• Health & Wellness
5 Ways to Boost Your Energy This Winter

Editor's note: This article is also featured in the Perkiomenite, our student newspaper. 


With short days, cold weather, and continuous assignments and tests, remaining motivated throughout the winter can be a challenge. But creating a sustainable routine to make the winter more manageable, enjoyable, and productive is essential. So, here are five small habits to incorporate into your life that can help keep you motivated and energized throughout the season and the remainder of the school year.

 

1. Start the day with the sun.

There are many benefits to seeing the sun when you wake up, the biggest being an increase in energy levels. According to Carly Smith, from the Stanford Lifestyle Medicine Blog, one way it does this is by regulating your circadian rhythm. This means that as your rhythm synchronizes with the rising and falling sun, your sleep will improve at night, and it will be easier for you to wake up in the morning. Sunlight in the morning also gives you a serotonin boost, which can improve your overall mood and motivation levels for the day. You can receive this sunlight through a short walk, breakfast by a window, or by opening your shades as you get ready. The most important part is to make sure it is not dark as you wake up, so as cozy as blackout curtains can be, viewing light throughout the morning is crucial. 

 

2. Avoid the "snooze" button.

Although leaving your bed in the morning is difficult, hitting snooze will make you more tired than getting up immediately. This happens because when you fall back asleep for a few minutes, your body wants to begin a new sleep cycle. These sleep cycles allow us to get quality sleep at night and wake up feeling rejuvenated, starting with Non-REM sleep 1-3 and ending with the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage.  When you have a regular sleep routine, You will likely wake up towards the end of your final REM cycle. But, in an article written by Laura Benys published by Hartford Healthcare, sleep specialist Robert Bundy, MD, says, “Most people don’t go back into the final, restorative REM stage of sleep. Instead, the body tries to go back into a deep sleep, which is harder to wake up from.” You will likely wake up towards the end of your final REM cycle when you have a regular sleep schedule. But, when you fall back asleep for 5-10 extra minutes, you are not receiving quality sleep and will wake up during a non-REM period of the sleep cycle. This prolongs sleep inertia, which may explain why you still feel groggy for hours after a long night's sleep. So, next time you reach to hit snooze, think about reconsidering.

 

3. Exercise

While some positive effects of exercise are apparent, such as prolonged cardiovascular health, improved strength and agility, and better sleep, there are even more positive effects of exercise that are especially important in the winter. One is the boost it provides to your immune system. It is easy to become sick during the flu, common cold, and COVID-19 season. But, exercising at least 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes increases your chance of fighting off these viruses and feeling as healthy as possible throughout the winter. Exercise also improves your overall mental health by releasing serotonin and dopamine, or your "feel good" chemicals, into your brain. According to Maia Pandey from the University of Chicago Medicine Blog, Many people become negatively affected by the season, so maintaining the best mental clarity and health possible is crucial to avoiding seasonal blues. So, whether you run, jog, walk, swim, play a sport, or weight train, prioritize moving your body this winter!

 

Visiting the weight room and exercising can help support your physical and mental health during the winter months.

 

4. Make fun plans

Maintaining a busy, productive schedule throughout the winter may seem desirable, but remember to schedule time for fun activities. Winter is often a season of burnout, so to continue feeling inspired to complete your work, you must fit in "fun time." Having free time in your schedule and events to look forward to on the weekends will provide relief from stress, improve your overall mental health, and add excitement to what may seem like a dreary time of year. Also, enjoy time alone and give yourself breaks throughout the day and week to relax and do things that rejuvenate you. 

Some things you can do with friends and family throughout the winter are:

  1. Game nights

  2. Watching movies

  3. Going out for a meal

  4. Ice skating

  5. Skiing, snowboarding, or snow tubing

  6. Creating arts and crafts

  7. Doing an escape room

  8. Shopping at the mall

  9. Bowling

  10. Cooking or Baking something new

 

In January, students took a weekend trip to a local escape room - a fun activity that is indoors and challenging. 

 

5. Hydrate

As the temperatures remain low, you may not feel the need to drink water or forget to. But, it is important to prioritize hydration even when you are not hot or sweaty. Adults should take their body weight, divide it in half, and drink that many ounces. For example, if you weigh 140 lbs, you should drink at least 70 oz of water daily, plus more when you sweat. According to Alison Graziano of Massachusetts General Hospital, remaining hydrated throughout the winter boosts your immune system and can help you resist common illnesses that spread during the season by boosting your immune system. Hydrating can also improve your mood, provide you with more energy, and help prevent your skin and lips from getting uncomfortably dry or chapped. So, although you may not be thirsty, remember to hydrate!

 

Prioritizing your physical and mental health is crucial during the winter season. So, incorporating new, small, habits in your daily life will help make the days more productive, enjoyable, and is the perfect way to ensure you start your year with a positive attitude. 

 

 

 



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