Daylight Savings: Top Tips to Boost Your Energy

The seasons are changing, guys, even here in sunny-year-round AZ, and I can feel it! The days are getting cooler, the leaves are showing off their fall colors, and the store shelves are stocked to the brim with all-things fall, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. While the time never changes here in AZ (thank heavens!), many areas will soon be going from Daylight Savings Time back to Standard Time, and no matter where you live, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer, which means one thing: the winter drag, you know that tired feeling you get when it’s dark and cold.

If you’ve ever experienced this feeling of winter blah, you’re not alone, and it’s a real thing with a real name: Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD can affect different people in different ways, and it happens most often during the fall and winter months. That’s how you can tell the difference between SAD and other mental health issues: SAD is seasonal.

What is SAD?

Two people can experience the same health-related issue differently: Some might feel several symptoms, while others might experience only one or two. It’s the same with SAD, which can make it tricky to understand what’s going on since the symptoms of SAD can be pretty common depending on what’s happening in your life and no matter the season of the year. When it comes to winter- or summer-related SAD, here are some specific things to watch for:

SAD in the winter months—sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”—can be caused by less sunlight. If you’ve ever experienced any of these symptoms, you could have the winter blues:

  • Feeling like you just want to hibernate. Give me those comfy sweats and a Netflix binge!
  • Experiencing some weight gain. Think about it: When you combine SAD with all those fall and winter holidays and all the yummy foods that come with the holidays, it can all add up to some extra lbs. on the scale.
  • Wanting to eat too much. Those carbs, especially, are frequently calling your name!
  • Sleeping more than usual, even though studies show that 33-50% of us don’t get enough sleep! Why can this happen? Scientists believe that your body makes more melatonin during the months when the days are shorter, meaning there are more dark hours in the day, which can lead to more sleep. I’ve yet to see this one happen for me, but I’m still hoping!

Are you in that 33-50% of sleep deprived people no matter what time of year it might be? That’s s topic for a whole other post…click here to read more.

How common is SAD? It affects around 10 million Americans and, unfortunately, it hits women 4 times more often than men. Lucky us, right?! But here’s the deal: I’m a firm believer that if we can put a “name” to what we’re feeling, then we’re better equipped to deal with it, right?!

7 Energy-Boosting Tips for When You’re Feeling SAD

When you experience any degree of SAD at any time of the year, or even when you might be feeling any of the SAD-related symptoms, there are some things you can do to not only feel better, but to also increase your energy, especially if hibernating until March is looking more and more appealing. Since we’re heading from fall into winter, which is when most people experience those winter blues, the tips I’m sharing are more relevant to this time of year, but they can definitely also be used no matter when you feel SAD or even simply sad. But before I dive into these tips, I’ve got a bit of a disclaimer:

While it is possible to use these tips to help you feel better, please, please, please go see your doctor if things just aren’t getting better. Deal? Because this is SO important!

Tip #1. Go into the light. Sunlight triggers the release of more serotonin—a hormone that can boost your mood and increase your focus and feelings of calmness, so when the daylight hours are shorter and shorter, you can start to literally feel the absence of all that sunlight. So take advantage of any sunny fall and winter days by spending some time outside: Take a walk, sit and enjoy some self-care time, work out, play with the kids…whatever activities you can do outside that will help you get more rays. If you live in an area with fewer daylight hours, consider using a light therapy box, which can bring the sun indoors. If this seems like an option for you, please discuss this with your healthcare provider first to ensure you get the right type of box for you and your needs.

Tip #2. Work out regularly. While it might seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase your energy is by using your energy to move your body. And I get it: When you’re feeling down, probably the last thing you want to do is work out. But, not only can consistent exercise offer so many mental and physical health benefits, but it’s can also boost your energy! When you move your body, more oxygen and nutrients are available to help your cardiovascular system work better, giving you more energy for everything you want to do each day. You don’t have to work out for hours and hours to get the energy-boosting benefits either. Even a few minutes at a time can make a huge difference!

Tip #3. Get social. While I’m all about alone time, too much can increase any SAD symptoms you might be experiencing. When we spend time with those who are closest to us, we can actually feed off their energy, increasing our own at the same time! And let’s be honest: Laughter really is the best medicine for so many things we deal with, including a lack of energy and feeling SAD. So, make it a point to spend time with those who lift you up, make you laugh, have your back, and who you feel like you can just be “you” with. Those are your people. They can give you that much-needed boost of energy, and you can do the same for them!

Tip #4. Reduce your stress. I know, I know. This can feel like an almost impossible feat any time of the year, but it’s even more crucial to try and lower your stress levels if you’re experiencing any degree of the winter blues. Stress is an energy zapper, making you feel drained and negatively affecting your life in so many ways. Not sure how to reduce your stress? I’m sharing some awesome tips here!

Tip #5. Fuel your body. Food—the fuel we feed our bodies—IS energy. And while it can be tempting to want to eat all of our favorite craving-type foods when we’re feeling SAD, those types of foods can also deplete our energy stores quickly. While I’m all about balance and enjoying healthy foods and my maybe not-so-healthy favorites, try and make 80% of your nutrition plan healthy foods, those lean proteins, healthy carbs, and healthy fats so you can provide your body with the type of fuel it needs to help you feel better, nail your daily to-do list, take care of yourself and those most important to you, and accomplish your goals.

Drinking enough water is another important energy-booster. Learn more here.

Tip #6. Serve someone. Remember…when you’re feeling SAD, you are part of a 10 million+ member club, so someone around you is probably also feeling the effects of the changing seasons in one way or another. Seek them out, do something kind for them, and feel your energy levels rise. When you serve others, it can also take the focus off of what you’re going through and put that focus on them and how you can help to make their life better. It’s a win all around!

Tip #7. Ask for help. Seeking out professional help when those feelings of SADness just won’t go away is a sign of strength. A lot of strength. We’re not meant to live life alone, and this is especially true where our mental health is concerned. So, if things get too hard to handle—and even before, please spend some time with a trusted mental healthcare professional to ensure you’re getting all the help you need to feel better and continue progressing towards all the amazing things you want to accomplish!

The changing seasons can be both exciting and hard, so when you’re feeling more of the hard part of a season change, use these tips I’ve shared to hopefully turn the hard of a new season into a time of happiness, positive changes, and even some new adventures!


Related reading:

Simple At-Home Tabata Workout
When In Doubt, Write it Out: How Journaling Impacts Transformation and Weight Loss
Top Tips to TRANSFORM Your Eating Habits
Life Lessons Learned | Developing Integrity, Learning to Love Yourself, and Setting Boundaries
11 Tips for Stress Management

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