It’s halfway through January and some of those new years resolutions may now be feeling like a bit of a drag… don’t worry, we understand – no matter how good for you it is that evening run in -1 degrees isn’t exactly exciting after a few weeks! With this in mind, this week we’re looking at three simple steps you can take to turn exhaustion into energy
New Year, New You!
Most of us try to make some changes in our lives at the start of a new year, and that’s often a good thing. You might be adding a new exercise regime, or chasing a personal goal like stopping smoking (we’d especially recommend this one!) but whether your goals or big or small the fact is that any changes to your regular sleep, work and exercise routine can impact your energy levels and leave your body struggling just a bit to keep up. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either – if you are trying to stop doing something (like smoking, drinking or overusing caffeine) your body will be going through some physical withdrawal, which is a very real issue we sometimes have to “push through”. Even if this is the case though there are some simple steps you can take to enjoy a healthier, happier, and less exhausted, more energized 2022!
Being exhausted isn’t good for you
Let’s be clear here, we’re not talking about that feeling of being “burned out” right after a workout – while this can leave you unable to do anything else but head to bed, this is very much a positive feeling – your body has worked hard and needs to rest while it builds muscles and tissues back stronger than before. Rather, the kind of exhaustion which isn’t so great is that long term “out of batteries” feeling, when you start the day feeling flat before you’ve even hit the shower.
When you’re feeling exhausted like this, you might notice some obvious aches and pains – when you’re tired, you’re also more likely to sustain an injury which we need to watch out for. However, what you might not so easily notice is the impact that exhaustion is also having on your brain and immune system function – being too tired for too long can have a negative impact on both. In January in particular we can become so focused on hitting our goals that we fail to listen to our bodies, slowly running ourselves down.
The trick is therefore to balance activity and rest – far better to hit 80% of your goals in January and 80% again in February, rather than 100% in January, and relapse back to all the old habits in February!
Three easy tips
So, without further ado, here’s the three critical things to keep in mind for better balance and more energy overall:
- Strive for Daily Exercise. Yes, exercising when you feel exhausted might seem like the quickest route to being more tired, but the opposite can be true! Exercise can actually increase your energy levels and brain activity and may even help support your immune system function. The trick is to strive for a reasonable level of exercise, and to evaluate as you go. When you’re feeling tired, getting up and moving may kick start your body – within 10 minutes you’re ready to rock and roll. If, after a warmup, however, you’re still feeling burned out, don’t quit, but aim for a shorter session and get some more rest. Over the long term, you’ll perform better exercise making use of this approach and reduce your risk of injury.
- Set Your Sleep Schedule. Your body runs on daily cycles called circadian rhythms, and these 24-hour cycles are part of your internal clock. Prioritizing your sleep and going to bed and getting up around the same time each day helps maintain those cycles. Often, we feel tired even after a good night’s sleep because we’ve been woken up before the body was quite ready – leaving us to feel groggy. Especially if you’re a parent this can be hard – and for some of us this might mean cutting short a Netflix binge – but give sleep scheduling a try. Having a regular sleeping time can, over time, train your body to fall asleep more quickly – enter deep “REM” sleep more quickly and wake up feeling ready for the day at least roughly on time.
- Eat Right. Keeping your blood sugar balanced is key to supporting your overall energy levels. Sugary foods can provide a quick spike in energy… but very quickly leave you feeling wiped out. Eating more whole foods and reducing your sugar intake can help keep your energy levels more consistent and balanced throughout the day. Skipping breakfast, or having a high sugar breakfast are both sure-fire ways to feel totalled by 1 PM. If a larger breakfast really does not appeal to you, consider having a small breakfast and a snack around 10:30 – opt for slow-release carbs like oats to provide a stable blood sugar level throughout the day.