Tea winter

Five key elements for self care in winter

Originally posted at pranahouse.com.au/blog/, I take you through some easy steps to ensure you are at your best this winter.

As the weather becomes colder our nutritional requirements, energy and mood may naturally change with the season. If you dread the winter months, the following tips may help you adapt and embrace the opportunities.

1. Eat Seasonally
As the weather changes, just like our ancestors did, we alter change the way we eat. This not only reflects our bodies nutrient and energy requirements, but seasonal eating is also better for the environment as we can eat local produce. At this time of year this means consuming warming, grounding foods that fill us up and prevent cravings. Rather than going for refined carbs such as bread for comfort, swap light cold foods for grounding warm options such as roast root vegetables and warming herbs and spices. Don’t want to give up your daily green juices? Warm up your fresh summer drinks with ginger- this is an excellent winter remedy that improves circulation and can assist digestion.

2. Boost your mood
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression associated with winter. While this can be a serious issue for some, it is not uncommon to feel a little blue when the days are grey. This can impact not only our mood, but our energy, social lives and nutritional choices.

Luckily there are many natural remedies available that help address low mood in winter. You should always seek professional help if you have clinical depression, however if your mood and energy simply need a boost you have a lot of options.

There are many herbals that can be professionally prescribed and it is always a great choice to include a good quality B-multi. This can address mood, improve digestion and support your liver.

3. Keep Moving
If your exercise levels seem to drop off a bit in winter and you feel sluggish and uninspired, you are not alone. But cold weather is no excuse! It just means it’s time to change your routine around. If you enjoy outdoor exercise this may be little more challenging, but it can be helpful to try new options, and listen to what your body needs. This may be more gentle exercise and less intense cardio. In case you’re concerned, studies have shown regular, gentle exercise such as yoga, walking and pilates have benefits for weight loss or control, and for cardiovascular health, not to mention the amazing effect on mood and stress levels!

You may also try exercising at a different time, in accordance with your energy levels and the shorter days. See if you can find a friend to make you accountable despite the weather (and have an undercover/ indoor backup). My dog never minds if it is cold or rainy, so that leaves no excuse- rug up, grab or borrow a furry friend, and get out there and forget about the cold!

4. Keep hydrated and improve your circulation
In the cooler months it is natural not to feel as thirsty, but it is still essential to keep hydrated. If cold water isn’t appealing, now is the perfect time to introduce herbal teas, which can not only taste delicious but also provide medicinal benefits. Be sure to use the loose leaves not just teabags, unless you are just aiming for flavour. Herbal teas need to be strong to have a therapeutic action. You can boost circulation to cold hands with rosemary, which has a pleasant side effect of improving cognition, or circulation to your digestive system with ginger, which combines well with lemon as a gentle morning detox or immune support.

5. Boost your immunity!
There are a number of natural supplements you can use to treat colds and flu, but just like any aspect of health- prevention is always better than cure. In the winter months ensure you are eating protein with every meal as this plays a role in immunity. If you don’t get much sunlight, ask your doctor about vitamin D testing, as supplementation may be required to boost immunity.

If you do feel a fever coming on, be aware that this is your body’s natural way of fighting pathogens. So instead of suppressing this, you might like to support your fever with the old naturopathic favourite, YEP tea. This herbal blend of yarrow, elder and peppermint, plus rest and home-made soup is a great path to recovery.