Holiday times are usually a time when you need high energy for all the family get-togethers, gift buying and cooking that are piled onto your day-to-day routine.
But this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, family gatherings will be smaller, big meal festivities will be downsized and gift buying may go online.
Disappointment can leave you feeling sad, lonely, stressed and low energy.
It seems we could all use a boost to our energy level and mood as the holidays approach.
I hope you find these tips helpful.
1 – Schedule Movement Breaks
Prolonged sitting can lead to feelings of low energy and low mood. Break up your work or relaxation times with more movement. Getting outside in nature and breathing fresh air is always an added plus.
Set a goal to walk outside daily, weather permitting, for 30 minutes. Invite a family member from your pod and bring your dog along if you have a companion pet.
On bad weather days, you can accumulate 30 minutes of walking time inside your home or use home exercise equipment if you have it.
More movement will help both your body and mind to feel better.
If exercise is a struggle, there are also small actions you can start doing today do to help boost exercise enjoyment.
2 – Understand the Food-Mood Connection
If you’re someone who vacillates between skipping meals and overeating, know that eating at both ends of the spectrum – not enough or too much food – can lead to the same feelings of low energy.
Eating too much of the wrong types of foods such as sugary rich desserts can also leave you with a sugar high and energy low.
You also don’t want to ignore drinking water as feeling thirsty can often be confused with feeling hungry.
Eating regular, healthy meals, staying hydrated throughout the day and including planned healthy snacks can help stabilize both your energy level and mood. Choosing higher-fiber meals that also contain lean protein and healthy fats can boost feelings of fullness too.
3 – Improve Sleep Hygiene
Getting enough hours of restful sleep goes a long way toward helping to give you a boost to your energy level and mood the next day.
Establishing a restful bedtime routine is important and may include taking a warm bath, doing stretches, meditative breathing, reading a book or listening to a sound machine. If possible, you also want to avoid emotionally charged conversations close to bedtime.
What you eat and drink at dinnertime and after matter too. Big dinner meals, spicy foods, rich desserts, alcohol and caffeine-containing drinks can all disrupt sleep.
If you awake during the night and are unable to go back to sleep, it may help to leave the room, do a quiet activity under soft light and then go back to bed, to avoid conditioned insomnia.
4 – Find the Fun with ‘Flow’ Activities
Although the pandemic has created so many hardships, it’s still important to find activities that you really enjoy and can lose yourself in – called ‘flow’ activities.
‘Flow’ activities vary from person to person; some examples may include knitting, dancing, riding a bike, walking in nature, coloring, playing games on your smart phone or reading a book.
The key is to find something you find relaxing and invigorating and do what you can to make time for that activity on a regular basis.
Finding fun and enjoyment regularly will give the biggest boost to your energy level and mood.
Here’s to better days coming in the months ahead.
Stay safe and be well!
Robert Kushner, MD