With months of cold weather behind us and months to go before spring arrives, it's easy to get bogged down by the gray skies and cold temperatures. Rather than let this time of year make you feel tired and depressed, learn how to make the most out of the remaining winter months.
Try the following tips to maximize your energy levels:
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Get outside: Sunlight has been shown to improve mood by boosting serotonin levels and giving you an all-around good feeling. If you're able to get outside on a sunny day, go for a walk around the block. The sunlight and brisk walk will recharge you and clear your mind.
Exercise: Yes, exercise requires energy, but once you get moving, your body will release endorphins that put you in a better mood. Strength training, yoga and outdoor winter sports are all great for stress reduction and overall health this time of year. Consistent exercise can also help to regulate blood sugar and will lesson mood swings associated with low energy and sugar cravings.
Clean up your diet: We all know that nutritious foods are good for us, but diet has a major effect on overall energy and mood as well. Start your day off right with a complete breakfast that includes a quality protein, fat and carbohydrate. This will fuel your body and make you feel more alert and focused. On the other hand, sugary foods will cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate and therefore energy and mood will fluctuate as well. Too much alcohol can cause depressive mood swings and can cause a feeling of weakness through dehydration. Remember, your body is fueled by the foods you eat, so the better the food, the better you'll feel.
Plan a getaway: We all need a break every once in awhile. A simple vacation or a day at the spa might be just what you need to get your energy back on track. If you find it hard to stay focused or productive throughout the day, take a break to recharge and get yourself back in the zone.
Rest and recover: Just because the days are short and the nights are long doesn't mean people are getting more sleep this time of year. Our normal circadian rhythm can really be thrown off with the time change and the long hours of darkness. Try to stay on a consistent sleeping schedule each night so your body and mind knows when it's time to rest and when it's time to wake. The quality and amount of sleep you get will directly affect your mood and energy levels, so it's important to rest hard if you work hard.
So taking a few simple steps can go a long way in keeping you feeling your best. Don't let winter get the best of you. Keep your energy up and your mood in check.
• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. For more health and nutrition tips, visit PushFitnessTraining.com.