Lack of sleep isn’t the only thing sapping your energy. Little things you do (and don’t do) can exhaust you both mentally and physically, which can make getting through your day a chore.
1. You skip exercise when you’re tired.
Skipping your workout to save energy actually works against you. In a University of Georgia study, sedentary but otherwise healthy adults who began exercising lightly three days a week for as little as 20 minutes at a time reported feeling less fatigued and more energized after six weeks. Regular exercise boosts strength and endurance, helps make your cardiovascular system run more efficiently, and delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. So next time you’re tempted to crash on the couch, at least go for a brisk walk—you won’t regret it.
2. You’re not consuming enough iron.
An iron deficiency can leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, weak, and unable to focus. “It makes you tired because less oxygen travels to the muscles and cells,” says Goodson. Boost your iron intake to reduce your risk of anemia: load up on lean beef, kidney beans, tofu, eggs (including the yolk), dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, and peanut butter, and pair them with foods high in vitamin C (vitamin C improves iron absorption when eaten together)
3. You’re a perfectionist Striving to be perfect
—which, let’s face it, is impossible—makes you work much harder and longer than necessary, says Irene S. Levine, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. “You set goals that are so unrealistic that they are difficult or impossible to achieve, and in the end, there is no sense of self-satisfaction.” Levine recommends setting a time limit for yourself on your projects, and taking care to obey it. In time, you’ll realize that the extra time you were taking wasn’t actually improving your work.