5 WAYS TO ENERGISE YOUR DAY IN LOCKDOWN
In one sense, lockdown can present a challenging time where we are thrown off our normal, daily routines and this can be a problem for some people. Working from home, or not working, and having a decrease in activity level can lead to us being out of rhythm, and potentially feeling lethargic and out of sorts. However, it is a great opportunity to form new and lasting habits. Here are some ideas to energise your day in lockdown and increase mental focus both during lockdown and beyond.
1. Exercise – and exercise early. Exercising has not only numerous physical benefits for your general health and wellbeing, but is also equally as important for your mental wellbeing. When we exercise, we release endorphins (a type of neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger) that increase our mental focus and improve our mood. Physical activity also increases production in dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which play a massive role in regulating your mood. Serotonin, for example, has a huge influence on your overall sense of confidence and well-being, as well as mood, appetite and sleep cycles. Exercising early in the day can stimulate release of these and leave us feeling focused, energised and motivated and ready for the day ahead. Even if you don’t feel like exercising as such, a recent study, showed going for a walk even when you don’t expect to feel any better can lead to increase in positive mental wellbeing throughout the day.
2. Eat regular meals – Eating regular meals is a great way to regulate your blood sugar levels, which will stop you from experiencing ‘crashes’ in energy, as well as keeping you fuller for longer and stop you reaching for those high-sugar snacks. Eating before you are extremely hungry is the best way to ensure you are going to make better food choices and not just reach for the easiest and quickest food available. This will also provide you with a stable source of energy throughout the day!
3. Eat more vitamin and mineral rich foods – Eat your 5 a day is a common phrase we hear when talking about healthy eating guidelines, however, it couldn’t be closer to the truth! Dark, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and avocados, are packed full of B Vitamins which have been shown to increase energy levels and decrease feelings of lethargy. Other minerals such as Iron, Magnesium and Zinc have been shown to increase mental focus and concentration as well as improve physical energy levels. Spinach and Kale are two good examples of vegetables packed full of these minerals, with fruits like bananas containing a mix of both vitamins and minerals (B Vitamins, potassium and magnesium). If you are someone who struggles to eat their 5 a day, it may be a good option to consider supplementing these vitamins and minerals to help energise your day.
4. Cut down on refined sugars – Just as we mentioned above, eating refined, simple carbohydrates, such as white breads or sugars, can lead to a spike in blood sugar. This spike causes the body to release insulin to bring it back down, which can lead to our energy levels feeling similar to a rollercoaster. These carbohydrates lose the majority of their fibre and nutritional value during the refining process. Choosing to fuel up on wholemeal, complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, brown bread, and sweet potatoes, are a great way to regulate your blood sugar and energy levels through a more stable release of glucose into your bloodstream. These wholemeal choices are also packed full of fibre, which is great for digestion, and the vitamins and minerals we mentioned above which have such an impact on energy levels.
5. Create a healthy sleeping pattern – The benefits of getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night make it one of the most important pieces of advice when talking about health and energy. Studies have shown that being sleep deprived (6 hours or less) can lead to an increase in calorie intake of up to 385cals per day, and being more prone to reaching for sugary, quick-fix foods that the brain associates with fast-acting energy. Avoiding blue LED screens before bed (phone or TV) is key, as these block the brain from receiving the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, which naturally causes us to fall asleep. Caffeine is another massive sleep disruptor for the same reason. So avoiding high-caffeinated drinks after 5pm and putting your phone away and TV off half an hour of bed can massively help to get you to sleep and create a healthy, energising sleeping pattern.
So although your ordinary routine may no longer exist, use this time to refocus and reset your mind by doing those things you never have the time usually to do. It may feel like a struggle but if you start slowly and keep the above tips in mind on how to energise your day you will be off to a flying start.
Over this period, The Fitness Group have been working closely with students to develop their skillset and increase their knowledge by providing online courses in Pre & Postnatal, Nutrition or Mental Health. So if you are already a personal trainer or want to learn a new skill then get in touch about our online courses.
Head over to our Instagram for more fitness related tips & to see what The Fitness Group students have been doing during lockdown.
Chronic response of rat brain norepinephrine and serotonin levels to endurance training
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