acid) and B-12 (cobalamin). These B vitamins play an important role in maintaining your health and well-being. B vitamins are essential for optimum brain function, cell metabolism and energy levels. They can also help prevent infections and aid your nerves and digestion.
• Vitamin D3
While Vitamin D is generated in the body through sun exposure, it's not always possible or desirable to get this vitamin in this way. That's why Vitamin D supplements have become one of the most popular supplements in the world today. Vitamin D can help you maintain healthy bones and teeth. It may also protect you against a range of conditions and diseases, including Type 1 diabetes. As a recent study by Newcastle University shows, Vitamin D is also vital for making our muscles work efficiently and for boosting our energy levels.
While most people should be able to get sufficient iron from their diets, some people with low iron levels may benefit from increasing their iron intake. Low iron levels are quite common, and if left untreated, can develop into a more serious condition known as iron deficiency anemia (IDA). This is a condition in which your blood doesn’t contain enough healthy, oxygen-carrying red blood cells. As a result, you may experience symptoms such as lack of energy, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating and tiredness. Getting your iron levels tested regularly can help you identify and treat low iron levels before they potentially develop into IDA.
This supplement, due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids (particularly DHA and EPA), may help you to stay physically fit, improve your cognitive performance and fight chronic inflammation. Look for a supplement that contains 1,000 mg of DHA and EPA combined daily. If you're vegan, vegetarian or allergic to fish, there are plant-based options made from algal oil, which is the the marine algae fish eat to produce DHA and EPA.
Used as a traditional herbal remedy for thousands of years, the health benefits of ginseng are impressive. The herb helps protect the body against stress and fatigue. There is also evidence to show that ginseng can help to boost the immune system, while other studies have found that ginseng can lower blood sugar levels. Several variations of the plant from around that world have been discovered, with the most popular varieties being Korean, Siberian and American.
These are live microorganisms that can be consumed through fermented foods or supplements. Probiotics promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria and have been linked to a wide range of health benefits. These include boosting: digestive health, mental health, and overall immunity. As well as fermented foods, you can also take probiotics as capsules, tablets and powders.
This spice contains an active ingredient called curcumin, which is linked to many scientifically-proven health benefits. These include: fighting inflammation, treating and helping to prevent diabetes, delaying or reversing Alzheimer’s disease, treating depression, and protecting your body from dangerous free radicals. As you can imagine, when you lower inflammation, pain and infection, you'll feel stronger and naturally have more energy.
2. Coffee for Energy
While some people primarily drink coffee for its pleasant taste, other people choose the beverage as a way to give themselves a natural uplift due to its high caffeine content.
However, coffee also has several other benefits beyond tasting good and giving your energy a boost. These include:
- Helping you stay focused and alert
- Helping you burn fat
- Helping boost your physical performance
Of course, you can definitely get too much of a good thing, and coffee is no exception to this rule.
For the best daily energy boost without disrupting your sleep, I recommend you consume about 400mg of caffeine in a morning. That’s around 2-3 espresso shots or five teaspoons of instant coffee. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, then it’s recommended that you limit your caffeine intake to about 200mg per day.
The secret to drinking coffee for energy is to make sure you only drink it in a morning. That's because caffeine stays in the body for quite some time. Studies show that it leaves the body at a rate of about 11% per hour. This gives it a half life of about 6 hours. To put this in practical terms, if you drink a cup of coffee with 100mg of caffeine at 10am, you’ll still have about 50mg of caffeine remaining in your system at 4pm.
For more information on this topic, check out the complete coffee guide: The Ultimate Coffee Guide For Energy Boost.
3. Move Your Body
When you move your body and exercise regularly you will see some tangible physical and mental health benefits, including:
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- Increased blood circulation
- Weight loss
- Strengthened bones and muscles
- Improved lung capacity
- Enhanced sexual health
- Increased energy
Of course, many people feel they don't have enough spare time to dedicate to exercise. If that's you, then please don't miss our comprehensive guide Too Busy To Get Fit.
Whether you want to do simple stretches, or exercise in your local park, at a gym or in your home, the secret to getting and staying fit is to start small. By doing this, you'll reduce your chance of injury, and you'll also find it easy to keep going and to eventually increase the amount and intensity of exercise you do.
And remember, even if you don't want to do high-intensity gym training, it's still incredibly beneficial to spend at least 20 minutes per day walking outside. Do this, and you'll quickly notice some definite physical and mental health benefits.
4. Hack Your Sleep Cycle
Deep, restful sleep is essential if you want to have the energy and mental resilience to face the inevitable challenges each day brings. Sleeping well will also increase your productivity.
Before giving you some quick tips on improving your sleep, let me first say a few words about sleep cycles.
Sleep cycles consist of stages 1, 2, 3 and 4 and REM (rapid eye movement). Many people think that a typical sleep cycle consists of only one cycle through the stages, but in reality, our sleep does not progress through all of the stages in sequence. Our sleep starts with stage 1 and then moves into stages 2, 3 and 4. After stage 4 deep sleep, stages 3 and then 2 are repeated before going into REM Sleep. Once REM is complete, we usually return to stage 2 sleep.
For context, 4-5 sleep cycles are optimal to get a good night’s sleep as each cycle takes around 90-120 minutes to complete.
If anything disrupts our sleep cycle — like drinking coffee in an evening or staying up too late — then it means you won't sleep properly and you'll likely wake up feeling groggy and fatigued.
Fortunately, there are some simple sleep habits you can do to ensure your sleep and sleep cycles are operating normally and naturally:
- Build a night routine
- Practice yoga poses that help you to sleep before going to bed
- Reduce blue light exposure in an evening
- Sleep and wake at consistent times - try one of these these sleep trackers to help you to do this.
- Don't eat late in the evening
- Make sure your bedroom is dark and at a cool (but not cold) temperature
When you regularly sleep well, you'll boost your immune system, maximize your athletic performance, as well as supercharging your memory and productivity.
For more help on getting a great night's sleep, check out our articles The Importance of Sleep Cycles on Productivity (+ Tips to Improve Yours) and Your Night Routine Guide to Sleeping Better & Waking Up Productive.
5. Release Stress the Healthy Way
Stress and mental health issues —which are particularly prevalent during the current coronavirus pandemic — can affect our energy levels, so it's best to find healthy ways to lift our mood and relieve stress.
Some healthy ways to reduce stress include:
- Practice mindfulness
- Deep breathing
- Finding a hobby
- Chatting with friends and family
Here's a list of self-care ideas to help you deal with stress in a healthy way: 5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful
Of course, some people try to deal with severe stress by turning to drugs, alcohol and smoking. These are of course bad and unhealthy habits that you should do your utmost to avoid. For help overcoming any of these, please see our specialist articles:
- How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind
- 3 Confirmed Tips To Help You Beat Your Drug Addiction
- How to Quit Smoking Efficiently
If you find it difficult to deal with stress and anxiety, then click through to read our articles below:
- Anxiety Coping Mechanisms That Work When You’re Stressed to the Max
- How to Manage Anxiety: Sound Advice from a Mental Health Expert
- 15 Simple Ways To Overcome Depression And Sadness
6. Find Your Motivation for Life
Your energy and drive are directly related to how motivated you feel about your life. That's why it's vital that you have purpose, meaning and direction in life. Without these things, you'll feel lost, confused and demotivated.
Thankfully, it's never too late to find your motivation for life.
You can do this by spending some time thinking about what you enjoy in your life. Think of your hobbies and also think about things that you're naturally good at (perhaps time management or creativity). The trick is to unveil your life purpose. This is the thing that will get you jumping out of bed every morning. The thing that will excite and motivate you for years to come.
Check out the Ultimate Guide on Staying Motivated for inspiration.
With motivation comes energy; and with energy comes productivity and results!
Restore Energy And Get Your Life Back
When you put into practice some of the tips suggested in this article, then you'll not only be able to get your energy back — but you'll also be able to get your life back!
From morning until night, you'll have the energy and drive to accomplish the things you want to do. Procrastination and low productivity will be a thing of the past for you. People will notice the difference in you too; I guarantee it. They will begin to see you as a can-do, confident and driven person.
Once you boost and sustain your energy and performance to the highest possible levels, you'll be ready to take on and overcome the world.
So make today the start of a new, exciting life.