Feeling overcome with tiredness? You’re not alone. Luckily, putting the happy pep back in your step is just a simple move away, thanks to natural fixes that reverse cold-weather weariness.
Ease stress with a morning read.
That heartwarming novel you love reading before bed is a great way to unwind. Turns out, picking it up to enjoy a chapter or two when you first wake up can also set you up for a stress-free day!
Having a positive experience early in the day reduces your output of the stress hormone cortisol for 16 hours, according to a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, so you stay calm, cool and collected all day.
Toss worries aside.
If there’s something bugging you that you just can’t shake, write it down on a slip of paper, then tear it up and toss it away. Ohio State University scientists say that the brain processes thoughts as though they are objects, so physically discarding worries helps your mind let go of them faster.
“Fantasy shopping” boosts happiness.
When your stamina flags, it’s often because of a drop in the body’s level of the energizing brain chemical dopamine. But a little retail therapy is a fun way to shake off sluggishness. Browsing online spurs the release of tiredness-taming dopamine, University of Michigan scientists report — and you don’t even have to buy anything! Plus, simply spotting a good deal was shown to boost joy for 80 percent of women studied.
Quiet aches by channeling Wonder Woman.
To keep chronic discomfort at bay, pretend you’re a superhero and imagine yourself fearlessly bouncing back from any challenge that life throws at you.
Cornell investigators found that resilient women had significantly fewer daily aches from age-related conditions like arthritis and menopause than those who felt less mentally tough. They say that’s because knowing you’re capable of rebounding from a setback soothes anxiety, an emotion that would otherwise heighten the brain’s pain response.
Peel an orange.
Snack on a clementine or kiwifruit for quick revitalization. Arizona State University scientists say foods rich in vitamin C switch on enzymes that repair damaged muscle cells, cutting healing time in half and boosting your pep by 33 percent.
Sharpen focus by brushing your hair.
Feeling foggy? Do something out of the ordinary, like brushing your hair with your left hand if you’re a righty. Changing even small parts of your daily routine encourages the brain to churn out more of a focus-enhancing chemical called acetylcholine, which British researchers say sharpens concentration by 45% in 60 seconds.
It sounds counter intuitive, but Harvard scientists say letting your mind wander can actually help you focus. The reason: Daydreaming allows your brain’s frontal cortex, the area responsible for resisting distractions, to rest and recharge, so you’re able to attack your to-do’s with renewed vigor.
Sidestep a slump by doing the hustle.
If your spirits dip in the afternoon, cue up a favorite song from your youth and cut a rug. Moving the major muscles in your legs for just 60 seconds sends your energy soaring by 80 percent for 90 minutes, Canadian scientists report. That’s because the quick burst of motion switches on genes that enhance insulin sensitivity. This allows your muscles to soak up and use more energizing glucose for fuel.
Crack a window.
It may be cold out, but opening a window an inch for five minutes will perk you right up! Studies show it clears away energy-sapping carbon dioxide that naturally builds up when we keep our home tightly closed in winter.
Send joy soaring with a bedside plant.
Decorating your nightstand with a jade, silver dollar plant or holiday cactus ensures you’ll wake up feeling sunny. These succulents fuel your body with brain-nourishing oxygen while you snooze. And University of Michigan scientists say waking up after breathing in that extra oxygen lifts your spirits by 20 percent.
What’s more, Harvard scientists say surrounding yourself with greenery reminds you of your connection to nature, helping you feel upbeat in just two days.
Have a movie night.
Research in The British Journal of Psychiatry found watching movies or taking virtual museum visits with loved ones lowers your odds of feeling blue by 48 percent by nixing stress and deepening bonds.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.