Struggling to launch yourself into the new year with gusto? No wonder. It’s a scenario that plays out every January and into the early months of the year – a diet of Stilton and mince pies, plus late nights and increased alcohol consumption in December means that post-Christmas, many of us are lacking joie de vivre.
But if you’re feeling so depleted of energy that you just want the long winter months to be one long duvet day, there are things you can do to redress the balance to avoid hibernating for the entire month. Here’s how to boost energy levels during winter:
1. Get outside
It may be chilly but being cooped up in over-heated environments exposes you to other people’s lurgies – and fresh air is good for you. This is especially true if you can spend time in a green space and even better if you can exercise outdoors: it elevates mood, improves sleep and bolsters your resilience to illness. But wrap up warm – being cold can lower your immunity.
2. Tackle stress
Taking time off over the festive season is lovely, but when nothing gets done for half a month at the end of the year, it means that January can feel extra pressured with increased workloads. Stress lowers your resistance to illness, as does suffering from low mood– so eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly are also important as a drop in blood sugar levels may leave you irritable, tired and depressed. Include mood boosting foods into your diet that are high in B-Vitamins such as wholegrains, eggs and lean proteins. You could also try including an adaptogen botanical such as Rhodiola, taken by people living in Scandinavia and Russia for centuries to help manage stress. An advanced formula like Solgar Balance Rhodiola Complex, which also includes nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamins B3, 5 and 6, is known to be beneficial for immunity.
3. Remember your immune supporting Sunshine vitamin, throughout the year
The body produces about 90% of Vitamin D naturally via exposure to the skin. Increasing research has shown how Vitamin D supports optimal wellness and immune defences. However, during the autumn and winter months, the sun isn't strong enough in the UK for our bodies to produce vitamin D. That means we have to rely entirely on getting it from the foods we eat, which can be a challenge with our busy and hectic lifestyles. Taking this into account the NHS advice is to keep your Vitamin D levels topped up with supplements. An easily absorbed vitamin D supplement like Solgar Vitamin D3 2200IU is an ideal choice to keep the sunshine benefits during those winter months.
4. Stay hydrated
Don’t rely on tea and coffee – every time you put the kettle on, fill a glass with water and sip it. For a hot drink, try green tea. Don’t like the taste? Solgar Green Tea Leaf Extract capsules have all the goodness of green tea in an easy-to-take capsule packed with polyphenols and flavonoids.
5. Cut back on alcohol
Trying to keep the good habits of dry January going? Even if you’re not, try cutting back. Alcohol is not only dehydrating but can suppress your immunity, making you susceptible to illness. Even drinking heavily on just one occasion can change your body’s ability to ward off infection. Try alternating alcoholic drinks with a glass of fizzy water with lemon.
6. Tweak your diet
‘The New year is a good time to tweak your diet,’ says Paul Chamberlain at Solgar. But avoid the temptation to make drastic changes or embark on an extreme ‘diet’. This approach is unsustainable. Instead aim for small changes that you feel are sustainable. For example eating more vegetables, having vegetarian or vegan meals a couple of times a week, substituting sugary snacks for fruit, nuts and other healthy options, switching from white to wholemeal or 50:50 bread. If you have more time at the weekend why not consider making a larger than normal batch of a one-pot dish such as stew, then freeze the leftovers for lunches in the week? Small changes, done consistently are what make the real difference.
7. Additional immune support
To see you through winter, Paul’s favourite winter supplement is Solgar Beta Glucans & Elderberry Immune Complex, which contains the equivalent of 4g of dried elderberry powder alongside immune supporting vitamin D3, zinc, copper and selenium.It also contains a unique form of vitamin C, as well as Ester-C®, that won’t affect sensitive tummies and has been shown to be retained by immune cells longer than regular vitamin C1.
‘Remember that by the end of January, we’ll start noticing the days lengthen and our energy levels rising,’ Chamberlain says. ‘And by then you’ll have everything in place to hit the ground running for creating yourself an awesome new year.
1. Mitmesser SH, Ye Q, Combs M. Determination of plasma and leukocyte vitamin C concentrations in a randomized, double‑blind, placebo‑controlled trial with Ester‑C®. Springerplus. 2016 Jul 25;5(1):116.