Feeling tired all the time and just want to hibernate for a while when winter hits? It doesn’t have to be that way! Infuse some energy into the dark season with these tips and tricks against winter fatigue.
The way you start your day can have a huge effect on your mood. Treat yourself right first thing in the morning with a balanced breakfast! How about whipping up one of our Breakfast Bowls? Tasty, colorful, and so simple to make.
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Why Are You Tired in Winter?
Everyone has probably felt the classic winter fatigue at some point. It usually sets in during December, when the days are at their shortest. At the latest in January, when the Christmas rush and the social and professional hustle and bustle at the end of the year have faded away, the cold can make the couch just too good to leave behind.
Some people are also affected in the fall when the autumn blues hit. Both phenomena are based on similar causes. Of course all factors vary from person to person, but these three tend to dominate:
Other hormones take the lead We produce melatonin based on how much light our bodies are exposed to. The darker it is, the higher your melatonin level; the brighter it is, the lower. The lack of light in the winter months influences melatonin production in your brain and automatically makes you feel tired earlier. As daylight time decreases, your need for sleep increases.
Changes in your professional and social life These changes often begin in the fall: everyone is back from vacation, and things are moving quickly towards the end of the year at work. There are goals to achieve, projects to complete and a new year to plan. This increases workplace pressure and goes hand in hand with fewer opportunities for socializing. Especially in the cold season, the couch is simply more enticing than going outside quickly to meet up with friends on dark winter evenings. This lack of active social interaction makes everyday life more sedentary and makes it easier to give into winter tiredness.
Winter habits Christmas dinner, less exercise, less fresh air. Winter just has a different character to it. And that’s O.K. But, of course, Christmas pudding and cheese fondue make you a little more sluggish than summer salad and watermelon.
9 Tips To Fight Winter Tiredness
Worried that you’ll spend all of the winter months curled up in a ball on the couch? You don’t have to be! With these 9 tips, you’ll gently but firmly fight back against winter fatigue.
#1 Start your day right: with a daylight alarm clock
Replace the sound of the alarm jarring you awake in the middle of your dreams with a daylight alarm clock. It simulates the sunrise and slowly starts to light up a while before your actual wake-up time.
This increase in light stimulates the brain to produce neurotransmitters such as cortisol, which replace melatonin and gradually wake you up. With this gradual process in the morning, you’ll feel like you had a better night’s sleep, and you can start the day with more energy and less fatigue.
#2 Give yourself an extra dose of vitamins
Vitamins are essential for various important metabolic functions to keep your body healthy and your energy levels up. Getting your comprehensive supply of vitamins is extra important in winter weather.
The best-known vitamin for keeping your immune system fit is definitely vitamin C. But one vitamin does not a balanced diet make. If you don’t get your five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, our Daily Vitamins are the perfect solution.
Raw veggies in winter aren’t for everyone. If you don’t want veggie sticks and salads when it’s cold outside, try to cook in the most nutrient-friendly way possible. Steam your vegetables in a little water and use that water to prepare sauces or smoothies to make the most out of the nutrients.
Put a special focus on combating vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is made in your skin during sun exposure. Between October and March, there usually isn’t enough sunlight in northern Europe to maintain normal vitamin D levels. For most people, vitamin D supplements are essential during this period.
#3 Eat a balanced diet
As delicious as Christmas food and winter snacks are, make sure that eating healthy is still part of your daily routine. Eating a wholesome, balanced diet will generally meet your vitamin and mineral needs and keep your blood sugar levels in balance. A good supply of nutrients, and food that makes you feel good, also have a positive effect on your mood and reduce early evening fatigue.
For inspiration on healthy recipes for all seasons, check out our free recipe database with handy filters.
Although you don’t notice it as much in low temperatures, your body is constantly losing fluids. To replenish your body’s water supply, make sure you drink at least 1.5 – 2 liters a day – yes, even during the cold seasons.
Being dehydrated makes your blood thicker so it’s more difficult to keep your organs supplied with nutrients. The heart also has to work harder to pump blood through your body. This is what makes getting enough liquids one of the most important tips against winter fatigue.
Go for hot drinks with warming spices, such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon, and teas or golden milk. A hot chocolate with extra protein is at least as tasty as a piece of cake.
Get more inspiration for hot drinks on cold days here.
#5 Exercise to start the day…
…keeps the winter blues away! Or something like that. Sounds simple, but it really helps. You don’t have to do a 60-minute HIIT workout in the morning. Just 15 minutes of gentle stretching, a quiet yoga flow session, or an easy walk will wake up your body and mind. It’s also best to do it in some natural light. Light will help your body break down melatonin and signal the sympathetic nervous system, which spurs performance and activity, that it’s time to take over.
#6 Go outside
Fresh air wakes you up and releases “happiness hormones” like dopamine. Even when it’s cold! Lack of oxygen to the brain due to not enough fresh air is a common cause of winter blues and headaches. Sure, you could just open the windows, but since you want to move more in the winter anyway, exercise in the fresh air is two for the price of one.
Whether it’s a walk, Nordic walking, jogging, or simply cycling to work: exercise in the fresh air gets your circulation going and gives you an all-around energy boost. Make it a routine to spend at least 30 minutes outside every day.
#7 Maintain your exercise routine
Or create a new one. Not only is exercise a welcome change from a sedentary winter routine, it’s also guaranteed to chase away any pangs of fatigue and winter blues. Exercise regularly to release adrenaline, dopamine, and cortisol, all hormones that make sure you are fully focused and feel good in your body.
Daylight is an important factor in your energy levels. And lack of natural daylight is the most common cause of classic winter fatigue or seasonal affective disorder. One solution is to fit in your 30 minutes of exercise at times of day when the sun is shining outside.
If it’s gray or your daily routine doesn’t allow for regular walks in the sun, light therapy with a daylight lamp can help. Especially when fatigue strikes in the late afternoon, go for 10-20 minutes in front of the daylight lamp instead of coffee or a sugary snack.
Our tip: test out daylight lamps slowly. Depending on how sensitive you are to them, using a daylight lamp too late or too long can make it more difficult to fall asleep. The result: lack of a good night’s sleep, even more exhaustion, and a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
#9 Work with the rhythm of the seasons
No one can go full throttle 24/7, 365 days a year. Spending an extra 1-2 hours in bed every night over the winter and slowing everything down is fine. Don’t let fatigue get you down, just give it the space and acceptance it deserves.
While spring and summer are all about spending lots of time outside, fall and winter are ideal for taking time for yourself. What indoor projects have you been wanting to tackle? Whether it’s reading books, pursuing personal goals, or simply giving yourself more time for relaxation: Use the dark season to recharge your batteries.
Fatigue in winter is mainly caused by a lack of daylight and altered hormone levels. Other changes in dietary and daily habits may also contribute to winter fatigue.
Make sure you eat a balanced diet and cover your vitamin needs in winter, especially vitamin C and vitamin D.
With regular outdoor exercise, sports, a healthy diet, social activity, and perhaps more rest and sleep, you can overcome winter fatigue even in the darkest months.
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