As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, it's only natural to feel a little lethargic. Instead of staying indoors (and comfort eating!), there are things you can do boost your energy and wellbeing. Here are 10 easy ways to give yourself a boost this winter.
See also: How to stop a cold in its tracks
See also: Eight foods that help to ward off colds and flu
1. Have a green smoothie for breakfast
Not everyone likes a big breakfast. If you can't face toast and eggs or even a bowl of porridge, invest in a blender and enjoy a healthy green smoothie. Try half an avocado, half an apple, a few kale leaves, a handful of fresh spinach and a cup of coconut water. Packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, it's easy to digest and will give you a morning energy boost.
2. Go for a brisk walk
It's tempting to stay under the duvet when the weather's cold, but getting your circulation going and increasing oxygen to your muscles is the best instant energy booster. Falling asleep over your desk? Wrap up and go for a power walk at lunch time – research shows that getting some light into your eyes helps to wake up the brain.
3. Take an iron supplement
If you feel constantly tired and irritable for no reason, check that you're getting enough iron in your diet (your GP can confirm with a simple blood test). Iron deficiency can lead to tiredness and more serious conditions such as anaemia. Eat more iron-rich foods, such as mushrooms, chickpeas and leafy green vegetables (like spinach), nuts and red meat. Alternatively, take a daily iron supplement.
4. Invest in a light box
If you tend to feel low every winter, consider investing in a lightbox. Seasonal affective disorder can leave you feeling depressed and lethargic, but research shows that lightbox therapy can make a difference, and is recommended by many doctors. It couldn't be easier – simply sit in front of the box for at least 30 minutes every morning to benefit.
5. Try magnetic therapy
The cold weather can make stiffness and aches and pains so much worse. Whether you suffer from a dodgy knee, arthritic hip or simply get stiff from spending too much time sitting at a desk, it may be worth giving magnetic therapy a try. The theory is that the magnets help to boost circulation and increase oxygen flow around the body, delivering vital nutrients where they are needed. Sounds crazy but devotees swear by it.
6. Sniff some peppermint
Feeling lethargic or run down? Try sniffing some peppermint oil. Studies show that the scent can increase the brain's production of alpha waves, electrical impulses that can produce a happier mood, in a matter of minutes.
7. Stay hydrated
Even mild dehydration can zap your energy levels and make you feel weak, dizzy and confused. Keep your fluid levels topped up by sipping water throughout the day. If you don't fancy cold drinks in winter, try hot water with a slice of ginger and lemon or some cordial, or drink herbal tea.
8. Breathe out stress
Stress will deplete your energy levels. If you feel your tension levels rising, take a few slow, deep breath and hold for a count of four, then exhale deeply to the count of four. Repeat several times.
9. Strike a pose
To feel uplifted or instantly alert, try yoga. You don't need to go to classes or buy a yoga DVD – simply search for poses on YouTube (such as the Warrior pose). Tight muscles can use up more energy – and simply stretching can help to improve your circulation and wake you up.
10.Eat little and often
Eating small regular meals throughout the day will help to regulate your blood sugar and prevent sudden energy dips. Good mood foods include turkey, fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon and broccoli. Munching a high-protein snack (such as a handful of Brazil nuts) mid-afternoon will help avoid an energy dip.