As we welcome spring, it's time to shake off those late-winter blues. Follow these tips and you'll sail through your busiest days with ease.
1. To end tiredness: Do micro moves.
Move the large muscles in your legs for 60 seconds — dancing to your favorite tune, stomping up and down a set of stairs, or taking a quick dash outside — and your energy level could soar by 80 percent for 90 minutes, say Canadian researchers. Turns out, even a short burst of motion — as long as you’re moving some of the large muscles in your body, like your thigh muscles — switches on the genes that heighten insulin sensitivity, helping your muscles and brain cells soak up 23 percent more energizing glucose.
2. To clear fog: Nix the norm.
If foggy thinking saps your ability to stay on task, here’s a fix: British scientists say changing up how you do a “brainless” chore (like brushing your teeth) by using your non-dominant hand or heading down grocery aisles in a different direction than usual can end brain fog in as little as 60 seconds, plus rev your mental energy and multitasking ability by 45 percent. That’s because challenging yourself by making everyday routines feel different prompts your brain to release a surge of energizing, focus-enhancing acetylcholine.
3. To deepen sleep: Warm your eyes.
Restless sleep is draining one in three of us right now. The reason? Your brain releases sleep-inducing melatonin when the sun sets — but it’s been so dreary that your brain isn’t getting that day-to-night signal. The good news: Studies suggest draping a warm cloth or sleep mask across your eyes when you stretch out can help you drift off in 5 minutes since warming the capillaries around your eyes kick-starts melatonin release. Try tossing a mask in the dryer a few minutes before lights out.
4. To ease aches: Squeeze here.
Damp, raw weather — plus spending more sedentary time indoors — causes a drop in your brain’s production of painkilling endorphins, doubling the risk of draining aches and pains. A simple and soothing Rx: Firmly massage the webbing between your fingers (using small circular motions) for one minute every hour. British researchers say this simple DIY massage could slash your soreness by 45 percent since regularly stimulating the pressure-sensitive nerves between your fingers prods your brain to release a steady trickle of powerful endorphins.
5. To sharpen memory: Shift your eyes.
Relax in a comfortable spot and slowly move your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds and you’ll rev your short-term memory and recall by as much as 42 percent for one hour. That’s the word from researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England, who say repetitive side-to-side eye motions energize both the right and left hemispheres of the brain simultaneously — a trick that heightens memory retention by increasing electrical activity and communication between the two sides of your brain.
6. To induce calm: Breathe in coriander.
Feeling edgy or stressed? Try taking six slow, deep sniffs of coriander — either the ground spice, the seeds, or the essential oil. According to researchers at Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, coriander’s nutty, citrusy aroma stimulates the brain’s limbic system, spurring the release of calming alpha brain waves and making even chronic tension melt away in as little as 60 seconds.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.