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Laura Breiling
Laura Breiling
Health

Tired Of Feeling Tired? 

Here are the habits that are making you exhausted, so stop it already!

Life as a midlife woman is riddled with an array of challenges that create mental, physical and emotional exhaustion. From an emptying nest to aging parents to dealing with the all-too-weird realities of menopause, this isn’t a season for sissies.

But what if we’re unintentionally contributing to our exhaustion by harmful behaviors? In fact, certain seemingly benign habits subtly chip away at our well-being and leave us fatigued. Time to stop wearing ourselves out, right? 

Multitasking

Award-winning psychologist and emotional scientist Tracy Thomas, also known as “Dr. T,” calls out multitasking. “Multitasking is quite literally exhausting because a person has to hold multiple pieces of information and have a much broader bandwidth of cognitive capacity to solve issues, complete tasks and achieve a desired result,” she says. The more a person stays focused on the exact thing they are doing, the less exhaustion they will feel. Take putting on your makeup while simultaneously considering your to-do list. It’ll take more time overall, Thomas says, because your bandwidth is tackling both objectives, thus slowing down the simple task of putting your face on. Working on two things at once makes even the simple things feel more complex than they are.  

Waking up at different times

To stave off fatigue, Nora Tobin, a performance enhancement and nutrition specialist, reminds us to mind our wake-sleep cycle. “Our circadian rhythm dictates which hormones are released at certain times of day,” she says. To naturally produce melatonin at night, the body needs to be regulated by light and sleep. Wake up every day at the same time and prioritize getting 10 to 15 minutes of natural light each morning, says the brand spokesperson, model and executive coach.

Overreacting 

Thomas says that while some people are by nature more emotionally sensitive and their emotions override them, for others this habit is incredibly self-indulgent, whether they realize it or not. The best-selling author says, “Reactivity takes up a massive amount of energy and has zero ROI [return on investment] for people other than making more of itself.” Reactivity is tiring; people need to move forward with their intentions and priorities, which will be piling up either way, she says. 

Eating low-fat foods

Skip the nonfat latte and add organic heavy cream instead, advises Tobin, founder and CEO of Nora’s Naturals Coffee. Healthy fats are part of a healthy diet, she explains, because the brain is 60 percent fat and cellular membranes are comprised of protective fat. “When we add healthy fats to our diet, everything becomes more efficient.” The body naturally burns fat and stimulates cellular turnover and mental clarity. She recommends incorporating avocado, nuts and seeds, wild-caught fish, grass-fed butter and organic meats into our diets. 

Processing everything excessively

Beware of overprocessing, Thomas says. The “reality is that overprocessing everything that happens to us as a way to feel close to each other, maintain a bond, to get empathy, or to get a self-esteem boost from others, can also lead to a lot of exhaustion,” she says. Resist going over and over something difficult that happened, because this approach is often a delay tactic to moving forward. Ask yourself why you’re sharing something, and if information needs sharing, be brief and straightforward rather than spending excessive hours overanalyzing, she counsels. 

Overuse of screens

Light from our screens stirs up cortisol, the stress hormone that is produced in the morning to get us through the day, says Tobin. Cortisol should naturally taper off in the evening to ready the body for a deep sleep, but screen time excites production and undermines sleep. Tobin explains that ultimately this has a detrimental effect on the thyroid and estrogen levels, adding that it has  “actually been shown that when cortisol is chronically high, the body rapidly stores abdominal fat.” She advises using dimmer screens and committing to a screen-free Saturday or Sunday.   

Trying to figure it all out yourself instead of bringing in an expert

“As an expert who helps people with complex emotional issues that wreak havoc in their lives, I’m amazed by how long people go thinking they should know how to do everything — when in reality no one is an expert in everything and we’re all here to exchange our expertise with each other as a society,” says Thomas. This is one of the most exhausting habits she witnesses, and she says that often it takes a crisis for people to seek help. “Addressing needs and issues as they arise and engaging experts and solutions to get problems solved quickly is much less exhausting.”

Using too many chemicals

“The endocrine and nervous systems are responsible for hormonal balance and energy production,” says Tobin. Be wary of skin-care products that are high in chemicals, she says, noting that it takes only 30 minutes for the skin to absorb products. Instead, she suggests selecting skin care that is free of parabens and phthalates

Complaining

Complaining sucks the life out of you, says Thomas. Thinking or talking about what you don’t like or want, or what you’re unhappy with, often passes for creative problem-solving, but really it’s a draining habit. Evaluate what you want and take action in that direction. When you focus and work toward your intentions, she says, you’re giving yourself an incredible reservoir of energy to navigate life.   

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