Do you find yourself hitting the snooze button increasingly more as the mornings begin to get chillier? Does an IV drip of caffeine sound like a good idea? Are you feeling a tinge of bitter disdain for those freaks of nature who have already knocked out a 5-mile run, showered, dressed (well), and tackled morning emails by 6am.
As the seasons’ change and the days get shorter, it can be a struggle to feel zippy in the mornings. Particularly when your morning commute is looking progressively more gray and dim. Seasonal fatigue does not mesh well with our busy, modern schedules.
Humans were not designed to follow a schedule dictated by a clock or calendar. Our bodies are designed to sync to the universe, and our circadian rhythms are endogenously generated. Because of this, changing our cycle of energy and productivity is not as easy to change as a clock.
The bad news is, your boss is likely not going to change your workload or schedule because of your declining energy level. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to boost your energy levels during this time.
Here’s What You Can Do to Prevent Seasonal Fatigue:
Cold or not, put on your favorite pair of overpriced boots, get outside and soak up the sunlight. Vitamin D levels can plummet when we do not get enough sun exposure, and low blood levels of Vitamin D can cause fatigue. A vitamin can only do so much…there is no substitute for what the sun does for us!
Getting less sun exposure will undoubtedly disrupt our circadian rhythm, increase your melatonin levels (sleep hormone) and increase your need for sleep and feelings of fatigue. Open the blinds, turn your desk to the window if possible, go for a walk at lunchtime, and find as many ways possible to get at least 10-15 minutes of sun exposure daily.
As tempting as the snooze button is, find a way to avoid it as 5 extra minutes of bliss will only make you feel more fatigued later! Put your alarm clock on the other side of the room, buy a second, more obnoxious alarm if need be to help get your heart racing and get you out of bed. Frolicking whilst enveloped in soft, warm bedding may be incredibly tempting, but oversleeping can make you feel wiped out the next day and make the challenge even harder.
If you are a chronic snoozer, check out the Alarmy App! This app creates all sorts of innovative ways to force you to wake up in order to turn your alarm off! Equal parts brilliant and evil as one option is to solve a math problem.There are other less evil options…
Try to establish habits like going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day, even on the weekends. Set healthy boundaries with your loved ones and your technological devices to ensure you are getting a bare minimum of 7 hours of undisturbed sleep each night. And lastly, stop consuming caffeine from 5 pm on to avoid disrupting your body’s energy cycle.
When you are struggling to make it through the workday because of low energy, the last thing you feel like doing is hitting the gym on your way home from work.
Do it anyway!
What I suggest is committing to at least stopping at the gym, even if all you do is spend 5 minutes changing your clothes, use the bathroom and walk back out. Chances are, once you are there, your energy will shift, and you will feel more motivated. And if all you can muster on that day is one good Turkish Get-Up or 5 minutes of walking on the treadmill, consider it a success as you are still grooving the habit of getting there.
There is always a workaround!
If you can’t come up with one, I promise I can help you with that!
Please know that while many people experience seasonal fatigue as months get colder and darker, it’s not usually anything to be alarmed about. However, if your struggle is less of an annoyance and more debilitating, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder or something more serious. I suggest you see your doctor, have your bloodwork checked for deficiencies and make sure there aren’t any underlying physical or mental conditions causing your fatigue.