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Add to that all the extra holiday tasks and obligations, and you're working with a double deficit. Go with your seasonal rhythm: "Your mental and physical energy are influenced by the short days and long nights of winter," says Judith Wurtman, Ph D, research scientist at MIT and coauthor of The Serotonin Power Diet."People are more energetic earlier in the day." To that end, concentrate your highest-power tasks in the morning and early afternoon, and try to exercise later in the day to up your energy.Also make sure to eat protein at breakfast (think eggs with lowfat cheese, turkey bacon) and lunch to stay mentally alert.At dinner, include healthy carbs (whole grains like brown rice), which are what your body craves when it gets dark by late afternoon.Look for kinds made of 70 percent cacao or more; they have the strongest benefits. Canadian researchers found that 30 minutes of light therapy daily for eight weeks worked just as well as Prozac to ease depression.Not only that, the light therapy started having an effect within the first week, whereas the antidepressant took at least two weeks to kick in.'Tis the season for parties and cheer, memory making and cozy nights by the fire.
Learn what these effects are and how to use them to your advantage, and you'll have a happier, healthier winter.
"Seasonal variations in the amounts of light and darkness we're exposed to have a powerful effect on our biology," says Rubin Naiman, Ph D, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona and director of Circadian Health Associates.
Darkness prompts our bodies to produce the sleep hormone melatonin, making us feel fatigued.
Take a walk—even if it's a quick jaunt around your office or house.
"When you increase your heart rate, your blood pressure goes up, so the effect is like getting a shot of adrenaline," says Dr. Better yet, walk regularly: Researchers at the University of Georgia found that people who did low-intensity exercise (like walking) for 20 minutes three times a week reduced their fatigue levels by up to 65 percent.