What are your energy levels like? During the cold and dark winter months, many of us battle fatigue of varying degrees. It is harder to get out of bed in the morning and the thought of going outside for some fresh air and exercise after work just doesn’t seem as appealing as it does in the summer months.
So what can we do, short of hibernating 4-6 months and staying well away from energy vampires?
Below you will find 7 long term strategies for keeping your energy levels up and 7 quick holistic energy boosters.
1. Cut right back on caffeine, especially in the afternoons. Caffeine may give you a short term boost but you end up paying for it later. It also disrupts your sleep. The more sensitive you are to the quick energy boost you get from coffee, the worse it is for you long term.
2. Take a Vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is also known as the sunshine vitamin as this vitamin is normally synthesised in the skin during sunny conditions. In addition to boosting your immune system and reducing your cancer risk, it can prevent tiredness and achy bones during the winter months, according to this source. The recommended dosage for adults in the healthy weight range is 2000 IU daily during the winter winter months.
The other thing you can do to make sure you get enough vitamin D in the winter months is to go out for a lunch time walk. 15 minutes may well be enough if you are fair skinned and able to expose some of your skin to the sunlight. However, not everyone lives in a place that sees sunshine in the winter. If you live close to or above the polar circle, you really need to take the supplement all winter.
3. Take a Vitamin B12 supplement. This is especially important if you are vegan as it is very difficult to get enough B12 through a strictly plant based diet. Fatigue and depression, often associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) could be down to either vitamin B12 or Vitamin D deficiency.
4. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Drink at least 2 litres of water daily to keep your cells working at their optimal level. Avoid unfiltered tap water, especially if it is fluoridated. Spring water or filtered water is best. The latter needs to be a reverse osmosis filter to get rid of the fluoride. Keep your water in a glass jar or metal flask to avoid plastic leaching into the water.
5. Get enough sleep. This is a no-brainer but it can’t be emphasised enough. It’s not just how many hours you get that matters but the quality of sleep is also important. The recommendation is to stick to a regular sleeping pattern and get the whole first sleep cycle in before midnight, which usually means going to bed around 10 PM.
6. Stick to or create an exercise routine. If you normally exercise outdoors and can’t stick to your normal exercise routine due to sever weather conditions, try swapping your bike ride for a swim or your run for a fitness class at your local gym. If neither is feasible, there are many free YouTube videos. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most days. It doesn’t have to be all in one go either. Newer research seems to be in favour of many shorter bursts of exercise throughout the day. Always listen to your body and rest if you are unwell.
7. Cut out sugar and fast carbohydrates (high GI). Examples of high GI foods are sugary drinks, sweets, pasta, white rice, white bread etc. Replace this with complex carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods. Complex carbohydrates keep your energy levels even throughout the day and provide plenty of nutrients whereas sugar and fast carbs are just empty calories.
7 QUICK HOLISTIC ENERGY BOOSTS
1. Music Therapy. Play your favourite dance tunes and get up for a little boogie.
2. Essential Oil Therapy. Try putting a few drops of either lemon, peppermint, eucalyptus or bergamot in your essential oil burner. Don’t be afraid to experiment until you find the perfect oil or blend for you!
3. Go for a walk around the block. Just a short walk (especially in daylight) will instantly boost your energy levels and provide your cells with much needed oxygen.
4. Do a few quick stretches at your desk if you can’t get out for a walk. Try the video below at home a few times so that you can memorise some of the moves to use at the office (unless you work from home, of course!).
5. Drink a glass of cold water (but not too cold). Normally, I prefer to follow the ayur vedic advice and stick to luke warm or body temperature water to stay rehydrated throughout the day… but drinking a glass of cold water with a slice of lemon or a squirt of lemon juice can be really refreshing and provide an instant boost.
6. Cat nap. When you feel you are about to crash, you should get horizontal ASAP. A 10-20 minute nap can do wonders. If you sleep for more than 30 minutes, you will enter into the deep sleep stage of your sleep cycle and may feel quite groggy when you wake up.
7. Pranayama. Try the energy boosting breath of fire exercise below for an instant boost! (Doing this regularly will also have long-term positive effects) If you are at the office can can’t start breathing noisily just try slowing your breath down, breathing deeper into the chest and abdomen and making sure you squeeze the breath out fully, to replace stale old air at the bottom of your lungs.