The arrival of dismal weather and shorter days, not to mention the constant barrage of covid-based doom and gloom and hokey cokey restrictions, really started to have an impact on my energy and enthusiasm levels earlier this month.
As someone who is usually irritatingly chipper and energetic, no matter what the season or time of day, feeling so un-driven (not sure that’s even a word!) has come as quite a shock to me.
After two weeks of barely leaving the couch, other than to use the bathroom (think eat, sleep, work from the couch, repeat) I decided to pull my socks up and give my daily routine an energizing overhaul.
No matter where you are in the world, what your lockdown status or what season you’re in, if you’re feeling a little lackluster at the moment, hopefully you can cherry pick from some of my energizing ideas. I’m no expert, but making a few simple tweaks to my routine has really ramped up my mojo!
Light it up
First things first… let there be light! I’ve realized recently that I have been spending much of my morning shuffling around the house in darkness or artificial light since the turn of the fall (or autumn as we say here in Blighty). Rather than throwing open the drapes on a morning, I got into a habit of simply switching on a lamp as I headed downstairs to make my morning cup of tea. However, I hadn’t realized the impact this was having on my mood… until now. According to scientists, bright light helps to shut down your sleepy-time melatonin production making you feel more alert. Natural light, no matter how dull, is much more effective at doing this than most forms of electric light – particularly the fashionable but rather dim filament bulbs I use at home. So now, I make it the first thing I do when I wake up – I open every blind and drape in the house as wide as possible. I have genuinely noticed a real difference in my energy levels since doing this.
Gorge on ginger and lemon
After a long stint in bed, it’s important to give your system a boost. Too many of us rely on caffeinated beverages, such as tea and coffee, to get ourselves going in the morning, but I’ve ditched these in favor of my new morning ritual… hot water with a spoonful of honey, grated ginger and a slice of lemon.
It’s a beautifully warming concoction during the colder months and helps to ease cold and flu symptoms, too (bonus!). The wondrously warming spicy ginger boosts your immune system, spikes metabolism and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels, while sharp, zesty lemon kicks your digestive system into gear and puts your body back into an alkaline state, which is exactly where it wants to be. It’s filled with a whole lot more goodness than that frappe-latte-chino you’re used to!
Apply some pressure
Next up, I’ve introduced acupressure into my life. It sounds a little out there – perhaps something Phoebe from Friends would advocate – but bear with me.
According to a study in the Global Journal of Health Science, self-administered acupressure can help kick-start mood and mental alertness first thing in the morning. Try massaging the fleshy pressure point in-between your index finger and your thumb – this is known as the large intestine point and helps to move energy around your body. Ideal if you’re feeling sluggish first thing.
Stretch it out
As the chillier months roll in, I’ve noticed my enthusiasm for exercise really starting to wane. The thought of donning my sneakers and pounding the pavements on an evening run – something I usually love – has been filling me with dread.
But rather than ditching the exercise altogether, I decided to change up my routine because, despite it being the last thing you feel like doing in winter, exercise is actually a wonderful way to boost your energy levels.
So, rather than my usual fare, I have turned… to yoga. Researchers have found that yoga was effective in improving fatigue, stress and anxiety and you don’t need to be a seasoned yogi or spend hours on a session to reap the returns. A simple combination of spinal movements – including elements of forward and back bending, twisting and floor-held release – can be enough to loosen your body. My favorite pose at the moment is the Cobra Pose, which is where you lay on your front then lift your chest, straighten your arms and tilt your head back – it really opens my chest and focuses my breathing. Namaste!
So, after opening my drapes, sipping my warming drink and enjoying a 10-minute yoga session, I jump in the shower before I start my day. This in itself might not seem revolutionary, but I have added one little element to my morning shower that has revolutionized the way I feel. I have started using a gentle scrub alongside my usual body wash. Aside from the exfoliation and moisturizing effects, body scrubs stimulate the circulation and lymphatic flow, detoxifying your body and leaving you feeling invigorated.
I also finish my shower with a quick 30-second blast of cold water. Research has found that a cold shower alone could be enough to counteract some of the effects of fatigue.
And finally, just before I settle down to my morning meeting, I put on a couple of my favorite tunes. Studies have shown that listening to music for about an hour a day can help reduce fatigue, while singing along to your favorite anthem is said to decrease tension and ramp up that heart rate, as well as increase those feel-good endorphins. It’s amazing how much happier I feel after a good old sing-along. So, go forth and re-energize …