It’s easy to start feeling more tired and lethargic during the winter months.
The wetter weather and darker mornings can contribute to a change in our physical activity, eating habits, sleep patterns and how we feel generally. Here’s our guide to staying active, energised and thriving as a vegan over the colder months.
Fuel your body with the right foods
The cold weather can often lead us to indulge in more sugary foods that may not always be the healthiest and can contribute to lower energy or a low mood. That’s why it’s important to make sure you are eating a variety of wholegrain carbohydrates, proteins and vegetables to maintain and boost your energy levels. We recommend trying to be more innovative with your go-to comfort meals, by incorporating more vegetables and salads into them to leave you feeling more nourished and prevent energy slumps. Check out our Vegan & Thriving recipe hub for some inspiration – including this amazing Feel-Good Laksa Noodle Curry or this warming, nutritious Moroccan-spiced tofu and giant couscous recipe!
Ensure you are getting enough vitamin D
Our bodies create vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin, which is much easier to achieve in the summer with the longer days and ability to spend more time outside. Because of this, we recommend taking a vitamin D supplement. Our VEG 1 supplements provide a variety of affordable and reliable key vitamins to make sure your body is getting the nutrients you need all year round.
As the days become shorter in the winter, try using as much of the daylight hours as possible by doing most of your physical activity in the daytime whilst it’s still light out. This is not only the safer option, but can help with motivation levels. For that extra energy boost in the morning, even allowing more sunlight into the room by opening the curtains or going for a short walk early in the day can help you feel more energised and awake.
Increase social interactions
You don’t have to exercise alone. In fact, being around family and friends can boost your mood and help motivate you to do things that are good for you. To help with motivation levels, why not ask a friend or loved one to be your workout partner? This will not only help to hold you both accountable, but it allows for more fun and social interaction – making it a win-win! You could also hire a personal trainer or sign up to local gym classes or perhaps arrange to join a local meet-up group in your area for vegans – as being surrounded by others with the same goals can help to motivate you to stay consistent.
As the temperature drops and the days get shorter, we know how tempting it can be to stay in and keep cosy and warm rather than exercise. However, it’s so important to stay active throughout the colder months as exercise not only helps us stay fit, healthy and feeling energised, but increased regular physical activity releases endorphins that can help you beat the seasonal blues. Moderate exercise such as brisk walking, household chores or climbing stairs can help us get out of bed on cold, dark mornings as well as strengthen our immune system against coughs and colds. Remember to stay hydrated and wrap up warm – layers are your best friend during the colder season to help you stay insulated. Make sure you have staples like a warm pair of socks, a hat or beanie and thermals as well as reflective materials on your clothing to help you stay safe if you choose to work out while it's dark outside. But most importantly, remember to dress in what you feel most comfortable in so you feel more confident!
Adopt a consistent sleep schedule
Whilst eating well and exercising regularly can also help with our sleep health, it’s important to adopt a consistent bedtime routine where possible. Keeping to the same sleeping hours and finding ways to wind down before bed, whether that be by reading a book or listening to your favourite podcast, can help to encourage better sleep – leaving you feeling active and energised the following day. We recommend avoiding screens and vigorous exercise where possible in the last hour before bed as this can make you feel more awake. In the mornings, also try to avoid hitting the snooze button on your alarm clock as this can have a negative effect on your sleep quality, risk impacting the quality of your sleep the following night and leave you feeling more lethargic throughout the day.
Embrace the cold weather
Whilst winter can seem daunting and poses many challenges with the change in weather and shorter days, it’s important to try and embrace the change in season when possible. Although chilly, the cold temperatures can help keep us alert and awake and encourages us to be innovative with our activities and how we approach our days. Why not make the most of the winter weather and start exercising by trying out a new sport or outdoor activities like ice skating, snowshoeing, tobogganing or ice hockey? No matter what you choose to do, be sure to enjoy this time of introspection and challenge yourself to take on the season with a new mindset.
We hope these tips help you to stay feeling active and energised through the winter. For more tips on how to thrive on a vegan diet, read our amazing Thriving Stories from a range of incredible vegan individuals, follow our #VeganandThriving campaign on socials and be sure to check out our recipe hub for more delicious and nutritious vegan meals!
The views expressed by our bloggers are not necessarily the views of The Vegan Society.