January is not exactly what you call fun, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere anyway. Dark evenings, plenty of rain and cold wind…what was that about jumping out of bed in the morning and making 2020 your year?
Energy really can be at an all time low at this time of the year, but there are most definitely ways of boosting your energy (even short of emmigrating!). A lot of my planning for the year is done in January, and it’s the month that kick starts all my conferences and travel for the year, so I have to be super organised just to get through it. And organisation really is much easier if I’m bursting with energy, so read on to find out what I rely on when I really just don’t feel like I can even start to tackle my to-do list.
1. Pack your diet full of energy
Most of us don’t eat as much fruit and veg as we should, and we possibly eat far less of it even than we think we do. The antioxidants, vitamins and minerals contained in fresh produce, especially of the green variety, can do wonders for your health, your skin and most definitely your energy. However, a salad is the last thing I feel like after a long day at work and a freezing cold walk home (a pizza or a large bowl of anything carby and cheesy most is definitely preferable). This is where warm salads come in! A lot of restaurants do a “breakfast salad” (usually chock full of black pudding and bacon, not exactly what I’m going for, but not way off), and it is a way to increase your vegetable intake in a slightly more tempting way on those cold, dark evenings. My favourite bases include rosemary roasted sweet potato and pear, and garlic roasted sweet potato with a lemon and curry dressing. I share a lot of them on Instagram, so you check out which looks most appealing here.
Soup is another way to warm up your lunch or dinner, but I can only ever use this as a starter as I’d be starved otherwise. Smoothies are generally my go-to for earlier in the day. A green smoothie at breakfast is one of the easiest ways to hit the ground running, and can be prepped the night before, so you don’t even have to set your alarm clock any earlier. If the colour green really puts you off, you could try this turmeric one instead.
It might seem a bit random thrown in here, I know. But you know that friend (we all have one) that just seems to complain about EVERYTHING? You know the one, always moaning about work, about what happened last weekend, about their mum/dad/significant other/other friends/work colleagues etc. The one that just drains the life out of you?! Minimising your contact with people who sap your energy can only be a good thing…but did you ever think that you might be one of them? You might present a happy front to the world (or you might not!) but equally important is how you speak to yourself. If your immediate response to things not going to plan (and I know that hardly covers it sometimes) is to panic, catastrophize, and focus on the downside…you might want to rethink that. This way of thinking can put you in “fight or flight” mode for a huge chunk of your day, and while, let’s face it, sh*t hits the fan every so often, this should not be how most of your days are spent – because that would be exhausting, right?
I have experimented with different mindfulness, meditation and journalling practices over the last 15 years and all of them have their benefits, and can really help in changing how you react to not-so-great situations. However, the best one is the one that you can actually make a habit of. I was given The Positive Planner for Christmas this year, and I have really found it easier than most things to do. To date I’ve missed one morning, which is record-breaking for me. The 10% Happier podcast (and the book) is another resource I’ve used over the years, and is the perfect intro that is not too “woo-woo” for the average meditation virgin. Anything that gets you to pause for a couple of minutes everyday can make an impact, even just writing down 3 things that you’re grateful for before bed.
Always a fan of a helping hand I can knock back with my morning coffee, Coenzyme Q10 is exactly that. I have been drinking bulletproof coffee for a couple of years now, and the mental clarity it gives me is a bit addictive. Coenzyme Q10 not only complements that perfectly, but because it’s absorption is helped by fat, my bulletproof coffee is the perfect partner for it.
So what is coenzyme Q10, and what’s so great about it? Coenzyme Q10 is something we all have naturally in our bodies. Our mitochondria (the batteries in our cells – so our battery essentially) use it to produce energy. Certain pharmaceutical drugs (one being the oral contraceptive pill) can reduce blood levels of coenzyme Q10 by up to 40%. Supplementing with 100-200mg of coenzyme Q10 daily can help offset this, and help your mitochondria function better – resulting in more energy. Coenzyme Q10, ubiquinone and ubiquinol are all names for the same molecule and idebenone is a synthetic pharmaceutical that is similar, and shown to improve skin and help brain cells stay healthy in mice.
I would love to hear from you if you have tried any of the above and if they or didn’t work for you – or if you have any others ways to help improve your energy levels.