After the long winter months, there is often a lack of vigor. But with new habits, we can shake off the lethargy that plumbs us.
Fatigue is such a common problem that family physician Dr. Melissa Lem asks all of her patients if they have it, regardless of the reason for their visit. “And most of the time, they answer in the affirmative! She relates. And it’s even worse during and just after the cold season. However, there are a few simple things that can give us a good dose of energy.
1. Enjoy nature
It can be tempting to stay bundled up on the couch watching TV series in quick succession. But a good bowl of fresh air would be the antidote to many ailments. And no need to risk hypothermia! According to a study by researchers at the University of Rochester in the United States, 20 minutes in the fresh air is enough to feel invigorated.
This phenomenon is said to be caused by vitamin D, which is synthesized by our skin under the action of sunlight. Natural light improves mood and sleep quality. “It’s crazy how much energy it gives us! I advise my clients to get some sun as soon as they can, or at least vitamin supplements, “said Samantha Barley, a life coach in Montreal. Health Canada also recommends taking a supplement of 400 international units (IU) of vitamin D each day for people over 50.
But the invigorating effect of the great outdoors is also due to something else. “We have evolved over millennia to seek out the colors, sounds, and smells of nature. This is where we feel best, “said Dr. Melissa Lem, a member of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment.
It is for this reason that in Japan, followers of forest baths (shinrin-yoku) are encouraged to admire, touch and even taste the forest that surrounds them – by adding, for example, needle tea pine, which has energizing properties.
Outdoor air also has a calming effect on the mind, according to Dr. Christine Grou, president of the Order of Psychologists of Quebec. “It allows you to cut yourself off from the noise and stimulation of the city, to take a step back from the whirlwind of life,” she explains.
You don’t have to go far to enjoy the virtues of nature. “We often believe that you have to be on the side of a mountain or in the middle of a forest to feel the benefits, but, in fact, it doesn’t take much,” says Dr. Lem, who strives herself to spend a few minutes outside each day. For example, all you need to do is get off the bus one stop before your destination to walk a bit or cross a park on the way to work. Studies have shown that actions as trivial as looking out the window or surrounding yourself with green plants are beneficial for your health.
2. Surround yourself
Ah, as expected, this spring! We can’t wait to spend more time outside. We will see the friends more often, will meet the neighbors. Children will meet their friends in the alley…
These connections have an energizing action, according to Susan Pinker, a Montreal journalist and psychologist who explores the importance of human contact in her book The Village Effect (“L’effet village”, not yet translated into French). “It’s repairing! These interactions strengthen the immune system and allow us to heal our wounds faster. People who feel well surrounded even less often get colds! ” she says. A strong social circle is so beneficial that it could extend our life expectancy by fifteen years, she says. “It’s even more important to our well-being than losing weight or quitting smoking,” said the author, who devoted a Ted.com talk to the longevity secrets of supercentenarians.
Conversely, isolation is associated with many health problems such as exhaustion, anxiety, or depression. A study by researchers at King’s College in London of 2,000 young adults has linked loneliness to sleep problems. Participants who said they felt lonely were 24% more likely to be tired and have trouble concentrating.
To get the maximum benefit from your social relationships, you set aside Facebook and favor face-to-face meetings. Seeing friends in person promotes attachment and increases well-being by triggering the production of hormones in the body: dopamine, for example, a painkiller, and oxytocin, which builds confidence. “We feel like we are connected to others through social media, but in fact, we are more isolated than ever,” says Susan Pinker.
3. Preserve moments of pleasure
Quebecer Julie Cusmariu, life coach and creator of the Julie in conversation podcast, encourages her clients to start their day by asking themselves two very simple questions: what do I need and what do I want? “We are so used to taking care of others … You also have to think about yourself!” What stimulates me, what comforts me? ” she states.
Dr. Christine Grou would add a third question to this formula: what can not wait today? Learning to manage time and making personal well-being a priority is key, according to the psychologist. “What causes exhaustion is overloading!” she says.
Examples? Close the door to his office and take a few minutes for a coffee, without looking at his computer or phone. Or focus on activities that contribute to personal growth – meditate, for example. “I like to read inspiring books. It makes me feel good, it gives meaning to my existence and it nourishes my inner life, ”says Christine Michaud, speaker, and author of several books on wellness.
4. Eat well
Do we eat in order to have more vitality or rather to lose weight? It’s very different, as nutritionist Caroline Cloutier points out. “In slimming mode, we often see the energy contained in food as an enemy and we want as little as possible. But it’s our fuel! ” she says.
The first rule to finding pep: monitor his blood sugar. When high, it can cause energy spikes … followed by dips. To regulate it, we favor whole grains – such as brown rice or multigrain bread -, whose fibers slow the absorption of carbohydrates. “This is often what people who want to lose weight eliminate first! While carbohydrates should be our main source of energy, “says nutritionist Hélène Baribeau, author of Eat better to be on top (Éditions La Semaine).
Beware of simple carbohydrates, on the other hand, such as white bread or sweets, which cause large glycemic variations. “You shouldn’t be too restrictive either. If you want sweet things, you choose well and take the time to savor, ”says Caroline Cloutier.
To slow the absorption of carbohydrates, proteins prove to be good allies by stabilizing our energy level throughout the day. “You have to eat it with every meal, but not necessarily a lot. I particularly like vegetable protein sources like nuts, seeds or tofu, which contain a lot of fiber and little saturated fat, “explains Hélène Baribeau.
To avoid late afternoon bar strikes, the nutritionist suggests planning a snack. “Don’t wait to be hungry!” If you often lack concentration around 3.30 pm, you set an alarm to think of eating a snack around 3 pm, ”she advises.
Little known fact: dehydration can also contribute to fatigue. So we make sure to drink water throughout the day. How much? Six drinks a day? Eight? There is no magic number, but you have to remember that all liquids count. “You don’t always feel thirsty. If in doubt, the color of the urine – which should be a very light yellow – can guide us, “adds Caroline Cloutier.
5. Activate at the slightest opportunity
It’s the last thing you want to do when you’re exhausted! Exercise is, however, an excellent tonic. Proof: In a study by researchers from the University of Georgia, in the United States, the participants who climbed and then descended a staircase for ten minutes felt more awake than those who had consumed 50 milligrams of caffeine, about the equivalent of a can of soft drink.
“Training is counterintuitive. Often I don’t feel like doing it. But afterward, I always say to myself: “Wow! It did me so much good! ” Exclaims Chloé Rochette, co-founder of the Happy-Fitness Movement, a company that encourages women to move and eat better.
You have to develop a mental association between your effort and the resulting well-being and remember that every time you put on your running shoes. “The idea is that it becomes automatic,” said the coach.
The invigorating action of physical activity results from a multitude of factors. Exercise notably improves the quality of sleep, in addition to promoting good blood circulation, which improves the oxygenation of the body and the brain. It also stimulates the secretion of neurotransmitters like dopamine and endorphin, commonly known as “happiness hormones”.
According to Chloé Rochette, it is not necessary to train for a long time, or at full speed, to see positive effects. “You have to listen to your body. If you feel exhausted, you can take it easy. The important thing is to move! ” she says.
So the next time you get tired in the office, you stretch, shake your legs and walk around a bit. More efficient than coffee!