The holidays are over and the football season is about to wrap up. Unless you’re a cold-weather person who enjoys the outdoors, the end of January can bring the winter blues. Because our bodies naturally want to hibernate this time of year, we find ourselves moving less and eating more. In particular, we reach for comfort foods that may be rich in refined carbohydrates and poor fats. Poor food choices, lack of physical activity and the winter blues can leave us feeling sluggish and not quite ourselves. If this sounds familiar, read on for my top five tips for beating the winter blues this January.
Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Your body is approximately 60 to 70% water. Your brain takes priority, which means if you’re not consuming enough water, you may experience dehydration symptoms elsewhere in the body. Believe it or not, constipation, joint pain, headaches, heartburn, back pain and hypertension can be caused by chronic dehydration. Drink half your weight in ounces daily.
2. Quit the Caffeine & Go for Green
Unfortunately, America’s favorite stimulants – coffee and soda – deplete your adrenal glands over time. Your adrenal glands regulate your body’s emergency response and trigger the release of stress hormones. Stress combined with caffeine can leave your brain and body with the wired yet tired feeling. Eventually your adrenals become overworked, which leads to fatigue and eventually exhaustion or burn-out. If you need a pick-me-up, try something gentle, such as a cup of antioxidant-rich green tea or a green smoothie.
3. Eat Your Dark Leafy Greens
Vegetables are full of important nutrients that give you energy and keep your body working efficiently. Dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, spinach and arugula are particularly energy-giving, as they are full of pro-vitamin A, numerous B vitamins, vitamin C and vital minerals such as magnesium, calcium and iron. Strive for at least a half cup of greens each day.
4. Use Natural Sweeteners & Sweet Foods
Sugar and other refined flours deplete the body of vital nutrients. Like caffeine, sugar also overworks the adrenal glands. Avoid sugar when possible or use a high quality natural sweetener such as raw honey, coconut palm sugar, grade B maple syrup or stevia that contains some minerals to help restore your adrenal reserves. Better yet, eat naturally sweet foods such as sweet potatoes, fruit and winter squash. Be sure to play daily to bring a little sweetness into your life!
5. PLAY with Positivity
One of the biggest energy drains are toxic relationships, thoughts and emotions. Negative energy is just that – negative! Start thinking positive. It will do wonders for both your physical and mental health. Do your best to surround yourself with positive people and situations. Do not sweat the small stuff that toxic interactions can bring. Consider incorporating daily affirmations in your life and going on a negativity diet. It’s the only diet I approve!
Come PLAY with Us!
If you would like to practice these strategies and learn new strategies for increasing your energy, join me and Chelsea Calhoun of Groove Dance Fitness for our upcoming PLAY for Energy series at the Glenn Dale Community Center this February. We’ll be doing a FREE sneak peak of the series on Monday, January 28th from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. It’s an opportunity for you to see what it might be like to participate in one of our interactive PLAYgroups. PLAYgroups are full of practical information to jump-start a healthier lifestyle and you’ll have fun while learning. In the meantime, chose one thing on the list to focus on this month. Make it a priority and see what happens with your energy levels. You’ll be shrugging of those winter blues before you know it.
Food photos by Kristen Dill.