5 natural ways to lift your energy levels for winter
Heading into the cooler and darker months can impact our wellbeing both physically and mentally. Sometimes, in the absence of long sunny warm days we might need a little ‘boost’ to regain some energy. Follow along for some simple natural tips to lift your energy levels this winter.
I’m sure we can all relate to a stressful period in life in which we felt completely drained.
Stress is a stimulus which is perceived as a threat by the brain and triggers the in-built sympathetic nervous system response (aka fight or flight). The perception of a stressful, threatening or frightful situation triggers the release of a sequence of hormones that create physiological changes in our bodies. This system evolved from nature's in-built survival mechanism, designed to give us the boost of energy we need to prepare us to fight or flee. You might notice your sympathetic nervous systems activation by way of increased breathing and heart rate, tensing of muscles, flushing of the skin and widening of the pupils. While activation of this system was essential in the palaeolithic era to run from the tiger, in the modern age this system is often triggered too frequently and improperly, which does not allow for us to recover from this state of physiological stress and can wreak havoc on our bodies if we are left in this state for too long, including affecting our energy levels. Without the balance from our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest phase) over time many systems in our body can go awry. The parasympathetic nervous system undoes the work of the fight or flight response following a stressful situation. This branch is responsible for reducing breath rate, improving digestion and the reproductive systems and decreasing blood pressure. Research has shown that practising slow breathing may assist in promoting parasympathetic nervous system activation. We suggest resonance breath work - have a google and give it a go!
2. Have a glass of water
Yes your mother was right! Water is essential for many processes in the body, to name a few, temperature regulation, absorption of nutrients and digestion. When we don't meet our adequate water intake can make us feel tired and experience brain fog. The current guidelines are between 8-10 cups each day for an adult and 4-8 for kids. If you’re struggling to meet your water intake try adding some fruit or citrus to your water bottle or venturing out to some caffeine free herbal teas.
3. Get moving
We all know exercise is good for us both physically and mentally. The benefits to our mental state occur through complex systems that can even be activated with only a short time spent exercising. Exercise reduces levels of stress hormones in the body and stimulates the release of hormones that are natural painkillers and mood boosters.
4. Sleep Hygiene
Getting more sleep might be an obvious solution to increasing your energy levels. The problem is that many of us find it difficult to fall asleep, leading to a reduced amount of quality sleep. There are, however, some steps we can take to prepare our body for sleep. First is going to sleep at the same time every night, this may not always be possible but varied sleep times have been linked with poor quality sleep. This brings us to tip number 2, don’t lie awake in bed. If you’re feeling a little restless in bed and are unable to nod off in less than 20 minutes, get out of bed and do an activity that makes you feel calm until you become more tired, this will better position your mind to relax once in bed. Activities might include reading or a puzzle. Tip 3 is probably the hardest of all… turn off the screen for as long as possible before bed. The blue light from screens blocks the hormone melatonin - the hormone that plays an important role in our natural sleep wake cycle (circadian rhythm). This means you will find it more difficult to get to sleep and will also shift your ability to fall asleep further into the night and early morning. Also, using a red light filter during the evening will minimise impact to melatonin.
5. Improve pain levels
There is no doubt sleep and pain are intertwined. People who are suffering with pain will often be unable to get comfortable and may attempt to sleep in less than ideal positions which may create further problems. People with chronic pain will also often wake more frequently throughout the night, affecting both sleep quality and quantity. Sleep is essential for recovery, so it makes sense that we should get adequate rest to help our bodies recover from injury. Chiropractors not only work with acute or recent injuries, they also work with chronic pain conditions. Many chronic pain conditions are experienced in the back, joints or head (headaches). Sometimes, there might be an obvious physical event from which the chronic pain stems, however a lot of the time, there is no clear underlying cause. Our team of Gisborne chiropractors will take a thorough history and perform an examination to identify potential structural and mechanical causes which may be causing or contributing to your pain. With an accurate diagnosis, an appropriate treatment plan can be implemented to maximise results.