The habits you adopt in your 20s and 30s often stick with you for your entire life. If you make an effort to improve your lifestyle when you’re young, you won’t have to spend time later on trying to undo all the bad habits you developed.
Your early adulthood years are a time in your life to travel, meet new people, and find yourself. However, if you don’t find a proper life balance, you may notice a dip in your energy.
Here are 12 habits to develop in your 20s and 30s to optimize your energy levels.
1. Don’t ‘Binge Sleep’
Instead of chronically under-sleeping and trying to catch up on the weekend, try to spread your sleep equally throughout the week. If you get up at 7:00 a.m. on weekdays for work but noon on the weekend, your body will have trouble regulating its natural sleep-wake cycles.
A study published in BNC Public Health examined the effect of a sporadic bedtime on the sleep quality of university students in Taiwan. (1) The researchers found an irregular bedtime positively correlated with sleep disturbance.
2. Limit Sugary foods
Chronically eating sugary foods can wreak havoc with your insulin levels. A high-sugar diet may negatively affect healthy metabolism, body composition, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, among other body functions. (2) (3)
To avoid a ‘sugar crash,’ try eating low glycemic carbohydrates from whole-grains, starchy vegetables, and fruit.
3. Include Cardio into Your Workout Routine
If you’ve ever experienced runner’s high, you know how great you can feel after going for a hard run. Not only does cardio exercise improve your heart health, but it can also increase feelings of wakefulness.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at the effect of heart health on energy levels. (4) The researchers found that even in individuals who appeared healthy, participants with stronger heart function reported fewer fatigue complaints.
4. Laugh More
Laughing is one of the best ways to increase your overall health. It’s thought that laughter helps decrease levels of your stress hormones like cortisol and boosts your immune system. (5)
A cross-sectional study published in 2016 by researchers in Japan found that frequent daily laughter is associated with stronger heart health. (6)
5. Become Part of a Community
Even if you’re a lone wolf, finding a community you identify with can make you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Research shows that a strong sense of community is positively linked to overall well-being. (7)
A community can be a group of people you live near or it can be a group of people who share your common interests. If you have any hobbies you’re particularly passionate about, you may benefit from searching for local groups in your area.
6. Do Activities that Make You Happy
Mood and energy are closely related. Research shows that happy people have lower levels of cortisol than people in a bad mood. (8)
A study published in 2018 looked at the effect of social activity on the mood and energy levels of seniors. (9) The researchers concluded that promoting social activity increased scores of happiness and lowered fatigue.
7. Choose Low Carb Alcohols
Beer and sugary cocktails are loaded with carbohydrates. It’s no secret that drinking too much can cause weight gain (alcohol contains seven calories per gram).
However, sticking to types of alcohol with few or no carbohydrates like vodka or gin can easily cut the number of calories in half.
8. Take a Nap to Recharge Your Batteries
Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from a nap. Most people hit a wall mid-afternoon. However, if you do nap, try to keep it under 30 minutes or you risk becoming groggier than when you went to sleep.
Research shows that naps as short as 7-10 minutes can increase cognitive function and alertness. (10)
Keeping your bedroom free of clutter creates a more relaxing sleep environment. In his book Sleep, sleep coach Nick Littlehales recommends reserving your bedroom for sleep and sex so that your brain associates the room with relaxation.
9. Watch Your Micronutrients
Even if you’re getting enough protein, fat, and carbohydrates in your diet, you might still suffer from low energy if your micronutrients aren’t balanced. Vitamin B12 and iron are two common deficiencies that can cause lethargy.
Shellfish, spinach, and red meats are among the best sources of iron. Vitamin B12 is found primarily in animal products like fish, meat, eggs, and poultry.
10. Don’t Develop a Caffeine Dependence
If you depend on drinking caffeine to make it through the day, drinking your morning coffee is only going to bring you back to baseline. Caffeine also increases levels of your stress hormone cortisol. (11)
You can avoid developing a caffeine dependence by varying the amount of caffeine you drink day to day and occasionally avoiding caffeine. This method keeps your body from relying on a daily dose of caffeine.
You could also try switching to green or black tea, which has less caffeine than most coffees, if you are finding it difficult to cut out caffeine completely.
11. Don’t Starve Yourself on Diets
Restricting calories may seem like an easy way to affect your body composition. However, uncontrolled calorie restriction or restricting a specific macronutrient from your diet. (12) For example, restricting calories from healthy fats may negatively affect your hormone function, cravings and metabolism.
We recommend to consult your nutritionist or healthcare practitioner when considering major changes to your eating habits.
12. Spread Your Exercise Throughout the Day
Of all the habits to develop in your young adulthood, this is one of the most critical. If you hit the gym hard for an hour every day but you spend the rest of your day sitting or lounging around the house, you’re still essentially sedentary, which is possibly the worst habit for your health.
Try to break up periods of sitting with regular movement breaks even if you regularly exercise.
This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.
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