Right now I hear here and there women around me grumbling about lack of energy. They say they crave comfort food like macaroni with ground beef and a thick layer of melted cheese. My answer at this time of year is always: “My dear, look around you! It is the middle of winter. Nature is fast asleep.
We think we are far from nature, but we are influenced by it more than we think. Take a break and be kind to yourself during this period, so that you can move forward with full power in a month or two. Need tips?
Top athletes take a lot of time to recharge
No one knows better than top athletes that you can’t deliver top performances all year round. They know they need to give their bodies plenty of rest. I recently read those top athletes sometimes take it easy for 4 months a year. Time to recharge. We, not top athletes, often try to steam through at full steam for 12 months a year (minus three weeks of vacation maybe). Is it strange that in these dark winter months we sometimes can’t get ahead?
We find it normal that there are hours in a day when we can peak, but also hours when we are tired and should not expect too much of ourselves. Women also know these periods in a month. Depending on your periods, there are days when you are radiant, but also days when you would prefer to stay under your duvet. It is the same with an entire calendar year.
How high is your yardstick?
We all experience that it is more difficult to get out of bed in the winter. Seven o’clock in the morning sometimes feels like the middle of the night when it’s still so cold and dark outside. We almost feel sorry for ourselves that we really have to get out now. Activities that we normally don’t turn around for seem heavier than usual and we seem more sensitive to stress. Our fuses appear shorter in winter than in summer.
This is especially a problem for women who constantly have high standards for themselves. Women who take little time to relax, who work under pressure or who experience a lot of stress. Women who forget that taking a deep breath only takes a few seconds and can give a lot of relaxation.
Comfort food XL, lifestyle, and being very kind to yourself
Of course, I like to give women advice on nutrition and lifestyle. Macaroni with minced meat and melted cheese is the ultimate recipe that will leave you wanting nothing but watching Netflix for hours afterward. I also guarantee that you will not wake up fit the morning after. There are much better ways to pamper yourself. That is what I often give as advice these winter months and also apply it myself. Being kind to yourself and lowering that yardstick for a while is an essential part of taking good care of yourself.
If you suffer from a midwinter dip, listen to the needs of your body. It’s no coincidence that you want to take it easy for a while. Fortunately, there are many healthy ways you can give your body a rest and recharge yourself for a radiant spring. Here are my favourites. Be inspired by this list and put together your personal anti-winter dip wish list!
1. Often go to bed before 10 o’clock
I never manage to do this in the summer, but during this period I usually wake up early. If possible, I go to bed at 10 o’clock, preferably even earlier to read a book. I have a cozy bedroom with warm light, but that is enough to read a book. Sometimes I’m in it as early as 9 o’clock. If I’ve worked out a lot at the beginning of the evening, I love that I don’t have to do anything after that, except to dive into my bed and read a book. A real pampering moment for me.
2. Take an afternoon nap every now and then if you feel the need
Getting enough sleep is important to keep your energy high. If you are unable to go to bed early on a regular basis or if you do not sleep well, see if you can take an afternoon nap every now and then. Don’t be embarrassed to crawl into bed for half an hour on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Leonardo da Vinci was known for taking frequent afternoon naps, especially when he had a deadline to finish work. Regularly resting our brains is important, especially if you have a creative profession. But also for women in 2021 in the middle of winter.
3. Meditating or staring out the window is a way of recharging
If you have trouble giving yourself enough rest, it is smart to call ‘resting’ ‘recharging’ from now on. Words affect you more than you might expect. You cannot do without sufficient charging moments. Meditating can be an excellent way, but if you have no experience with this, sitting in a chair and staring out the window is also fine.
Try to think about the positive things in your life, things that you are happy with, that you enjoy or that you appreciate that you have. Let go of your worries for a while. Think of something that makes you smile and hold it consciously for a while.
4. Increase the quality of your food; that is always possible
Of course, you can’t get away from me without doing something nice for yourself in the field of nutrition. Very simple: increase the quality of your food. Take a look at the number of fruits and vegetables you eat. As long as you don’t eat 5 ounces of vegetables a day (that’s a lot, I don’t always get that either) there is room for improvement.
Start your day with a green smoothie with some fats in it, such as half an avocado, some unroasted nuts, a spoonful of nut butter or a raw organic egg. You will feel the difference within a week.
Eat a lot of vegetables and fruit, make your own soups and/or salads and eat less outside the door. The quality is usually not great there. Research shows that the need for food often stems from a lack of sufficient nutrients. Increase the quality of your food and feel the difference.
5. Keep your body moving
In the summer months, we spend more time outside and our body gets more exercise. In the winter, we’re more likely to flop on the couch. Try to break through this by keeping moving. Sitting still is not called the new smoking for anything: sitting in a chair for 10 hours a day cannot be compensated by exercising 3 hours a week.
6. From reactive weather to active: reduce the number of hours behind a screen
Especially in winter we spend even more time behind our screens. We start the day with apps on our smartphone, work at a computer during the day and end in front of the television. This often means that we are unconsciously very reactive: we constantly react to what others say or do.
The ‘muscles’ that we need to be active behind the wheel of our lives are dramatically poorly trained as a result. Be aware of this. If we’re not careful, we’ll forget that we have a steering wheel at our disposal. Firmly grip the steering wheel again and reduce the number of hours behind a screen. A vital life is an active life, not a reactive life.
7. Drink enough vital water
In a warm summer the water jug is often within reach, but where is your water jug in the winter? Every time I drink too little, I notice it in my energy level, my desire to get moving and my creativity. My body requires plenty of vital fluid; even in winter. If I drink enough, I am also less hungry; often a feeling of hunger is a cry from your body for fluids.
If you experience thirst, you are already quite dehydrated and every top athlete can tell you that this can quickly lead to a 20% drop in your energy level. So drink enough, preferably filtered water or herbal tea. A mix of freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juice (not from a carton or bottle, really squeezed yourself) is actually even better. This moisture is even more absorbable for your body than water. As far as I’m concerned, you can also count a green smoothie. All other drinks don’t count. No not at all!
8. Practice: ‘how can I experience even more pleasure in this moment?’
I pasted this sentence on the edge of my computer. I have learned that an energetic life is a life in which pleasure plays an important role. I try to think several times every day how I can experience even more fun. Then I close my eyes and ask myself the above question. Sometimes it is very practical to put on an extra sweater because I notice that I am cold.
Sometimes I just want to stretch. Sometimes I just want to go outside. Sometimes I want to call a friend to catch up. Sometimes I want to watch a laugh on YouTube and sometimes I want to dance to some nice music. In short: it can be anything! It’s about asking yourself several times every day whether you can give your life a small upgrade. I can always notice that.
9. Have loving thoughts about yourself in your head
Every thought in your head triggers the production of hormones. If your mind is filled with thoughts like: ‘I’m not good enough, I can’t do this, I’m mad at my coworker, I’m afraid I’ll be laughed at, I’ll never pass that exam’ and so on, your body is making stress hormones which cost your body a lot of energy in the short term.
Is your head full of thoughts like: ‘I did this well again, I have faith that I will succeed, I am so happy with myself, I did not succeed but I did my best and I am proud of that’ then you body to completely different hormones that will provide energy in the short term and health in the longer term. And you know what’s so nice? No one controls the thoughts in your head except yourself.
Your mind and body will always believe what you tell them. Tell them a negative story about yourself and they will believe and respond to you. Tell them a positive story and they will believe you too. The choice is yours. Tell them you’re doing well, even if everything doesn’t work out.
Tell them you have confidence in yourself even if you find something exciting. Tell them you love yourself no matter what, even if you’re far from perfect. Who wants to be perfect anyway? How boring is that?