Shoot down seasonal sluggishness

01:50, Jul 01 2013
Drink Water
MORE H2O: Drinking water is one of the easiest ways to feel revitalised.

Winter is the ultimate energy zapper. With all those warm hearty meals, fluffy blankets and blasting heaters, how could you not want to bunker down? Here's how to beat it.

1. Go for the H2O

Just because it's cold doesn't mean you can cut down on your water intake, especially when air con is blasting.

"Half our blood volume is made up of plasma, which is mostly water," explains Pam Stone, director of education at Blackmores. "So even if you're sightly dehydrated, blood becomes thicker and your heart has to work harder to circulate it."

This causes sluggishness and headaches, but is easily solved by upping your water intake (note: not energy or sports drinks). The latter (high in electrolytes) is particularly pointless, says Stone, because when you're dehydrated, the salt composition in our blood stays the same.

2. Dial M for magnesium


Thanks to savvy marketing, most people reach for soluble B-group vitamin tablets when they need a pick-me-up. But Stone says magnesium is just as effective, especially when it's in pure powder form and can be mixed in a glass of water mentioned above.

"Up to a teaspoon, once a day is good, taken either in the morning or at lunch time."

3. Get some greenery

Slumped over your desk like Quasimodo? If weather permits, go outside, find a green space, sit down and breathe deeply.

Research has found time in nature increases energy levels, boost a person's vitality and makes you feel more animated. Once you return, your performance levels will naturally increase too.

4. Let there be light

No green spaces nearby? No worries, still head outside. In winter, our vitamin D levels naturally decline because we stay indoors and wear more layers.

But research from the UK found a link between vitamin D and mitochondria activity (the batteries to our cells) - it makes our muscles work more efficiently which increases our energy levels.

In winter, the Cancer Council recommends two to three hours of sunlight to the face, arms and hands spread over a week.

5. Change your posture

When you do return to the office, fight the urge to stay stationary for hours at a time. This causes poor posture which generates fatigue.

"When you change your position and put yourself in a more ideal posture, you're taking the tension out of your muscles and stimulating oxygen supply instead," says Marcus Dripps, national president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association.

"This washes out some of the lactic acid and by-products of the muscle activity and sends a message to the brain that you're feeling much better."

6. Follow your nose

We have millions of smell receptors in our nose which shoots information to the brain. If you're feeling less than par, put this mechanism to use with a candle, face spritz, room diffuser, essential oil or cup of tea.

Amy Smith from organic aromatherapy company Perfect Potion recommends citrus scents like lemon, lime or bergamot for their uplifting and refreshing properties, grapefruit to make you feel more cheerful and sweet basil to invigorate. If it's concentration you're after, reach for products containing rosemary, peppermint or cypress.

7. Change up your breakfast

This one is a no-brainer. Winter equals coma-inducing comfort food higher in fat and refined carbs. But if you have a solid, low GI breakfast in the first place, your blood sugar levels will be balanced so you'll be less tempted to reach for a dodgy pick-me-up.

"Low GI Foods like high fibre breakfast cereal, grainy breads, fruit and legumes give you energy for longer, help you feel fuller for longer and help to keep you regular, which adds to your feeling of wellbeing," says accredited practising dietitian Lisa Renn from Body Warfare Nutrition. If you do feel the need to snack though ...

8. Aim for the big O

As in orange. "They are low GI, a good source of dietary fibre and also contain natural sugars (fructose and glucose), which are the preferred source of energy for the brain," says Renn.

In other words, you get a longer-lasting but also completely natural boost.

Can't tell your oranges apart? We'll make it easy: the navel variety are in season now. And if you remember from before (see point 6), the scent of citrus is energising. Double victory.

Sydney Morning Herald