Feeling lethargic, demotivated, and sluggish? Well, it is January…
It can seem like a lot of effort to get your precious mojo back, as well as a big expense.
Wellness treatments threaten to break the bank, and often demand a substantial portion of your week.
But it needn’t be that way.
Here, experts outline the best everyday tips for reinvigorating yourself this January.
Swerve the sweets
When you need a quick energy boost it’s your brain telling you it needs fuel, but do you opt for a healthier, longer lasting option, or sugary fix?
‘Quick acting carbohydrates, such as sweet cereal bars, orange juice, sweets or sweet drinks will give you a fast but short-lived boost of energy followed by a slump,’ says Christine Kenny, registered dietician and nutritionist.
‘If you do need something sweet minus the slump, try cereal bars made with oats, nuts and banana, or Greek yogurt with a piece fruit and a handful of mixed nuts.’
Press Play on Pop
Never underestimate the power of pop to help perk yourself up.
‘Music genres with a slightly higher BPM (beats per minute) than your heart rate will encourage your heart to keep pace, pumping more oxygen around your body and have you firing on all cylinders so you may wish to play tracks with a faster tempo at work to turbo-charge you through your to-do list,’ says Marianne Rizkallah, Music Therapist for licensing service PPL PRS.
Or try music without lyrics to aid concentration. ‘Having a musical “sound bath” without the distraction of words can give your mind the space to tune into the task at hand. This is ideal when you’re working to a tight deadline.’
Dopamine dressing is the practice of using clothes as a tool to boost your mood or channel certain emotions.
‘Colour is particularly effective at altering your mood when it comes to clothes,’ says Fashion Psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell who’s working on Stitch Fix’s Dress for Joy campaign.
According to research by the online styling service, 20% of Brits say feeling confident in colour elicits feelings of strength and increases energy levels, and almost a third of Brits (29%) find their mood is lifted when wearing brighter shades.
‘We can attribute this to Ecological Valence Theory, which is the idea that people generally associate colours with certain objects and when you wear a colourful outfit that makes you feel positive, you experience a psychological boost that’s linked to the chemical dopamine.’
Jump for joy – literally
Sounds ridic, but jumping can help combat lethargy.
‘The theory behind this is that it awakens the childhood enthusiasm you once had, allowing you to be uninhibited which can break a monotonous cycle. This serves to liven you up and boost your mood,’ says Hussain Abdeh, Clinical Director and Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct.
‘Jumping will also send your heart beating faster, which can make you feel more energised.’
Feel the chill
If you need a boost, then give yourself a blast of cold water.
‘Initially, a cold shower is a direct physiological shock to the body which causes a rise in heart rate, blood vessels to constrict, a rise in blood pressure and release of stress hormones – this will definitely wake you up,’ says Dr Jeff Foster of private health service H3 Health.
A 30-second blast at the end of your shower is all you need to feel invigorated.
‘You’ll need to cover most of your body to cause your blood vessels to shrink, and stimulate a sympathetic nervous system response,’ adds Foster.
‘This sudden increase in circulation can be good for the body, but in terms of health benefits, it should be noted, it’s no different to your circulation as having a ten-minute walk.’
Spritz a scent
Scents can be hugely powerful, evoking feelings and memories and have an instant impact on our mood and emotions.
‘Everyone has their own personal taste and different notes can mean different things to different people, however, as a rule citrus-based scents are a great place to start.
‘They’re known to have de-stressing qualities and their fresh and zesty notes can instantly lift our mood.
‘Many people also associate citrus scents with summer and holidays, which can evoke memories of being carefree and relaxed,’ says Jonny Webber, Head of ecommerce at Perfume Direct.
‘Other scents to look out for include ylang-ylang, a tropical floral scent that’s known to relax and uplift, jasmine, which is delicate and sweet and known for being a calming as well as optimistic scent, and vanilla, which is known as a “happy” scent as it has a warming, sweet smell.’
Take a nap
It seems counter-intuitive, but if you really want to get fired up, perhaps you need a moment’s shut-eye.
‘Even brief naps can boost your energy, improve your memory and ability to learn new information, as well as support the health of your immune system and cardiovascular system,’ says Dr Greg Potter, Chief Science Officer at Resilient Nutrition who advises the best time to take a nap is between about 1pm and 3pm and definitely no later than six hours before your usual bedtime.
‘A 15 to 20-minute nap will generally make you feel energised, alert, and content. Don’t worry if you can’t nod off, simply resting can be beneficial.
‘Your heart rate and blood pressure will drop, and your mind will also wander, which can support mental processes such as creativity.’
Make like a cobra
Sitting hunched over for hours? It’s little wonder you’re flagging. Take a moment to stretch.
‘When we stretch, it increases the blood flow to our muscles and relieves fatigue. It also keeps oxygen flowing to muscles, and oxygen is what our cells need to stay energised,’ says Chatty Dobson, Yoga Teacher & Owner of FLEX Chelsea who suggests the Cobra stretch.
‘Lie on your stomach, place your hands flat beneath your shoulders, tuck your elbows in by your sides and gently raise your head and chest, keeping your hips and groin on the floor.
‘If it feels comfortable, lift your stomach too. Hold for 15 to 20 seconds and then gently lower back down.’
Celebrity personal trainer PT Peter Maciver spends every day motivating people and has heard every excuse over the years.
‘The most common excuse is that it’s not the right time, whether it’s “I want to start on a Monday”, “I want to start at the beginning of the month” or “I have some social occasions I want to get out of the way first” – basically putting off starting for the “perfect” time,’ says Maciver who tells all his clients the same thing – stop worrying about the goal and focus on starting the journey.
‘You need to break down your goal, whatever that might be, into achievable shorter-term goals, be accountable, and notice how good you feel afterwards.
‘And when you hit your target(s), reward yourself as it’s a great motivator.’