3 Common Stressors That Deplete Your Energy

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  • 28 Dec 2023
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Have you recently experienced increased anxiety, depression, or anger? According to the latest Stress in America research, an incredible 84% of Americans experienced at least one of these stress-related feelings in the two weeks preceding the poll. Although knowing you're not alone might be reassuring, the prevalence of this specific shared experience is unsettling. But first, what exactly causes stress?

What Causes Stress?

Some deeper issues lurk beneath the surface of this collective situation: emotions of helplessness and a decreased sense of assurance.

Control over many aspects of our life has been taken away as a result of a series of events over the last year, leaving us dissatisfied, terrified, and uncertain about the future. It's as if someone grabbed the puzzle of our life, disassembled every bit we'd meticulously placed together, then shook them up and dropped them on the floor. On top of that, we're attempting to put it all back together while trudging through in survival mode, day after day, on repeat—that's enough to drain even the Energizer Bunny.

From this state of disempowered overload, it's tempting to believe there's nothing we can do to recover our footing and fight the stress. But it couldn't be further from the truth.

Let's look on the bright side: we can all boost our energy and reduce stress by changing a few simple behaviors.

When everything feels out of control, here are three frequently neglected areas where you may regain control and eliminate the regular sources of stress that sap your vitality. Each has been shown to directly compound stress and drain energy when left unmanaged, but to improve energy and stress alleviation when controlled proactively.

1. Sleep Quality Secrets to Snub the Stubborn Stress-Fatigue Cycle

You may be aware of how stress interferes with or inhibits a good night's sleep. Frustration over the events of the day or fear about what may happen tomorrow are typical roadblocks to getting enough zzz's. But did you realize the opposite is also true?

Even partial sleep deprivation has been proven in studies to have a substantial influence on mood. According to one study, volunteers who were confined to 4.5 hours of sleep every night for one week felt more worried, furious, depressed, and cognitively fatigued. They also reported a significant increase in mood after returning to normal sleep.

In addition to these immediately mood-related symptoms, a lack of sleep can induce hazy attention, weariness, and impaired information processing, all of which can lead to secondary stressors. As we fall behind schedule, struggle to collect scrambled thoughts, suffer the consequences of knee-jerk reactions, and fight the inevitable downsides of exhaustion, such as clouded judgment, inhibited self-control, and difficulty making decisions or completing tasks, we feel as if the walls are crumbling around us.

Unfortunately, our preferred solutions are actually counterproductive. Two of the most popular drugs used in direct response to not getting enough sleep—alcohol to calm us enough to go asleep and coffee to get us up after not getting enough sleep—only degrade our capacity to secure regular and deep sleeping, creating a vicious cycle. Using these "band-aid fixes" merely exacerbates and prolongs our stress.

Finally, sleep deprivation hinders our capacity to make wise decisions when it comes to recovering control over the various sources of stress that sap our vitality.

2. Focus on Comfort Food for Extra Energy and Simple Stress Relief

The term "malnutrition" is frequently connected with food scarcity caused by poverty. In the medical realm, however, the prefix "mal-" also means "defective." By widening our knowledge of this phrase, we can see that nutritional shortages may and do occur in people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

The industrialized world's hustle culture has resulted in a plethora of quick and accessible food (and, let's be honest, "fake food") alternatives that are barely nutritional. According to the USDA's most recent Dietary Guidelines, over two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, although inadequate consumption of nutrients known to both reduce stress and enhance energy (e.g., B vitamins and magnesium) is prevalent. The data plainly reveals that the quality of our food is disproportionate to the amount for the vast majority of individuals in the United States.

This reality has been exacerbated by pandemic-related stress eating, which is so pervasive that participants in a September 2020 research averaged a shocking 7 pound weight increase in only 4 months. This picture reveals that the meals we want, whether for comfort or convenience, are typically heavy in sugars, saturated fats, and simple carbohydrates—all of which increase the body's stress response.

The fact that the abbreviation for the American eating style is SAD (Standard American Diet) is a funny-not-funny irony. We readily forgo nutritional demands in order to save time and money, both of which are poured back into the system that forces us to be so busy. We are lured to unhealthy comfort foods like moths to a flame in an attempt to relieve stress, yet these meals simply make us feel more stressed and exhausted.

Making healthy dietary choices can be difficult for many individuals. The mental conflict may be just as stressful and depleted of energy as the food decisions themselves. Don't worry if you can relate. It is not required to concentrate on calorie counting or weight reduction at this time.

3. A Surprising Battle for Your Attention, and How to Win the War

For highly motivated people, the urge to be "always-on" has long been a key source of stress. We live in an internet-centric society, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic's conditions. Working from home has blurred the distinction between personal and professional boundaries, and many people are suffering as a result.

The culmination of difficulties from the previous year has also kept people riveted to the news and their newsfeeds. If you ever feel irritated, nervous, unhappy, hopeless, or fatigued after viewing the news or reading through social media, this might be one of the primary sources of stress that is draining your energy. In fact, after seeing the film, participants had higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a negative response to following stressors.

According to research, cellphones and social media applications alter our brain's dopamine-driven reward system to build a habit that mimics gambling addiction. Even if these technologies are free, they have the potential to drain something far more valuable—our time, energy, and peace of mind.

This dynamic combination may be causing a baseline stress that has led directly to some of the other stressors discussed in this article, such as a lack of sleep, the use of alcohol or caffeine, and unsupportive food choices/mindless eating.

Putting the Pieces Back Together

By changing our perspective, we might consider these lifestyle choices as active sources of stress rather as stress aftereffects beyond our control. Circumstances may have jumbled our puzzles, but we each have the ability to reassemble them.

We may stop addressing things in a passive or reactive manner and instead take conscious action to enhance our everyday lives with a few basic modifications and a commitment to change. Simply halt, take a step back, and recover control—then watch as the jigsaw pieces of your life fall back into place with more invigorated ease and tranquility.

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