Last year was exhausting. And ‘normal’ is still a long way away. That’s why we’ve been looking into all the different kinds of ways we can stay motivated, positive and full of energy.
Because the desire to become one with the couch and shun all real-life responsibilities is growing with every day that passes – and as tempting as it is to become a sloth for the first half of 2021, we know we have got to keep motivated.
So here are some tips for keeping energy levels up this winter. And remember, it’s not all or nothing folks. It’s progress not perfection. Just make a few small but intentional changes which will help you get you through the next few dark and cold months.
Watch what you eat
A good diet is a super easy way of making sure that your energy levels are up- while we are at home, learning to cook and trying new recipes is sure to be fun, and can also help to stimulate your brain.
To make sure you are fuelling your body with energy, you must make sure that the foods you are eating benefit your gut microbiome – try incorporating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit into your everyday meals.
A good mixture of protein, iron, fibre and carbohydrates will help your body release the energy it has gained slowly throughout the day- helping you stay energised for longer.
Stay on top of this by planning and cooking meals ahead of time, so you don’t find yourself getting to lunchtime and just eating whatever is at the front of the fridge. If you’re anything like us, this will the least healthy thing in the house.
Make a big batch of soup and add fun but still healthy bits to the side (kimchi toasties, vegetable and bean quesadillas and so on). Being healthy, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what eat.
Up that Vitamin D intake
Being locked up in our homes during the winter months is sure to have a big impact on our Vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is known to help our bodies keep healthy and fight infections. Getting exposure to light is really essential nowadays, but this isn’t so easy when we only finish work after the sun has gone down.
To perk yourself up, and to get a break from the indoors, try to spend your lunch breaks outside- go for a walk and give yourself a change of scenery.
If the weather doesn’t allow you to do so, make sure your food is rich in Vitamin D (oily fish, mushrooms, fortified dairy and non-dairy substitutes). And at the very least, if you can’t tear yourself away from work, try to set up your desk near a window.
Vitamin D tablets can also be your best friend during these colder winter months. Taking supplements isn’t cheating. Sometimes they are the easiest and healthiest way to stay healthy and full of energy.
Even during the best of times, exercising in winter is hard. But it’s also one of the very best ways to reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning.
This will surely keep you more energised throughout the day. But don’t go from zero to one hundred – you’ll end up either hurting yourself or hating it so much that you’ll revert back to a couch dwelling hermit.
Set yourself some really attainable goals – even if that goal is just put on something that isn’t loungewear and go for a big walk.
Alternatively, you can join some of the countless online classes which are being streamed daily from countless gyms, or even do some YouTube yoga. Get your body moving in whatever way you can. It will make a huge difference.
Make time for yourself
Practicing mindfulness, and particularly trying out some simple meditation practice, has been linked to a whole host of cognitive benefits.
Giving yourself the opportunity to relax, quiet the mind, and focus on your breathing can boost the brain’s executive functions, reduce impulsive and emotional behaviour, improve your mood. it can even leave you feeling energised. It’s like restarting your computer when it’s oh so slow.
This is an especially effective technique to use after a draining workday to achieve a productive, feel-good evening.
And the internet is full of meditation guides and tutorials. You don’t need to spend all your money on a meditation master – free guided meditations online will do just fine.
So many common issues can be fixed by just drinking more water. Feeling hungry after eating a mountain of food? Drink more water. Got dry or puffy skin? Drink more water. Feeling bloated? Drink more water. You’re a bit cranky? Drink some water.
And the same can be said for when you’re feeling low on energy. A study conducted at the University of Connecticut’s Human Performance Laboratory found that being even mildly dehydrated can have effects on your mood, energy level and ability to think clearly.
Keep a water bottle on your desk and make an effort to keep using it throughout the day. And no, drinking tea and coffee instead of water is not a good solution – just drink more water folks. It’s that simple.
Don’t sleep in
The temptation to sleep in is strong these days – especially with the sky being so grey. Getting out of bed when the room is soaked with sunlight is so much easier.
So, keep setting those alarms and give yourself some me-time before starting work.
This can either come in the form of a little walk around the block or making yourself a decent breakfast while listening to the radio. Feel free to read the news, but don’t expect that to cheer you up so much these days.
Nonetheless, you’ll feel motivated and full of energy if you get just the right amount of sleep and stick to some sort of schedule.