No, you’re not making it up – Christmas burnout is real. When you’ve got presents to buy and in-laws to host, festive niggles can threaten to ruin the fun and leave you feeling like you’re running on empty. In fact, a 2018 survey from Slumber Cloud found that one in three adults suffer from holiday burnout, with 36 percent saying this starts to creep in around mid-December. Pair this with the ‘why not?’ attitude that often comes with the festive period (mulled wine Mondays are a thing, we checked) and a busy household to run, it’s no wonder your battery is a little flat these days. But it doesn’t have to be this way, as these tips come expert-approved – with energy-boosting recipes and tried-and-tested exercises to add to your toolkit.
Put more drive into your dinner
Proper fuel equals full steam ahead, so ensure you’ve got energy-boosting ingredients on your weekly menu. Salads make a great lunch or dinner for obvious reasons and vitamin C-rich foods, such as tomatoes combined with spinach or beans (that are packed with iron) will help your body to absorb the micronutrients and give you a lift. Chia seeds are also little nutrient powerhouses, as their balance of protein, fat and fibre helps to regulate your bloodsugars and reduce the risk of that 3pm crash we’re all familiar with. Try sprinkling them on your salads or making a chia pudding for a sweet breakfast. If you’re after something a bit heartier and warming, cinnamon is a powerful fatigue fighter, thanks to the way it improves blood glucose levels. Pop a tablespoon in a curry for an extra boost.
Make your day D-lightful
Not getting enough natural light in the daytime is something we all have to contend with in winter, so it’s definitely a good idea to supplement it with a vitamin. “Many doctors and healthcare professionals advocate for supplementation of doses up to 4000IU per day or at least 2000IU for healthy adults,” says Keeley Berry, molecular biologist and NPD Manager at BetterYou Ltd. “A pill-free supplement, such as BetterYou’s D3000 Oral Spray is a fantastic way to get your daily dose.” £8.45 betteryou.com
Let cold water wash over you
Okay, jumping in a cold shower as soon as you wake up might be the last thing you want to do, especially when emerging from your cosy cocoon is hard with a capital ‘H’ in the winter – but there’s method in the madness. The cold water sends electric pulses to your brain which, in turn, gives your system a bit of a jolt, increasing alertness, clarity and energy levels. Plus, by quickly changing the temperature, it can shock your body into increasing the release of the hormone norepinephrine, improving focus, attention and mood. Back-to-back meetings followed by invoices? No problem.
Grab some bite-size energy
Downing a protein shake left you feeling a bit queasy? Elevate your post-workout snack with these beetroot and dark chocolate no-bake energy bars. Whether you’re a marathon runner or 5k novice, beetroot has been proven to boost athletes’ endurance by 20 percent. You’ll need 250g of beetroot, cooked and chopped, 5 tbsp raw honey, 40g rolled oats, 180g strawberry-flavoured protein powder, 30g dried and chopped strawberries and 100g dark chocolate chips. Line a 20x20cm baking tin, and blend the beetroot and honey together in a food processor until smooth. Combine the oats, protein powder and strawberries, then stir into the beetroot. Press into the tin. Melt the chocolate chips in a non-stick pan over a low heat, then spread over the top of the mixture. Chill overnight in the fridge.
Good news: while your boss probably won’t approve of you nodding off midmeeting, a power nap in a quiet spot can pay dividends. Researchers at Saarland University in Germany found just 45 minutes of shut-eye can produce a five-fold improvement in memory and alertness. It’s recommended to keep them short and sweet though to avoid feeling groggy come 7pm. Napping not your thing? If you’re feeling tired during the day, but don’t want to take five, doing a crossword or word search can help challenge and stimulate your brain, and make you feel more awake.
Shake up your workout routine
The beloved Strictly has returned to our screens and you’ve no doubt been roped into learning a TikTok dance by your children or friendship group at some point, so to carry on the trend, why not take a break from your screen and have a boogie? Dancing is a great form of aerobic exercise that gets the blood pumping and the heart-rate up; pair that with the mood-boosting benefits of music and you’ve already ticked two of the serotonin producing boxes, meaning you’re onto winner. Cha-cha slide, anyone?
Go for a brisk walk
Walking is one of the most accessible types of exercises out there – it’s free, you don’t need any equipment and it’s simple to find ways to add it to your day. Walking also strengthens your heart and lowers your blood pressure; all of which reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. And, it’s not just physical benefits that walking provides either: your mental health gets a boost, too. As we know, the advantages to outdoor exercise are three-fold: it helps reduce stress and anxiety, improves your mood and fosters a deeper connection to nature. “Simply being outside has a positive effect on your mental health,” says Dr Courtney Kipps, consultant in sport and exercise medicine at the Institute of Sport, Exercise & Health (ISEH). “Exercising outdoors magnifies these effects and is therefore ideal for relieving anxiety, stress and depression.”