For many people, the onset of the winter months can trigger a form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), sometimes called the “winter blues.” But for many more, the limited sunlight, inclement weather and restricted activity just leads to them feeling sluggish and zapped of energy. Now more than ever, it’s important to pay attention to your lifestyle habits and incorporate those that can help keep your energy level stoked. Here’s a rundown of the best winter picker-uppers:
Get at least 10 minutes of sunlight daily. Even on a gray day, try to get outside, gaze skyward and let the light hit your eyes. Sunlight plays a role in the production of serotonin—your body’s regulator of energy, mood and sleep quality.
Rev up your body. If you’re stuck indoors, try to at least get up and walk around the office as much as possible. Take the stairs. Walk up and down the grocery aisles at a quick pace. This sends fresh, oxygen-rich blood pumping to your muscles for more stamina, and to your brain for more focus.
Load your menu with vitamin-D rich foods. Especially if you live in northern climates where sunshine is scarce for months on end, you may lack sufficient vitamin D levels, needed for energy. Dairy foods are rich in this “sunshine vitamin.” Other good vitamin D sources include fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
Switch to slow-release carbs. Comfort foods are usually full of sugary “simple” carbohydrates, which release quickly into your bloodstream. This prompts an instant spike in energy, but then an abrupt crash, leaving you feeling extra sluggish. One tasty alternative is a hearty bowl of oatmeal. Oats release carbohydrates more slowly into your bloodstream, leaving you with sustained energy. You’ll also feel fuller longer and less likely to reach for that sugary donut mid-morning! Try tossing in a handful of nuts—they’re chock full of energy-boosting protein, another natural energizer.
Take on something new. Whether it’s volunteering for a challenging work assignment or signing up for a painting class, this time of year it’s especially important to find fresh interests to spark your enthusiasm and momentum.
Keep indoor temperatures moderate. Overheated indoor air can trigger sleepiness. On the other hand, if you’re shivering in a drafty room, your body will expend energy trying to keep warm, which can be uncomfortable and distracting. If you’re in an office where you can’t control the thermostat, be sure to dress in in layers to put on—or remove–clothing as appropriate. Consider a mini desk fan to keep stale, stuffy air moving.
Sip green tea. Like coffee, green tea contains caffeine, but its amino acid (L-theanine) content is reported to leave you feeling alert, yet calm, without the jittery side effects of caffeine in coffee or black tea. As an added bonus, green tea is also full of vitamins.
For Health Advocate Members
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program and have issues with depression, talk to your Health Advocate Licensed Professional Counselor. You’ll receive free, confidential help, and if needed, referrals for additional support.
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with our Advocacy services, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate who specializes in behavioral health. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.