Forget the January Blues – a combination of the dreary winter months, Christmas hangover and the political climate means more Britons feel worn-out in February than any other month of the year, according to a new survey by AXA PPP Healthcare.
As a result of this February fatigue, a third (32%) say they are more unproductive and nearly six in 10 Brits (57%) feel they’re ‘wasting’ valuable time, throwing away an average of two hours and 22 minutes per day.
This equates to almost three whole days lost this month, purely due to sheer exhaustion getting the better of us.
Dr Annabel Bentley, Chief Medical Officer at AXA PPP healthcare comments: “People going to their GP saying they are “tired all the time” is a really common issue – so common that it even has its own acronym: ‘TATT’. But despite severe tiredness being an ongoing battle for Brits, it’s unsurprising that we’re feeling even more fatigued in February than any other month; the cold weather and darker days alone can have a huge impact on a person’s mental and physical wellbeing, among other factors.
“However, fending off fatigue doesn’t have to feel like a tiresome chore in itself. There are a number of healthy habits we can try to do in our daily routines to help reduce physical and mental exhaustion, whether that’s improving our sleep, eating a healthy balanced diet or consciously switching-off from the 24-7 on-demand culture”.
Dr Annabel Bentley has created eight top tips to help Brits fight the fatigue this February, including:
1. Sleep hygiene is key
Getting into a regular routine will help you get better sleep. Make sure your bed is in a dark room and don’t use ‘blue light’ – such as your mobile phone – as it may interrupt sleep patterns. Turn off your phone several hours before bed or put it outside your bedroom door so you’re not tempted to look at it in the night.
2. Don’t drink coffee late in the day or evening
Whilst coffee is commonly used for a quick ‘pick-me-up’, it has a long half-life, around 5-6 hours for the average adult. This means any consumption of coffee in the afternoon and evenings will still affect your brain when you’re trying to sleep at night.
3. Get outside and get some daylight!
February is a time of year where we have less natural light, so aim to get out in the middle of the day and avoid being stuck indoors to improve your physical and mental health – whether that’s a short walk around the block or simply going out to get your lunch.
4. Get active
Exercise is important but going to the gym isn’t for everyone – find a way of getting active that you enjoy, whether that’s simply going for a walk or playing ‘team sports’ with your friends or colleagues or taking up dancing. Yoga is also another way to boost your mental health as meditating helps to calm your mind.
Spending quality time with family and friends, or even your pets, is a simple way of taking take to relax and calm your mind. And to make the most of it and really reap the benefits, why not book a spa day or a trip away to really relax.
6. No nightcaps
Don’t use alcohol as a way to beat fatigue – it will stop you sleeping properly, and you may well end up feeling more fatigued as a result.
7. Have a digital detox
Set a time to switch off your phone and 24-7 access to TV and films. If you find yourself doing meaningless ‘scrolling’ on social media, take some time out either by limiting your use each day or giving it up. It can be a non-value adding activity and may harm your mental health.
8. Get back into good food habits
Don’t get caught up in ordering takeaway food when you’re feeling tired. Cooking from scratch can actually be a simple way of relaxing your mind… and using healthier ingredients! Food prepping at the start of the week will also make sure you don’t fall into unhealthy eating habits as you already have all your meals ready and will stop you from snacking on unhealthy foods.
About the expert
Dr Annabel Bentley is Chief Medical Officer at AXA PPP healthcare. Dr Bentley began her career as a surgeon in the NHS before taking up senior positions in the healthcare industry. Her previous roles include medical director at Bupa Health and Wellbeing. She joined AXA PPP healthcare in April 2018.