This time of year can be a bit depressing in the northern hemisphere, it’s still the middle of winter so the days are short, the nights are long, and the excitement of the Christmas holiday season has well and truly gone. If you work in an office you may even have days where you don’t get any natural light if you aren’t able to get out for a quick break during the day. Then after work you probably want to curl up all warm inside and hibernate.
While it’s natural to have times in the year where we have more energy and times when we have less, the winter in particular can take its toll on stress and energy levels even more so than during the warmer, brighter months, as sunshine is a natural mood enhancer and energy boost. In the winter it can definitely feel like more effort to get things done.
In the colder weather we also crave more warming, rich and heavy foods such as meat, pastas and potatoes and if you are opting for convenience or processed foods to fill this hunger, you may also be feeling lower in energy as these foods generally offer little nutritional value.
Taking care of yourself on a daily basis is so important for keeping your energy levels up, stress levels down and helping you feel on top of your game – both at work and home.
Here are seven simple self-care actions that if done regularly will help to keep you feeling well and more energised, as it really is the small things done consistently over time that add up to the greatest results.
1. Drink enough water: this is so important for keeping you feeling alert, after all our bodies are mostly water. Aim for a glass of water every hour throughout the day if you can. In the winter it might be preferable to substitute for warm water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a herbal tea.
2. Get some 'me-time' every week: doing something that you love or that relaxes you. This could be simply doing a facial at home or joining a book club – as long as it is something you enjoy and that is for you. This will make you feel good about yourself and thus happier and more energised overall.
3. Ditch the processed foods and limit caffeine: as tempting as it is to go for a quick fix, as you will get an instant high and then crash even more afterwards leading to low energy slumps. Instead look for healthier options – perhaps even try out some new healthy recipes.
4. Eat small amounts, regularly throughout the day and include some good protein and fats such as nuts and avocado, plus fresh vegetables and fruits, as this can help to keep your energy balanced. If you are craving heavier, warming foods, root vegetables and wholegrains can help with this and won’t leave you feeling exhausted as they release energy slowly into the body.
5. Take a few long deep breaths away from your computer screen and in fresh air (ideally), as this will reinvigorate you and relax you. If you can do this throughout the day you will notice the calming and energising effects.
6. Getting enough sleep is really important, if you find it hard to sleep try turning your devices and phone off (or on to airplane mode) at least an hour before you go to bed. Also try dropping a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow which can help you to fall sleep.
7. Move your body every day, ideally through some form of exercise which you enjoy – walking, dancing, yoga, whatever feels good to you. If you can’t manage this, start with some simple stretches each morning and then a couple of times throughout the day to get your blood circulating. Even jumping up and down on the spot can help to get the energy flowing!
I hope these small tips are helpful in keeping you feeling well at work, and on top of your game as you care for yourself on a daily basis. Rather than drastic all or nothing approaches, doing just one or two things a day and adding to them slowly, can make a difference over time. Ultimately it’s also about finding things that work for you and fit into your lifestyle so experiment and have fun too.
Tara will be giving a talk on ‘Increasing energy at work’ at the Office* show on the 1st March 2018, at Kensington Olympia