Fight the urge to stagnate during winter with these tips for supercharging your happiness and energy levels during the colder months
Winter. Just thinking about it makes you want to crawl under the covers and hibernate until September, right? Of course, it seems only natural. Winter is the season of stagnation … except, stalling now would make you miserable. The world’s very different today. You need to perform at your peak no matter the season. And the last thing you want is to fall behind. Here’s how to have more energy and boost your mood and happiness for a more fulfilling life, all year round.
1. Stretch every morning
Stretching improves your blood circulation, warms up the muscles and delivers oxygen to every part of your body. It also helps re-engage your body’s natural tissue ‘waste removal’ processes after a good night’s sleep, re-energises you and keeps stress in check.
Check out our guide to stretching properly every morning.
2. Get regular exercise
You can’t beat exercise for boosting energy levels. Being active improves blood flow, which strengthens your heart and makes you feel generally more relaxed and energised. And the more you exercise, the better.
Mitochondria are tiny organelles in each cell that break down nutrients to feed to your body. They’re like little power plants inside each cell, supplying you with energy. But, if you don’t exercise, your body stops producing them. The more you exercise, the more your body produces and the more energised you’ll feel.
Even a brisk 10-minute walk every day can make the world of difference. So, it really is worthwhile braving the cold and keeping active during winter.
We identified a few simple but effective exercise ideas in our holiday fitness guide, but they’ll work perfectly as brief, powerful winter exercises to do at home, too.
3. Eat healthily
This can be a tough one. Winter is the time of temptation where comfort foods are concerned. These rich and sometimes fatty foods are meant to console and satisfy but, all too often, they do the exact opposite. High-calorie and sugary foods trick your body into thinking you’re more hungry than you really are, leading to over-eating and lethargy.
Healthy foods, on the other hand, deliver all the necessary energy-boosting nutrients without sapping your energy. For a fun winter alternative to juicing, try souping– turning anything and everything into a delicious, rich broth – it’s one of 2017’s most popular health trends, and for good reason, too.
4. Laugh a little
We know, easier said than done, right? But there’s some method to this. Simply laughing forces positive physiological changes in your body, from bolstering your immune system and promoting the spread of oxygen in your body to burning calories and (naturally!) enhancing your mood – all of which helps boost your energy levels.
Now, it just might be worth getting together with friends socially (see point 7), or actually going to see a stand-up comedy show or light-hearted movie. But, by far the most effective effort could be to cultivate a good-natured approach to everyday life. Perhaps teaching yourself to observe and indulge in what you see and hear around you is enough to make you smile.
Or, more likely, know what you enjoy doing and plan those activities into your schedule. You’re more likely to feel better doing the things you love.
5. Focus on probiotics
It’s hard to wrap your head around at first, but scientists today believe that our gut bacteria have a much larger effect on us than previously thought. There is some reason to believe that all manner of symptoms, from fatigue to stress, may be related to an imbalance in flora in the stomach.
On the flipside, studies are showing that a healthy digestive system promotesincreased energy and a better mood. So, work some wholesome fermented foods into your diet or take a multi-strain probiotic supplement daily to help restore the balance.
6. Try some sun therapy
Before we go any further, please note that you should protect yourself against sun damage all year round – even during winter. And note that sunscreen (even SPF50) is simply not enough anymore. That said, the lack of light in winter (shorter days) might be triggering your body’s stagnation mode, leading to a lack of energy. Counter it by spending some time in the sun.
Not only does sunlight stimulate the production of vitamin D in your body, but it also energises you and helps restore your normal sleep-wake cycle. A short lunchtime stroll in the sun can do wonders for restoring energy.
7. Get enough sleep
Supercilious as it may sound, some people stay up much too late, only to bemoan their near-constant fatigue. Blame Netflix or the demands of modern day life, if you like, but your body relies on the restorative and regenerative processes that happen only while you sleep.
Six to eight hours is the recommended amount of sleep. Some people need more, others less. But it’s important to figure out how much you need, and then ensure you get that amount every night. Because it’s not just about feeling tired – your body processes cellular waste during sleep, which, in turn, gives you more energy during the day.
Sleep is vital for skin health too. See our list of remarkable skin benefits of a good night’s sleep.
8. Get social
Yes, we tend to crawl into our little shells a bit in winter. But spending time with friends and family helps elevate your mood and might just motivate you to do some of the things you enjoy (see point 4 about laughing).
Make a conscious effort. Invite your friend to the movies, or invite the extended family to a pasta night. Besides, it might be just what they need to lift their spirits and feel more energised this winter too.
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