I have a love-hate relationship with winter. Up in Vermont, winter can last, oh like... 6 months of the year. It's cold, dark, and can be rather gloomy at times. Yet, it's also so beautiful when there's a new snowstorm, the trees are glistened with snow, and it's pure white outside. As long as it's not too freezing, I also love to snowboard. There's something about being bathed by nature and the feeling of flying down a mountain.
Last year, I started to really understand the idea of embracing nature's cycles. As much as I love the warm sun, long days, and playfulness of summer, I wouldn't appreciate it as much if I didn't go through the other seasons. I'm lucky enough to live somewhere with distinct seasons - a gorgeous summer, crisp fall foliage, snowy winter, and blooming spring. Oh, and mud season (that counts up here too).
Wellness in Winter
Winter is an interesting time for wellness too. With the New Year comes a boost of interest in health, wellness, and finally losing that weight or getting in shape (resolutions, anyone?). Yet, it's also a time of hibernation where people stay inside more, rest, and reflect more.
Lately, I've been interested in Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga). Like you know, I'm all about intuitive eating, but I also love exploring ancient traditions. Winter is associated with vata, which is known as cold, air, dry, and light. When I heard this, I immediately connected - yup, I feel cold and dry all winter long. To balance it out, we can focus on warm, moist, and heavier (like stews) foods.
(Just for fun, I also took an online quiz on what dosha I am - and just like I suspected, I'm a vata. Here's a fun quiz if you're interested.)
Here's my tips for Winter Wellness
1. Hydrate (with hot liquids)!
I notice immediately if I have a day when I'm not hydrating as much - my skin is so dry, and I'm not as energized. Compared to the summer when I crave cold liquids, hot tea is my drink of choice in the winter.
Besides keeping my hands warm, the hot liquids soothe and warm me up inside out and keep things moving in my digestive tract, which may be slower in the winter.
My favorites are ginger, licorice root, and tulsi teas. I'm also planning on whipping up a batch of fire cider soon - it's a potent tonic full of immune system goodies like garlic, ginger, and onions.
2. Dose up Vitamin D.
It's great to get your Vitamin D levels checked at least once a year, and I prefer clients' levels around 40-60 ng/ml. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient for so many functions in your body, including immune system, hormonal health, and your nervous systems. While your skin can produce it from sunlight, winter days are short, and I'm not out in tanktops in negative degree weather.
I personally take a supplement in the winter, but Vitamin D rich foods include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, cod liver oil, and egg yolks.
3. Eat warm foods - soups, stews, squash!
Eating seasonally helps me eat local foods and a variety of nutrients throughout the year. I practically live on chilis, stews, squash, curries, and any warm, nourishing bowl of food in the winter. I hardly ever want a salad or cold smoothie - totally winter foods for me!
Warm foods are so comforting for me in the winter, and I bet there's plenty of root veggies you've never tried. Pick up a new kind of squash, turnips, rutabagas, or parsnips in the stores, and try them out. When in doubt, roast with olive or coconut oil!
4. Start your day with movement and meditation.
It's easy to feel sluggish in the winter when it may still be dark out when you wake up, so my trick is a little movement and meditation to start my day. Total energy booster! It connects me to my body first thing in the morning and helps me start my day centered and calm, especially when it's easy to get down on the icy cold in the winter.
I do a short 10-15 minute yoga flow (here's a good one to try out) or a walk outside when I want to brave the cold. Then, I make time for a 10 or so minutes of meditation - I've been loving a grounding meditation lately.
5. Rest and reflect.
Allow yourself this time to rest and be introspective. During the summer, I'm social and have plans nearly every weekend, so I love being able to just lounge more in the winter. I read a lot more, watch Netflix (which I rarely do in the summer), journal, and embrace this time.
In the past, I'd let myself get all worked up about not "doing enough," but now, I realize that I can't be in "doing" mode all year long. By cycling between working on awesome projects and resting, I'm much happier and won't burn out. I need (and crave!) time to rest, restore, and reflect too.
Some other winter wellness things I do are
- Dry brushing for my skin and lymphatic system
- Abhyanga self-massage. I was introduced to it by a friend this year and has been amazing for my skin - it's self-massage with oil (I use sesame) before showering. Total self-care for my skin.
- A mix of faster vinyasa yoga with more restorative yin yoga - love both
- Cozy layers of clothing & comfy socks
- Essential oils for my immune system
- Cuddling in bed with a cup of tea!
How do YOU nourish, savor, & love yourself in the winter?
I'd love to hear how you stay well all winter - share in the comments below or on social media using #nourishsavorlove.