Most of us will agree that getting out of bed during the dark, cold winter days can be challenging. We’ve nearly all had moments where we’ve considered switching off our alarms and hunkering down for the day, rather than facing our responsibilities.
It’s also normal for feelings of exhaustion to be intensified during the winter months – and many people feel more tired and sluggish as a result.
With that said, we’ve put together five energy-boosting tips to help put the spring back in your step. From making the most of the sunlight to eating the right foods, we hope you find them useful.
1. Make the most of daylight hours
When we don’t get enough sunlight, our bodies produce more of the hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. This extra melatonin can disrupt our sleep cycle because we may be more likely to take naps throughout the day and to stay in bed longer than we would during the warmer months of the year.
Therefore, to try to reduce your melatonin levels during the day, it’s important to expose yourself to much natural light as possible. You can do this by opening your blinds as soon as you wake up and getting out for a walk while it’s still light outside.
Some people also find it helpful to invest in a light therapy lamp, which mimics natural light and can help to reduce the effects of winter blues and tiredness.
2. Try to avoid hitting the snooze button
This tip is probably the trickiest to master, but it’s the one that can offer some of the strongest benefits!
While it can be natural to hit snooze and hibernate as soon as your alarm goes off (especially if it’s dark outside), doing so can end up making you feel more lethargic throughout the day. Plus, if you hit snooze and end up oversleeping, this can also leave you feeling stressed or annoyed, which won’t help your energy levels.
Though we tend to feel more tired in winter, humans don’t actually need any more sleep than at any other time of year. According to the NHS, most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep each night.
To make sure your sleep pattern stays consistent throughout the year, it’s best to try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, regardless of the season.
The quality of your sleep is also important and things like, switching off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed and making sure your bedroom is relaxing and comfortable, can help with this.
You’ll find more tips and tricks for how to get a good night’s sleep in the sleep and fatigue section of our site.
3. Incorporate regular exercise into your routine
When the days are short and cold, heading out for a run or bike ride might be the last thing that you want to do – but getting regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to boost your energy levels (and your mood).
However, if heading out into the cold feels like a feat you aren’t ready to tackle, then you could consider doing some workouts at home. Since the pandemic, the face of home workouts has changed and many people have swapped gym memberships for online exercise classes.
As well as meaning that you don’t have to face the weather if you don’t want to, working out at home can also be quicker and more convenient, and many people enjoy the privacy that comes with it. Plus, there’s a huge range of classes to choose from – from weight training and boxing to HIIT and dancing.
For more guidance on how to stay fit from home and tips on how to find online classes, you might want to check out our article; 5 steps to staying fit from home. And if you need an extra dose of motivation, our article, 11 fitness motivation ideas for winter, has plenty more ideas for how to maintain a fitness regime during the colder months of the year.
4. Eat the right foods
Our diet can have a significant impact on how we feel. And once, the sunny days fade away and the evenings get darker, it can be tempting to load up on starchy comfort foods, such as bread, pasta, and potatoes.
While there’s nothing wrong with eating these foods in moderation, it’s important to keep meals as balanced as possible to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients and energy you need. This means making sure to include plenty of vegetables, as well as a healthy dose of protein.
If you don’t enjoy eating salads in the winter, then there are plenty of warming winter veggies you could add to your meals, such as carrots, parsnips, leeks, and kale.
There are also certain foods that are known for having a mood-boosting effect, such as bananas, oats, and fatty fish – so you might want to consider incorporating some of these into your diet. You can find out more about these foods in our article; 9 of the best mood-boosting foods.
Many people find that cravings for sugary, starchy foods increase during the winter if they’re feeling tired and sluggish. But it’s important to remember that though these foods may give us a rush of energy, this will wear off quickly – and we may end up feeling even more tired afterwards.
5. Find ways to relax and destress
Many of us experience a dip in mood in the autumn and winter months, and this can be for various reasons. For some people, it may be a result of the change in weather, while others might feel more pressure to get everything done during daylight hours.
Feeling low, stressed, or anxious can zap your energy and make you feel more fatigued, so it can be helpful to find ways to relieve stress and anxiety and keep your mood as lifted as possible.
Everyone will do this in different ways but it could include challenging negative thoughts, connecting with others, or doing an activity you really enjoy. For more ideas, you might want to check out our articles, 7 tips for coping with stress and anxiety and 9 simple stress-relieving activities.
It’s normal to feel a bit more lethargic during the winter months, but luckily there are several things we can do to boost our energy levels and lift our spirits.
If you’ve been feeling unusually tired for a prolonged period of time or you’re concerned that your fatigue might be caused by more than just the weather, then it’s worth making an appointment with your GP, who may do a blood test to check for any deficiencies.