When summer vacation season is in full swing, it’s easy to blame tiredness, stress, and low attention span on scorching temperatures, the FOMO of your friends’ tropical vacations, and planning your own get-away. But if you’re so fried that you’re barely pushing through one day at a time at work, you might want to take a look at what’s really draining your energy levels.
Irregular sleep patterns, stimulants like caffeine and alcohol, and poor diet and hydration may be the top energy zappers, but there’s plenty of hidden stressors sprinkled throughout our days, quietly draining energy levels. This is especially true for our professional lives, as technology now demands 24/7 availability, whether you’re at work or home.
Cut these workplace stressors out ASAP:
1. Constantly saying yes
It’s great to be considered a reliable person in a professional environment. Being known as someone who’s willing to go the extra mile for great results, someone who’s there to help out a coworker in need, or someone who embraces challenging new tasks is a great way to excel.
But constantly saying yes will also result in endless to-do lists, late nights and over-extended shifts, and most likely your own workload suffering. If every time you tick one item off in your calendar, two more appear, you’ll end up completely buried.
That’s why you have to set firm boundaries, preferably from the get-go. When a coworker asks for help, you can still say yes, but add caveats like “I’ll be happy to help, just as soon as I finish my task,” making it clear that you’re willing to lend a hand, but your own workload takes priority.
If you’re trying to get out of a constant cycle of yeses, it will take more time and negotiation to get others used to your new self-care routine — be ready for some careful negotiations.
2. Uncomfortable clothing
This may come as a surprise, but clothing can be a massive background stressor, especially in a professional environment. While the rise of start-ups and the Millennial takeover of the global workforce has done away with much of workplace dress codes, many of us are still at war with our clothing throughout the day.
Materials that don’t breathe will disrupt your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, while clothing that is too tight restricts blood flow and even proper breathing. Low oxygen levels result in decreased concentration and problem-solving capabilities, while overheating disrupts focus.
But clothing doesn’t have to be too tight to elevate your background stress levels. An ill-fitting item of clothing can be just as disruptive: you’re either constantly pulling up your sleeves, readjusting your undergarments, tucking your shirt back in, rolling your socks back up — you get stuck in an endless loop of fidgeting.
Tight or loose-fitting shoes, high heels, or flip-flops can also drain your energy levels. Simply put, your body needs to expend more energy to get you from point A to point B if you’re perched on 6-inch heels or sliding around in flip-flops, your toes gripping the glorified slipper for dear life.
3. Clutter and disorganization
You might be thinking that the last thing you need is to spend time and energy you don’t have on organizing your life, but running around trying to find things, remembering meetings at the last minute and postponing projects right until their deadlines will cost you more energy, especially in the long run.
If you leave all tasks and projects until the very last minute, it forces you into a work mode where you’re constantly putting out fires. Not only does this elevate your stress levels and cost you more energy, but when something unexpected actually happens, you simply won’t have the bandwidth to deal with it.
But it isn’t only your schedule that you need to invest a bit of time and planning into –- you should also take a critical look at your work station. You might not be consciously aware of its effects, but a messy, cluttered, or disorganized work area adds to stress, which in turn drains energy.
You don’t have to go full minimalist on your work area, but even visual clutter is distracting. Try to keep only work essentials and a few personal items within your direct visual field — everything else should be out of sight in a drawer or locker.