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Author: Christian Baker, a professional speaker and nutritional specialist, talks about behavioral changes people may experience during the winter. He offers 5 effective strategies that help stay energised and get back on track during colder months.

I love winter. From the mental boost that comes from a frosty morning to the cosiness that comes from curling up under the blankets at night, it really is one of my favourite times of the year. 

However, I'm not a fan of the darkness that comes with it and am currently petitioning mother nature to create 16 hours of sunshine per day and only turn the lights down when it's time to go to bed.

There hasn't been much progress so far but I'll be sure to keep you updated.

Now, as much as I love winter there are of course some disadvantages. It is not uncommon to feel lethargic, hungrier than usual and even downright depressed during winter.

So here are 5 highly effective and immediately actionable strategies to help you boost energy, improve productivity and not just survive but thrive during winter.

1. Embrace the cold

You can spend most of your winter wearing layer upon layer of clothes, turning your house and car heater up to the max at all times and retreating to the comfort of your electric blanket each night if you like.

Or, you could try something different.

There are a lot of benefits that come with cold exposure.

These include a boost to the immune system (no, little Johnny will not catch a cold if he goes outside without a jacket as long as he keeps his exposure brief enough), a boost to your fat burning capabilities and even a mental performance and mood boost.

Interestingly, a popular method for treating patients with serious depression in the past was to give them daily ice baths.

Trust me, the flood of endorphins that hits you after an ice bath is something that must be experienced to be believed and I highly recommend it.

Now, if you're freaked out at the thought of having an ice bath let alone having one during a cold winter's night I'll give you 2 options.

Cold exposure option #1:

When you wake up in the morning, spend the first 2 to 3 minutes completely exposed to the cold. For me this means walking outside in my boxer shorts and exposing myself to the cold each morning.

Now, of course this will vary in difficulty depending on where you live, as someone in the Sunshine Coast will have a much easier time than someone in Melbourne.

I have personally tested this in -6°C weather in Berlin, Germany and not only did I survive but you can bet your frosty ass I felt very energised afterwards.

Cold exposure option #2:

Take an Ice bath a la Wim Hof. Not only can this help you to feel energised and provide a boost to your mood but it is also great training for mental fortitude.

Now, no matter how tough you are I recommend you ease yourself into this as going too hard too soon can actually be dangerous.

So here's how to do it.

Go to the supermarket, convenience store, petrol station or your local ice cube dealer and buy yourself 2 bags of ice, this should give you 9 to 10kg of ice depending on the bag.

Fill a bathtub with cold water and then add the ice cubes after the tub has been filled otherwise you risk scratching your bathtub.
  • Beginner ice bath: Jump in the tub and sit up, leaving your upper body mostly out of the water and try to stay in for at least 3 minutes but aim for 5.
  • Intermediate ice bath: Same as above but stay in for 10 minutes.
  • Advanced ice bath: Spend the first 10 minutes as above, the next 5 with your upper body mostly immersed and only your arms and face outside of the water and then the final 5 minutes with everything under the water except your face.

Read more: Using Beneficial Stress to Find Flow 


2. Sunshine

The sun doesn't shine as bright, rise as high, or for as long during the winter months so it's important to get some sun exposure when you can.

Even 10 minutes of sun exposure each day can create a noticeable difference to your energy levels and mood. If it's a sunny morning you can combine the above 2 strategies and get your cold exposure and sun exposure at the same time.

Also, by stepping out into the sun first thing in the morning you may receive some additional benefits from the UV rays hitting your eyes (Do not look directly into the sun, just look up to the sky) such as increased mental performance later in the day.

Also, thanks to Australia's obsession with slip, slop, slap and avoiding the sun at all costs we are becoming a country increasingly depleted in Vitamin D levels, even during summer.

Vitamin D has many roles to play in the body and one of the most relevant to winter is immune function, so by getting some sun exposure during winter you may be preventing your usual winter cold or flu that you've come to expect each year.

3. Sunshine in a pill

Now, if you're having a hard time getting enough sun exposure or you want some additional insurance you can now take sunshine in a pill.

Well, almost.

Vitamin D supplements are widely available in Australia and are quite cheap too.

Always take Vitamin D3 and not Vitamin D2.

D3 is the form that is as close as possible to the Vitamin D we produce in our own bodies when exposed to the sun. D2 is not as effective at helping you top up your Vitamin D levels.

Bulletproof A-D-K vitamins
Bulletproof Vitamins A-D-K include a powerful combination of vitamins A, D3 and K2 for immune, heart and bone support

Also, Vitamin D tends to absorb better when combined with Vitamin K, apart from buying a Vitamin D3 supplement that also includes K2 (The preferred form of Vitamin K) you can also get this valuable vitamin from the following sources:

  • Fermented foods like Sauerkraut and Kimchi
  • Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Most varieties of cabbage
  • Most meats (especially organ meats) and eggs

4. Move, don't hibernate

The cold and darkness of winter can often make you feel like sitting idle and not exercising very much. However, the thing is that when you feel low on energy you don't want to exercise yet when you exercise you tend to feel more energetic.

It's a classic chicken and egg situation.

So if you're having a hard time getting yourself in the mood to exercise or it just feels like too much effort, try this instead:

Workout for just 10 minutes.

Seriously, it's enough to make you feel great and there is no need to feel guilty about going home after just a 10-minute workout.

And then, next time, do 15 minutes, or perhaps 20 minutes. Most likely after awhile you will feel so good after the first 10 to 20 minutes that you will want to stay for another 10 to 20 and eventually you'll be back to doing 45 minute to 1 hour workouts again and you'll be training just like it was summer again.

man running on ice

As for the workout types, simply take whatever your current preferred workout routine is and shorten it.

If you're a beginner and don't know what kind of workout to do then ask a friend, a trainer or spend some time on the internet as there are almost limitless options as to what you can do.

Read more: How Exercise is Good for Chronic Fatigue

5. Have more sex

People tend to have more sex in summer and less in winter.

There is a hilarious ad campaign promoting safe sex and condom use here in Germany that always runs during summer in response to the increased friskiness of the general population.

Unfortunately, the prudes in the Australian government are unlikely to ever allow such a campaign but to give you an idea it literally shows a man with his crotch on fire and a fireman spraying him with a hose and says something along the lines of "if it burns when you use it, see your doctor".

But I digress.

Sex is great, not only is it fun but it provides a whole handful of hormonal benefits including a boost to the immune system, your mood and your energy levels.

If you have a partner, please present them this blog post as evidence that the two of you must have more sex in order to improve your health this winter. It's your duty and it's the right thing to do for your health.

Or, if you're single like I currently am, go out and get social and meet people.

Or, use social apps like Tinder and Bumble to meet other single people, these apps are as ubiquitous as Facebook and Instagram now and there really isn't any stigma attached to meeting people on there anymore.

On a side note:

  • Guys: Please don't be sleazy, be polite but also focused and try to move the conversation off the app and into the real world within a week if possible.
  • Girls: We know you're getting a lot of matches and that you receive a lot of sleazy messages but please remember that not all men are like this and it is possible to meet a great guy through these apps.

There, I've done a great thing for society today.

Anyway, this is not a dating advice post, use whatever methods (that are of course ethical, legal and safe) you wish to increase your frequency of sex and enjoy the benefits that come along with it.

And that's it.

So if you want to stay strong, energised, motivated, fit and not get sick this winter be sure to do the following:

  • Regularly expose yourself to the cold
  • Regularly expose yourself to the sun or take some sunshine in a pill
  • Keep exercising regularly
  • Have more sex

Have fun and feel free to let me know how you go in the comments.

Until next time,
Live with Energy
Christian Baker

P.S. By taking and using the advice from this post and all of the content here in the blog I am confident that you will be able to fight fatigue, sharpen your focus and deal with stress.

Guest Author
Guest Author

This article was contributed by a guest author with expert knowledge in their field.

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