Winter energy boosters

Few of us enjoy the darker days of winter. If you have less energy and enthusiasm in the darker months, you're not alone - one-in-five people in Britain get the 'winter blues.' Whether it's a morning pick-me-up you need or a mid-afternoon energy boost, here are some simple ways to boost your energy this winter...

Group of women happy in snow

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Good mood food
Most of us crave stodgy, sweet foods in winter, but eating too much sugary food will leave you with mood swings and energy dips. Eating three meals a day (complex carbs and protein) with a high-protein snack mid-morning and mid-afternoon will help keep your blood-sugar levels steady.

A healthy breakfast will set you up for the day. Choose low GI foods that release their energy slowly, such as porridge. Add a chopped banana for an extra energy boost. If you must have a sweet treat, have a few squares of dark chocolate with a high cocoa count. Cocoa contains phenylethylamine, a potent antidepressant that promotes the release of feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine, which help improve mood.

Stay hydrated
While most of us need no encouragement to drink hot chocolate or coffee, we need plenty of water to stay hydrated, even in winter. Keeping your fluid intake up will help improve your energy levels, banish headaches and improve digestion. If you prefer something hot, try drinking herbal teas. There are lots of flavours available - try a few and you might be surprised to find one you like. Ginger and lemon is a great warming choice for winter.

Sniff a peppermint
It may sound unlikely but US researchers discovered that a whiff of peppermint significantly increases your brain's production of alpha waves, electrical impulses that can produce a calmer, happier mood in minutes. And, according to researchers at Chicago's Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, eight-out-of-ten people found smelling peppermint was able to reduce feelings of stress.

Supplement your health
If you're pale and tired more often than not, you could have an iron deficiency. Women are particularly prone to anaemia, which your doctor can test for. If you are lacking in iron, taking iron supplements can help. Other good supplements for energy include vitamin B12, which is essential for the production of red blood cells and helps the body to use iron, and zinc which helps boost serotonin levels.

Get outdoors
There may be less daylight in winter but it's worth making the most of what there is. Make a pact to get outdoors in your lunch hour, even a brisk walk to the shop or around the local park can work wonders for your alertness. In fact a US study found that just a 10-minute walk can increase your energy level for up to two hours, with the added bonus of releasing some of those sought-after happy hormones.

Rub your ears
The last thing you probably think of when you hit that mid-afternoon flat spot is your ears. But according to Chinese medicine, a little lobe stimulation sends a wake-up signal to the rest of your organs. So give your ears a little rub and up your energy instead of letting lethargy drag you down.

Do you have a tip for a natural and instant energy boost? Let us know below...