Do you find yourself feeling more lethargic and drained during the winter months? You are not alone! Here are some simple things that you can do to improve your energy levels in the winter.
It is very easy to become less active during the winter, simply because of shorter days, and less-than-ideal weather for outdoor exercise. You might intuitively think that doing physical exercise when you are feeling tired will just make you even more tired, but the opposite can often be true. Moving your body regularly gives you more energy and helps reduce feelings of fatigue. 1 2 It can be hard to motivate yourself to exercise when you are feeling drained, so start small, with something easy like 15 minutes of gentle yoga practice each day, and work your way up from there.
Limit Alcohol Consumption
With the uptick in holiday parties and family gatherings during the winter, many people find themselves indulging in alcohol more frequently than at other times of the year. It is easy to find yourself drinking a mug of mulled wine here, and a holiday cocktail there, without really noticing that your alcohol intake is going up, but what you will notice is how tired you are. Alcohol has sedative properties and can make you feel drowsy and fatigued. 3 Alcohol can also interfere with your sleep quality and make it harder to fall asleep, so you may miss out on crucial rest when you are drinking alcohol regularly. 4 5 If you are feeling fatigued this winter, try limiting your alcohol consumption.
It can be difficult to remember to drink as much water as you need in the winter, simply because of the temperature. During warm seasons, your body will feel hot, and you will naturally reach for a glass of cold water to help you cool off. This is not the case in the winter, so many people drink less water, which can cause severe fatigue.
Dehydration causes tiredness, negatively impacts mood, and makes it difficult to focus, so it is very important to make sure that you are getting enough water every day. 6 7 You should be drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water per day (1 glass = 8 oz). If you have trouble remembering to drink water in the winter, try tracking how many glasses you drink by noting it down in a day planner or in the notes app on your smartphone. One very large water container can also help you track how much you are consuming.
Vitamin D boosts energy and improves mood. 8 Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that we tend to get without actively seeking it out during the warmer months because the body absorbs it from sunlight. In the fall and winter when there is much less sunlight available, most people do not get enough Vitamin D. During the winter months when you may not have access to much sunlight, you can get Vitamin D by taking supplements or eating foods such as mushrooms, egg yolks, red meat, sardines, and milk. Additionally, people with more melanated skin require increased sunlight to manufacture Vitamin D, and are more prone to deficiencies.
These diet and lifestyle changes can help to boost energy when you have regular seasonal fatigue, but if you find that these changes do not improve your chronic tiredness, there may be another underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Talk to a naturopathic doctor to determine the cause of your fatigue.