Prevention & Recovery

Tired parents: 25 common mistakes that zap your energy

©iStockphoto.com/Valua Vitaly Author: Canadian Living Credits: ©iStockphoto.com/Valua Vitaly

Prevention & Recovery

Tired parents: 25 common mistakes that zap your energy

1. Wardrobe confusion. Too many clothing choices can be stressful on busy mornings. Edit your wardrobe down to the items that you wear now and donate the rest to charity.

2. "Fat clothes." If you have lost weight due to healthy eating and exercising – congratulations! Don't hang on to your old wardrobe "just in case." Stay fit for life.

3. Painful shoes. Get rid of any uncomfortable shoes – except for that one pair of knock-'em-dead stilettos you need for black-tie events.

4. Soda pop. Trade in your soda pop for plain soda water with a twist of lemon. You'll still get the refreshing spritziness, but without the sugar high and resulting sugar crash.

5. Procrastination. "We add stress and lose energy when we put off doing fretful things," says Natasha Barber, a Vancouver-based clinical counsellor. "Clear your mind and move through the motions of completing the task. You'll feel lighter and energized when it is over."

6. Expired meds. Do you dread opening your medicine cabinet to a shelf of bottles that you know you can't just toss in the trash? Drop them off at a pharmacy near you for safe disposal.

7. Email clutter. Delete those piles of old emails and unsubscribe from any e-newsletters you don't actually read -- but only if they're from retailers or reputable organizations you trust. Otherwise, use the "Junk Mail" or "Mark as Spam" buttons in your email program to mark the messages as untrustworthy.

8. Diet angst. Stop stressing over calorie, fat and sodium counts. Just eat 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day -- raw or cooked, and as unprocessed and free of sauce as possible -- suggests Toronto-based registered nutritionist Theresa Albert. If you focus on this goal -- and attain it -- you and your kids won't have any extra room to eat less-wholesome foods.

9. Unhealthy eating.
Poor eating habits are one of the biggest energy vampires around. Improve your eating habits -- in just one easy step per week -- with Albert's book Ace Your Health: 52 Ways To Stack Your Deck (McClelland and Stewart, 2010). This card-format book itemizes the most important steps you can take to improve your health and energy levels, with crazy-good recipes to boot.

10. Bad volunteer commitments. Studies show that volunteering provides an awesome "helper's high" -- but only if it's a good fit. If your volunteer gig leaves you emotionally drained rather than energized, consider volunteering somewhere else.
11. Jacket wars. You find it chilly. Your preschooler disagrees -- heartily -- and wants to frolic sans jacket. It's time for an armistice in this eternal battle of the wills: Let him wear the coat or carry it himself. If he's cold, he'll eventually put it on, honest!

12. Sideline-sitting. Shake off after-work lethargy by trading that camp chair for running shoes and your double-double coffee for a bottle of water.

Then jog, squat and stretch during your kids' soccer practice. You'll all leave feeling energized, alert and healthy.

13. Being hypercritical of yourself. "Stop beating yourself up. You deserve to treat yourself with respect, value and worth," says Barber. "Apologize to yourself. Forgive yourself. Thank your internal critic for trying to keep you on track. And then draw upon your gentler, nurturing side, and treat yourself as you would a friend."

14. Doing your kids' laundry if they are 12 or older. Because, guess what? They can do it themselves.

15. Micromanaging your kids' laundry technique.

16. Micromanaging your husband's dishwasher-loading technique.

17. Negative forecasting. "What if this goes wrong?" "What if that goes wrong?" Sometimes we spend so much time focused on the future, we forget to live in the moment. "Forget the ‘what ifs' and focus on right now," suggests Barber. And remember to breathe deeply and relax.

18. Loyalty cards.
Toss the ones you haven't used in six months, and stop accepting new ones when shopping. Isn't your wallet lighter already?

19. Noise.
The constant racket you're surrounded by (cellphones, traffic, music, office machines and keyboard clatter, for example) can take a toll on your energy reserves. Invest in a pair of high-quality earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones, and use them to get some peace and quiet during your commute on public transit or on foot.

20. Toxic relationships.
If you and your friends bring out the worst in one another, stop wasting each other's time and energy.

21. Facebook frenemies.
If someone's Facebook status updates, photos or comments regularly leave you annoyed or offended, unfriend them. It's really not that big of a deal, and is better than seething every time you log in.

22. Envy. There's good envy: "Darn that Claire in accounting with her shiny hair and amazing 27-minute time in the local five-kilometre race. I'm going to train like crazy and smoke her next year -- in fact the two of us have bet $10 on who wins!" And then there's bad envy: "My brother and sister-in-law's house is worth $200,000 more than mine! Not fair!" Let go of the latter.

23. Late-night TV. If you're a diehard fan of The Colbert Report, record it and watch it tomorrow. Avoid fatigue by reclaiming your eight hours of sleep--  or whatever amount of sleep it is you need. Most adults require between six and eight hours each night for optimum rest.

24. That crick in your neck. Invest in a better pillow, and treat yourself to some massage therapy.

25. The car. Sure, sometimes it's a necessity, but other times -- say, when you're going to get ice cream or hitting the playground -- walking is better. You'll feel young again, getting to see the landscape from a child's perspective -- amazing squirrels, cool street art, splashy puddles and all.
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Tired parents: 25 common mistakes that zap your energy

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