It’s January, the Christmas and New Year festivities seem a distant dream and you are possibly feeling a bit flat, apathetic and finding it hard to knuckle down to work and refocus.
Plus, despite the time off and the ‘new year, new year’ resolutions you very likely feel strangely tired and not at all refreshed and revitalized.
That tiredness tends to be exacerbated by dark, grey and cold days and as a survey from vitamin brand Healthspan reveals the average worker currently spends the equivalent of more than seven and half years of their life feeling tired.
That means out of every 24 hours nearly three of these are spent feeing drained and lacking in energy – that’s more than 20 hours a week or six weeks of this new year.
Four in 10 surveyed say they feel like they’re living their lives ‘running on empty.’
Most hit a particular energy low just after lunchtime – when four in 10 of us turn to tea and coffee in the hope a caffeine jolt will help energize us.
Fifty-eight percent have cancelled nights out with friends due to tiredness.
So what can you do to re-energize and refocus?
The average worker currently spends the equivalent of more than seven and half years of their life feeling tired. Here’s how to get out of the slump
1. Bring on the sunshine vitamin
Eating a healthy balanced diet will, obviously, help you get the vitamins and minerals you need to give you sufficient energy and help you to avoid any nutritional deficiencies that can be a symptom of tiredness.
Medical Nutritionist Dr Sarah Brewer says, ‘When you’re having to cancel social plans or things you really enjoy doing simply to catch up on sleep or recharge your batteries, it may be down to something as simple as a vitamin or mineral deficiency.
It is not widely known that a lack of vitamin D is associated with tiredness and exhaustion but other nutrients involved in preventing tiredness include B vitamins, vitamin C, iron and magnesium.
You should always try to get these from your diet but if you are running on empty a multivitamin and mineral plus extra vitamin D is a good idea’.
We get vitamin D primarily from exposure to sunlight and given that there isn’t much around at this time of year most of us will benefit from supplementation like Healthspan’s Super Strength Vitamin D3 Peppermint Oral Spray – sprayed into the mouth the vitamin is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream.
2. Put a cap on the coffee
One significant energy drainer that is not always immediately obvious is dehydration.
As Nutritionist Fiona Hunter says, ‘Most of us don’t drink enough during the day and even mild dehydration can cause us to become lethargic. A study from Tufts University in the US shows that even a loss of 1-2 percent water is associated with fatigue.’
It is worth pointing out this this level of dehydration is unlikely to register as you even feeling thirsty and our ability to feel thirst becomes diminished as we age – so keep yourself well hydrated throughout the day by drinking every couple of hours – ideally water and non-caffeinated herbal teas – and choose food with a high water content like fruit and vegetables.
Caffeine has its place – most of us turn to a coffee, cola or tea to quickly perk us up and help us think straight – but it is also a diuretic and can leave you dehydrated. It can also interfere with deep sleep which leaves you feeling shattered when you wake up, so making you crave more caffeine to jolt you into action.
Ideally, try to stick to no more than two to four cups a day.
3. Concentrate better
To help you through Dry January if you are doing it, plus keep you hydrated whilst potentially improving your powers of recall try drinking water with added rosemary essential oil.
Used for thousands of years as a memory aid, a clinical trial from 2016 showed it improved memory in children.
No 1 Botanicals Rosemary Water contains carefully extracted rosemary to hydrate you (even mild dehydration makes it harder to concentrate) and the rosemary should make your brain less foggy.
To help sharpen your focus further try Potter’s Memory & Focus CDRI 08.
Containing a plant extract of Bacopa monnieri (commonly known as water hyssop, a herb often used in Ayurvedic medicine) this remedy has been found to help with concentration, memory and learning retention.
For another potential brain sharpener try Healthspan Moringa Brain Greens containing dried Moringa leaves, a plant known to contain kaempferol which has been linked to increased brain health.
4. Pre-empt the post lunch slump
Why is mid-afternoon the time the nation goes into a collection energy slump?
Fiona Hunter suggests it is an evolutionary throwback: ‘In prehistoric times our ancestors woke early to hunt for food, once they’d eaten it was then time for a nap to digest food and avoid the heat of the day.’
Given most of us can’t take a nap at our desks she points out the food we choose for lunch can have a significant impact on that slump.
‘Carbohydrates like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes trigger production of the neurotransmitter serotonin which makes us feel sleepy and relaxed.
‘Protein, on the other hand, triggers the release of dopamine and noradrenaline which keep the brain alert and awake so swapping your lunchtime sandwich or pasta salad for a protein rich meal like an omelette or chicken salad could fight off afternoon apathy.’
She also says if you eat an early lunch or skip it completely blood sugar levels will probably plummet around 3pm and this could be the time for a healthy snack like a yogurt, banana, dried fruit or a couple of oatcakes with peanut butter.
5. Be more mindfully tired
Technology has its many benefits but being hooked up to it 24/7 can also be one of our biggest energy sappers, not least because most of us are almost permanently ‘on call’.
Psychologist Dr Megan Arroll encourages us to take a ‘digital detox’ one day a week but simply taking a daily short phone-free walk can help leave you less distracted and more focused and energized.
Plus, practicing a few minutes of daily mindfulness (focusing your attention on something in the present to calm you) can help you to become more ‘mindfully’ tired – acknowledging your feelings of tiredness but becoming mindful of what exactly your worn out body and/or brain needs (better food, exercise, more sleep, time off and more quality time with the people you care about).
Dr Arroll suggests this simple walking mindfulness exercise could help energize you: ‘As you walk notice the sound of your feet as they hit the ground, feel the air as it swooshes past your face. If you walk mindfully, you’ll feel calmer and more alert after this exercise.’