The shortest month of the year can feel like the longest due to your sinking energy levels, temps that make you wonder if you'll never be warm again, and the sun disappearing right after lunch. What gives, y'all?
According to Jessica Beacom, RDN and co-founder of The Real Food Dietitians along with Stacie Hassing, RDN, it's vital to head into this time of year with a bright outlook. "I always approach this time of year with the mindset that this is only temporary," she says. Sunny days, where art thou?
"Lower energy levels and the desire to eat more cozy and comforting foods and sleep in more often is a normal response when our circadian rhythms are disrupted," Beacom says. "Knowing that keeps me from getting down on myself since it’s not really lack of motivation, but rather biology at work." See? You're definitely not the only person craving hearty soups and endless naps.
However, there are other things you can start doing this time of year to combat the midday slump (like trying Ocean Spray's new hybrid drink made with real fruit juice and cold brew coffee) and feel energized to live your life, no matter how low the temps are outside—no, please don't even check.
Keep reading for 3 tips on how to feel energized all winter, because yes we're all struggling.
1. Move daily
Go ahead and let out a giant "ugh" if all you want to do is cocoon yourself in blankets until spring, but in order to shake off those all-day yawns, you might want to get sweating. "Moving your body during the day also helps improve the quality of your sleep at night," Beacom says. "Now is a great time to try new classes at local gyms or studios, or join a local hiking group (bonus points for getting outside!)."
But, sometimes it's extra tough to tap into the motivation to get up and get going, and that's when an on-demand jolt of energy can come in clutch. In those situations, Beacom opts for a glass of Ocean Spray® Brew—a refreshing cranberry juice drink combined with 100 percent Colombian cold brew coffee for naturally sourced energy without any added sugar—when she's wanting an extra oomph.
"I enjoy it as a pre-workout beverage on occasion because in addition to the caffeine from green coffee beans, it also has a few carbohydrates to fuel my efforts in the gym or on a run," Beacom says. Cold brew season is officially extended through winter.
2. Get lit
No, Beacom isn't telling you to go to happy hour (but go for it if you're in a social mood). What she does suggest is getting as much exposure to natural light as possible during these darker days, which often means getting outside (so the walk to happy hour could totally count if you leave your office early enough).
And there's science to back it up: These shorter days cause your body to produce more melatonin than usual, making you feel more lethargic in the winter, according to Beacom.
"Open the blinds or curtains right away in the morning to let the light in, and make an effort to take a short walk daily, before or after lunch when the sun is at its brightest," she says." If your workday doesn't allot you time to head out for a walk, Beacom suggests trying to move your workstation close to a window to soak up a little extra sunlight. (Hello, new plant spot.)
3. Keep up a balanced diet
The cravings during this time are so real, but Beacom says giving in to your sweet tooth won't do your energy levels any favors. Instead, try to focus on meals that are balanced and nourishing. "By planning and eating regular meals and snacks throughout the day, you’ll keep blood sugars steady, which helps you avoid mid-afternoon energy slumps," she says, AKA when the afternoon feels like a wall of zero productivity.
In addition to making sure her meal prep game is strong, Beacom keeps pick-me-ups like Ocean Spray® Brew juice drink on hand for when she's feeling sluggish. Since every eight-ounce serving contains 40 milligrams of naturally sourced caffeine (which equals a half cup of coffee), as well as vitamins C and B, you can grab extra health benefits while still getting your caffeine fix. Basically, it's having your coffee and drinking it too.
"I enjoy Ocean Spray® Brew as a mid-morning refresher when I want a little boost, but don’t want another cup of coffee, which would make me jittery," she says. Hopefully with these tips, your 4 p.m. will actually start to feel like 4 p.m.—and not like it's time for bed, even if it is almost dark outside.
Sponsored by Ocean Spray
Photos: Jessica Beacom
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