The November Blues: 5 Tips To Boost Your Energy

by Vanessa Labelle

The arrival of November reminds us that it is time to start preparing for winter, which, for some, is associated with the joy of gliding down ski slopes or the anticipation of the holidays, but, for others, means cold temperatures, snow storms, and depression. Many people suffer from a serious loss of energy when November arrives, due to a diminished, insufficient exposure to daylight and lack the motivation to perform their daily activities as a result. 

It is estimated that 3% of Canadians suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). These people may be sensitive to hormonal changes associated with a lack of sunshine (as a result of changes in the level of melatonin, the sleep hormone), which can create a variety of symptoms, including chronic fatigue, irritability, loss of interest, difficulty concentrating, a tendency to eat more (including sweets), and, above all, a loss of energy. Natural light is also linked to the activation of hormones such as serotonin, which have a positive influence on one's mood and emotional state, increase alertness, as well as regulating the production of melatonin.

So how do you confront this difficult period? I offer 5 tips to increase your energy levels and reduce the risk of depression.

Expose Yourself ... to Daylight

This should help you keep the spring in your step! It takes only 20 minutes a day for you to replenish your reserves of Vitamin D. So, enjoy a walk during your lunch break or extend your stroll home by making a detour to the grocery store.

Start Your Day with Breakfast

Your digestive system is most efficient in the morning and best able to absorb vitamins and minerals. Having fasted over the night, you need to spark it into action. If you aren't hungry, stimulate your appetite with a glass of water with lemon, which also has the benefit of detoxifying your system. Start your day with good carbs (so as to not allow your blood sugar level to drop).

Choose Foods Rich in Carbohydrates, But Decrease Your Consumption of Refined Sugar

Like protein, carbohydrates are a source of energy and are vital for the nervous and muscular systems. During digestion, they are transformed into glucose, one of the main energy sources that the body needs to function. However, since carbohydrates are not all the same, it is important to choose complex carbohydrates that metabolize more slowly, thus giving you more consistent energy output. When you consume simple carbohydrates containing sugars – such as bread, pasta, pastries, or sweets – the effect is the opposite. Sugar levels in the blood increase rapidly, as do your insulin levels, increasing your energy level for a very short duration. When insulin is created, a hypoglycemic reaction (low blood sugar) occurs causing a reduction in the sugar level, which increases hunger and decreases energy. That's why it is important to give these foods top priority in your diet:

  • Legumes
  • Lentils
  • Nuts
  • Whole Grains
  • Fruits and vegetables (ideally with a low glycemic index, such as spinach, kale, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, apples, pears, strawberries, and oranges)

Exercise

Physical exercise can also improve your mood because it increases the natural generation of serotonin (one of the happiness hormones), which positively affects your energy, sleep, and – most importantly – your mental state. Even if you devote only ten minutes, your whole body will benefit. The important thing is to choose activities you enjoy, whether they are walking, running, swimming, or yoga. It is much easier to integrate an activity you already like into your routine; you are already motivated to do it.

Drink 2 Litres of Water Each Day

Did you know that fatigue can be a sign of dehydration that has nothing to do with your feeling of thirst? As our body is composed of 60-70% water, it is essential for our health. Water keeps the body temperature constant, allows the absorption and circulation of nutrients, removes toxins from the body, and ensures skin hydration. On the other hand, dehydration slows the production of the enzymes that increase our level of energy. The simple act of drinking 2 litres of water a day could increase your enthusiasm and keep you in a good mood.

This list may seem extensive and difficult to achieve, especially if depression has slowly crept upon you. Go slowly so as to develop good habits, which will become permanent and allow you to feel good about yourself. Try one tip at a time, incorporate it into your routine, and discern what effects it has on your system.

 

Vanessa Labelle
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Vanessa Labelle

As a graduate of the Culinary Nutrition Academy of Toronto, Vanessa Labelle spends her time as a nutrition coach while also teaching her clients how to cook and updating her blog Pomme et Sucre.

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