Q: My energy level goes up and down. Is it normal to feel sluggish one day and raring to go another? –Anne McNicholl, 61, Montreal, Quebec
A: It can be, especially if “normal” for you means cramming too many activities into one day. Being over-committed is one of several common energy zappers I see in my patients—but that they often don’t see themselves. They think they’re just irritable and depressed. I know, because it happens to me when I try to do too much.
So I check in with my schedule once a week to see what’s eating it up—and then I make sure I add at least two hours of self-care, such as a massage or meditation time, to assure that I get a much-needed energy reboot. Once you become aware of what’s really draining your energy, you can take steps to put yourself on an even keel.
Q: Are you tethered to your smartphone or tablet?
A: Checking Facebook or watching a movie on your tablet before bed interrupts your body’s natural rhythms. The light emitted from these devices sends a signal to the brain to suppress production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. As a result, you don’t get sleepy, you stay up later, and you’re dragging the next day. I start and end each day electronics free, exercising or meditating in the morning, and I read a real book or magazine before bed. At night, turn off the TV by 11 PM and stop reading e-mail around 7 PM.
Q: Do you have toxic relationships?
A: An overly needy friend, a nasty coworker, or a nagging relative can wipe you out. Pay attention to your body’s cues. Are you exhausted after being with certain people? If so, set boundaries. Minimize your interactions with and your investment in these people. If it is a relationship that needs to be maintained, discuss your feelings with that person to see if, together, you can change the dynamic.
Q: What does your house or office look like?
A: If you’re tripping over clutter, simply looking at the mess—and thinking about cleaning it up—will make you feel tired. So do the big job once—with everyone’s help—and then set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day to maintain order. (Check out these quick tips for a clutter-free home.)