Has the ongoing global health crisis left you feeling fatigued or drained of energy? You're far from the only one. People across the world are suffering: In the UK for example, many of whom are currently in lockdown conditions, the average adult spends more than seven-and-a-half years feeling tired, according to OnePoll.com.
That's nearly three hours each day spent feeling tired! Constant fatigue can be an indicator of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Alternatively, it can be an indicator of stress and depression, according to the journal BMC Psychiatry (opens in new tab).
Constant fatigue can encourage you to rely on sugary treats or carbohydrate-heavy snacks to help get you through the day, which is of course quite unhealthy. Especially in the winter, when summery salads tend to give way to comfort food like pasta, potatoes and bread.
However, good nutrition is just as important during the winter, and can play a role in fighting fatigue. One study (opens in new tab) found a diet rich in whole grains (high in fibers), polyphenol-rich vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can help stave off fatigue.
Sounds like the Mediterranean diet plan to us. The Med diet is full of oily fish, contributing to those fatty acids, vegetables and grains like oats, whole wheat, rye and barley. It requires you to cut back on your meat and refined "white" grains in favour of fuel which is broken down in the body more slowly, feeding you energy gradually throughout the day instead dumping all the sugar into your bloodstream at once.
Another reason for winter fatigue is the lack of sunlight, especially when we're cooped up in the house all day as a response to the global pandemic. We can resolve this in a couple of ways: one is to take a walk at lunchtime every day, even if you're working from home. Not only will this burn calories, but it will also allow you to soak up some much-needed vitamin D.
All caucasian adults need to maintain normal levels is around 13 of midday sunlight, several times a week, according to research (opens in new tab). Darker-skinned adults might need to take longer, more frequent walks to bring that time up to 30 minutes to avoid deficiencies.
In hours of longer darkness, you can help your wake-up times with a sunlight lamp, like the Philips SmartSleep wake-up light. These nifty gadgets simulate a gradual increase of sunlight, at a time you choose, to help your body wake up more naturally, helping to keep your body clock correctly aligned and maintain energy levels.
- Buy the Philips Smartsleep in the US (opens in new tab)
- Buy the Philips Smartsleep in the UK (opens in new tab)
Fatigue is also a common symptom of iron and vitamin B deficiencies. If the above treatments aren't working for you, you could try a supplement before consulting your doctor.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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