THE cold, dark January mornings can easily leave us feeling sluggish, sleepy and lacking in the get-up-and-go we need to tackle the day.
This is especially true straight after Christmas, where many of us have also overspent and overeaten, leaving our financial and physical health in a bit of a negative funk.
The good news is that you don’t need a bursting bank balance to kick-start your winter mojo, and you don’t need to rely on cup after cup of coffee, either.
“There are so many cost-effective ways to raise spirits and restore smiles as 2019 gets underway” says Liz Earle, founder of Liz Earle Wellbeing (lizearlewellbeing.com).
“Looking after our wellbeing shouldn’t mean spending lots of money on the latest fads.”
Here, Earle shares her top five budget-busting tips for keeping your energy levels up until spring rolls in...
1. Add a dose of homemade probiotics into your diet
“A daily dose of probiotics can make a real difference to gut health and therefore our overall health and wellbeing. However, shop-bought probiotics in the form of plain live yogurt and kombucha, or fermented foods such as kefir and pickled vegetables can be expensive, and full of added sugar. Why not try making your own instead? You’ll be surprised how easy and cost-effective this is.
“Live yogurt is so easy to make overnight with a little milk, and I always have a kombucha ferment (a type of fizzy tea) on the go in my kitchen.
“I make my own kefir using fresh live kefir grains or powders and organic whole milk a couple of times a week — it’s so much cheaper than shop-bought versions and cuts out the plastic bottle waste too.
“Making sauerkraut couldn’t be easier or cheaper, either. Simply pack chopped cabbage in salty water for two to three weeks to ferment it, before adding a spoonful to simple lunch and supper dishes. It’s especially good on a baked potato or with cheese.”
2. Introduce a pocket of stillness into
“Last year, I travelled through Sardinia and Greece to investigate Blue Zones; special regions where people share a common lifestyle, whose exceptional longevity has been verified. One of the key learnings that has stayed with me is how weaving ‘pockets of still’ into our day can have a hugely beneficial impact on our wellbeing.
“There are a variety of ways do this, such as meditation or relaxing walks, and all of them are free. Like most working mothers, I feel as though I’m on the go the whole time, but I now make an effort to build a small dose of quiet ‘downtime’ into each day — even if it’s just 10 minutes of sitting in the garden with a book.”
3. Stretch daily
“One of the easiest ways to knock years off how you look and feel is to make a real effort to improve posture — and it’s never too late to start. By standing truly upright, feet flat on the ground, head looking straight ahead, shoulders back and lowered, you immediately feel more alive.
“I’m the first to admit that it’s difficult to break old posture habits.
“One of my favourite tips for releasing tension and lowering shoulders is to hold your arms behind your back and grasp the opposite elbow — this immediately brings you to a more upright position and you can feel the shoulders relaxing downwards.
“Don’t forget to stretch your face muscles too - pulling a wide grin helps tone and tighten the skin as well as releasing endorphins happy in the brain to lift a low mood.”
4. Give your gut time to rest
“It’s really important to allow our body, and therefore our gut, to rest from time to time. Whenever possible, try to rest your gut overnight, allowing a clear 12-hour window when nothing is eaten.
“I try to have a juice cleanse at least twice a year too.
“Whilst the initial investment in a juicer can be expensive, you’ll find you’ve made a considerable saving in the long-term.
“I follow the 70-30 rule, making 70% of my juice from veggies, as pure fruit juices are very high in sugars.”
5. Spend more time outside
“Natural daylight and fresh air increase our sense of wellbeing and happiness, so don’t let the cold weather stop you from getting outside at this time of year.
“Whether it’s a leisurely stroll in the park or a brisk walk to a meeting, being outside can lift our moods, ease anxiety and wake up a sluggish mind.
“I’m a recent convert to running and enjoy early-morning runs around my West Country farm, or at the park near my office when I’m in London.”