Beating the Winter blues
By Celine Wallace
Wellness Expert and Founder of Sattva Soul Retreats
The world is constantly in transition, and for those of us in the Southern hemisphere who are moving into winter, it means it’s a time to hibernate and protect ourselves from freezing our little butts off. In summer it’s easy to be carefree, and out and about, while having fun in the sun, but when winter approaches it’s important to have a plan in place so we can maintain our health. What’s your winter wellness routine to ward off the lurgy months? Do you have one or do you wait and see how your body feels? We all know winter definitely has its charm, inviting snuggly nights by the fire and listening to the rain pitter-pattering on the roof, but aside from winter's little charms, winter also requires our bodies to fight off a new array of sicknesses in the air and climate change, which if not prepared can send us spiraling down the rabbit hole. Before we get into the middle of ‘sick season' with a little bit of preparation for how to stay warm, well and safe during the coming months, we can nourish our bodies from the inside and out. Here are some simple lifestyle tips for implementing in daily life. Hopefully, helping us leave peak sick season, not sick.
Beat the winter blues, lifestyle tips:
· Get your body moving.
Although dragging your body out of the warmth of your house and into the cold probably isn't the most appealing idea during winter, it is actually one of the best things you can do for your health. During winter we have a tendency to become lethargic, and our circulation slows down, we eat more to keep our bodies warm and we sit more. Rugging up and getting the body moving to get fresh oxygen to our brains, and blood flowing to our muscles will release endorphins (the happy chemical) in the brain. It will not only keep us sane, but stronger, more content and might help us shred that winter layer too. Hot workout studios are a great place to start with hot vinyasa flow yoga having both physical and mental benefits. Physically, sweat releases toxins and re-energizes our bodies. Mentally, the synchronized breathing relaxes the chatter of the mind and helps to release any blockages of energy throughout the body. If yoga isn't your thing then why not get outside and get in touch with nature by going for a run? Just make sure you cover up your hands, feet, and head. The smaller parts of our bodies absorb the cold the fastest, especially if they aren't covered. So get that beanie on and get outside, feeling your feet on the ground, heart beating and body warming up, as the cold air around you cools you down. Add some music to that and what a way to start the day!
· Nourish your body.
As the seasons change so do the fresh foods available and we should adjust our diets to match what is readily available. Luckily, with winter comes a whole new selection of delicious vegetables, so it's important not just to stop eating our summer fruits and vegetables without replacing them with something of equal or more nutritious value. Eat more body warming and nutrient-rich foods, like cooked foods, root vegetables, spices, porridge, hearty soups, and stews. As well, as eating more warming, hearty and nutrient-rich foods make sure to support your immune system by keeping yourself hydrated. Many people forget this one, but it's equally as important to stay hydrated in winter as it is in summer. Think along the lines of more warming drinks, such as herbal teas and hot water with lemon and ginger when you wake up and throughout the day to keep your body temperature up. These will also help you feel warm and nourished.
· Supplement season supplies.
It's easy to think we can get out of this season without a little extra help, but the truth is our bodies are working double time to fight off the cold and flu's floating around us. If you're worried about spending a fortune on vitamins here are a few basics that won't cost a fortune but should be staples for this time of year. After all, wouldn't you rather spend money on preventing sickness, than spending money dealing with illness at the doctor's office? I know I would.
- Vitamin C: Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin C doesn't prevent colds and flu, but it can reduce the length and severity of symptoms. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant. This means it protects the body against disease including heart disease and cancer. It is vital for the production of collagen, used to build body tissue and bones.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential for repairing tissues needed for growth and development. It is also necessary for strengthening the immune system and maintaining good eyesight.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant protecting cell membranes from damage, and is thought to protect against some cancers and heart disease.
- Olive Leaf: Olive Leaf extract is an important antioxidant that supports the immune system; supports heart health and healthy blood sugar levels. (https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-233/olive)
· Adjust your daily rituals.
This time of year is for hibernation and reflection so take this downtime as a time to recharge and renew your energy before things rev up into spring. Make sure you adjust your daily rituals to reflect this time of year by going to bed earlier to ensure you get a good eight hours sleep and keeping the kidneys warm by rugging up in the cold. Keep your head, neck, upper back, and belly warm and safe from the wind. Wear a hat and a jacket with a warm collar or scarf. It's so easy to keep moving through our paces in winter without stopping to physically and mentally slow down, but again use this time constructively, rather than as a hindrance. As soon as you start to think of winter as a burden, you'll begin to fight the season, tire yourself out and invite sickness where it's not wanted.
· Keep a journal and get motivated.
Last, but not least, winter comes halfway through the year, so it's a great time to stop and reflect on the beginning of the year. How were the last six months for you? What do you want for the next six months to look like? A journal can be a powerful tool for achieving your goals. You can even think of journaling as a self-coaching session. Start keeping a journal and writing out your plans for the second half of the year. Do you want to go on a holiday; can you make some steps toward planning that now? Perhaps, you would like to create something that you've always thought about, but didn't have the time too? Keeping a journal forces you to commit your goals to writing. When you write down your goals you turn vague desires into well-articulated targets you can clearly see and aim for. You're taking the first step toward turning the desires in your head into something concrete that exists in the material world.
Are you excited for winter now? Okay, maybe not excited, but with hopefully with these lifestyle tips you can stay ahead of the season and ahead of the flu. Now, you can actually enjoy those nights by the fire, listening to rain on the roof while sipping on hot chocolate and brainstorming your dream holiday and life goals in your journal. Exactly, when you put it that way, winter doesn't sound so bad after all.