With every Fall season comes grumbles and groans about the dark days to come, and I must admit that sometimes those dark days can feel like months of torture. As the lack of sunshine has us wishing that bedtime would come sooner rather than later, and the days linger on like an endless wash cycle… I’m thinking that it’s really too bad we couldn’t just hibernate like bears and skip winter altogether.
Unfortunately, that isn’t an option.
As people living in the northern regions deal with traditional bouts of fatigue and horrendous cases of Couch-Potato-Syndrome during the winter months, some will suffer with even greater symptoms including depression or anxiety that is diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD.
In the attempt at finding a solution, I'm hopeful this list will help keep you feeling happy, healthy, and less tired all winter long!
It has been proven that a lack of sunshine causes your body to naturally produce more melatonin. If you have ever used this handy little bedtime supplement, you know the stuff helps you to feel sleepy. That’s why going days without sunshine can make you feel so tired.
Absorbing sunshine helps your body produce the Vitamin D which is required for overall performance and recovery of your muscles. Sadly, nearly 50% of people worldwide are vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D can be found in a few foods such as fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk and orange juice, but the best way to absorb Vitamin D is by exposing your skin to sunlight – followed by taking supplements.
Since sunshine is pretty scarce in the beautiful state of Michigan during the winter months, another option would be to purchase a light therapy lamp to make it through the darkest days of winter.
You lose water every day through basic bodily functions such as breathing, urination, bowel movements, and perspiration. So if, for example, you are sweating a lot due to a workout, then you will lose even more water than normal. That’s why drinking water every day is so important.
Even the slightest amount of dehydration will make you feel drained of energy. In order to stay alert and feel energized throughout the day, a daily intake of water helps keep the cells in your body hydrated so your muscles don’t fatigue prematurely.
How much water a person should drink depends on many factors. Being male or female makes a difference, your geographic location plays a role, daily activity levels are important, and your current level of health including how regular your body functions are all play a part in determining your specific hydration needs. Maybe you’ve heard that 6-8 glasses of water every day was the rule, but as you can now understand, everyone’s needs are different.
Two simple ways you can tell if you are drinking enough water every day is by how thirsty you feel, and by the color of your urine. Urine should be colorless or light yellow.
You’ll have more energy if you eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis rather than carb loading or comfort eating. Protein also plays a part in staving off hunger and offering you more energy throughout the day.
But how exactly does eating healthier make you feel less tired?
To begin, let’s talk briefly about the “sugar high.” That’s when a person experiences a burst of energy after eating sugary foods followed by a sudden feeling of exhaustion. Sugary foods spike your blood sugar levels, so your body attempts to level things out by increasing insulin levels which is the ‘high’ you feel. The problem is your body tends to release too much insulin which creates a sudden dip in blood sugar levels. This is the ‘crash.’
Instead of riding the sugar high roller coaster every day, choose foods that will offer lasting energy. And since your main meals will only last about 4 hours each, plan on adding healthy snacks in between to keep the energy flowing smoothly.
Healthy carbs offer slow-releasing energy, vitamins and minerals needed for healthy cell processes in the body. Lean proteins will hold you longer between meals and offer support to your muscles. Try adding foods such as oatmeal, eggs, leafy green vegetables, fatty fish, healthy oils, nuts, and seeds for long lasting energy.
Sometimes we don’t get near enough vitamins in our daily diet, and they are so important for our body functions. Boosting up these particular vitamins can help you stave off winter fatigue.
- Vitamin D is needed for the performance and recovery of your muscles. It can be absorbed naturally through the skin by exposing it to sunlight, or can be consumed through fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk or orange juice, and nutritional supplements.
- B Vitamins converts food into energy. They are found in meats, grains, fruits and vegetables, as well as a nutritional supplements.
- Omega-3 is needed for brain alertness and helps to support the energy processes.
Food sources include seafood; dairy and fortified juices; grains with Omega-3s added; leafy green vegetables and brussels sprouts; nuts; and oils with ALA Omega-3s in them. They are also available in supplements, protein powders, meal replacement bars, weight loss shakes, and baby food and formulas.
Exercise releases endorphins making you mentally feel good and your body energized. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime or it will feel like you’ll never get your eyes to close! Depending on what time of day leaves you feeling tired, choosing to exercise before or around that time can offer a burst of energy instead.
30-45 minutes of moderate exercise every day not only offers an increase in muscle strength for added stamina throughout day, it also burns away stress and helps you to fall asleep faster at night.
Practicing good bedtime routines is very important throughout the year to keep your body in a rhythm. Making sure you set a routine during the winter months will also help fight off any excess fatigue you are feeling too.
Set an alarm for morning and plan to bounce out of bed when first you hear it. The more you hit the snooze button, the harder you will make it for yourself in the days that follow.
Don’t nap if you can help it. But if you must take a nap, make sure it isn’t longer than 45 minutes in the early afternoon.
Go to bed at the same time every night. If you’re having trouble falling asleep even though you’ve felt tired all day, you may want to do some investigating into your lifestyle.
Here is a quick list of things that can affect a good night’s sleep:
- Eating Habits
- Screen Time
- Room Temperature
- Noise & Light Distractions
- Sleep Position
- Mattress & Pillow Quality
Oftentimes avoiding stress is easier said than done, but there are some ways to calm yourself down. Here is a short list to get you started:
- Look at what you are ingesting. The foods you eat and drink can affect your body in many ways. Eat healthy to make your body feel better. Also watch your caffeine and alcohol intake to avoid dehydration and feelings of depression and anxiousness.
- Exercise is also a great stress reliever that offers the mind and body a burst of endorphins to help you feel good after.
- Quit the tobacco. Nicotine stresses your body by reducing blood flow and breathing.
- Practice relaxation techniques and do your best to avoid known triggers.
I hope this list helps to uncover your own secret remedy for beating winter fatigue, and energizes you in the months ahead.
Thanks so much for reading!
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