How is it that in January the days are shorter and yet the month itself feels so long? Maybe it's the cold temps or the fact that the sun sets at 4 p.m., but this time of year can be super draining for many of us, and that's not a fun feeling. (Seriously, what's more exhausting than feeling exhausted all the time?)
Fortunately, there are easy, manageable ways to increase our energy, inspire our routines, and get ourselves off the couch this month that won't overwhelm or take more energy than we have available. Read on for four ways to not feel dead tired this winter:
1. Sync up with the sun.
In January, the sun is still rising and setting earlier than in many other months. There's not much you can do about the premature darkness, but a simple adjustment to your sleep schedule can help keep away the dead-of-winter blues: Wake up with the sun.
Fun fact: Your body produces serotonin (a chemical that stabilizes your mood and supports feelings of well-being) when you're exposed to daylight and melatonin (a hormone that sets the stage for sleep) during dark hours. This helps establish our circadian rhythm. By rising with the sun (that's about 7 a.m. to 7:20 a.m. in January in New York, for instance), your body will produce serotonin for the most hours possible (the more daylight hours you're awake, the more time your body has to make serotonin). Not only will this habit give you more energy in the morning and throughout the day, but it'll help you sleep better at night, too, which will also yield more energy the next day. So if you struggle with insomnia or feel lethargic during the day, try syncing with the sun, and see how you feel.
2. Go alcohol-free for happy hour.
By now, happy hours have earned their rightful place on our social calendars, but we all know that drinking too much, too often can interrupt your sleep and leave you feeling sluggish. For those of us who crave the crispness of a cold bottle of beer, we can thankfully still reap the benefits of spending time with friends and colleagues without risking the aforementioned aftermath.
Heineken 0.0 is an alcohol-free option that has the same refreshing crisp taste as its boozy counterpart, with zero alcohol. It's the perfect alternative for anyone having a sober January, or anyone who wants to have a night out and still wake up hangover-free. This isn't to say you have to give up drinking altogether, but Heineken 0.0 offers you a great-tasting option.
3. Stretch first thing.
Stretching, in general, has loads of benefits—it decreases muscle tension, improves circulation, alleviates muscle pain, and more—but stretching in the morning specifically can give your body a much-needed boost at the beginning of the day. You'll increase your blood flow, relieve stiffness in your joints and muscles, and signal to your brain and body that you're ready for whatever's ahead.
No matter what position you sleep in, your muscles can develop tension overnight, and stretching is an effective way to release it. No need to roll out a yoga mat and turn on a YouTube tutorial (if you want to, great, do you!). Before you even set foot on the floor, simply take a minute to stretch out in bed and do a stretch or two once you get up. Doing a cobra stretch, child's pose, or a few jumping jacks will get your blood circulating and wake up your body. If that feels like too much, you can simply stand up, reach for the sky as high as you can, and then touch your toes. There, you've literally started the day off strong.
4. Start and end the day outside.
Raise your hand if you occasionally get to the end of the day and realize you haven't stepped foot outside at all. (We get it, and we've been there.) As you learned earlier, serotonin peaks during daylight hours and melatonin peaks at night, so starting your day outside and ending your day outside as the light wanes can help regulate your circadian rhythm, which will increase your natural energy levels. This can be as simple as having your morning coffee outside or in a spot with lots of natural light and taking a walk around the block at dusk, alcohol-free beverage like Heineken 0.0 in hand (a ritual that can help you transition from your workday to evening me-time too).
It's worth repeating that you don't have to adopt all of these tips at once—experiment with each and see what sticks! Here's hoping that one or more of them work for you and keep your spirit lifted all month long.