Well, it's undeniable isn't it? Winter is here. Days are shorter and the dark nights are cold. We can grumble and complain, or we can nestle in and prepare to stay healthy over the next few winter months.
Right now is a fertile time to rejuvenate and replenish yourself. Slowing down, sleeping more when you can, nourishing yourself with homemade soups and stews, and bringing warm tea with you as you venture out into the world are all great first steps towards staying well.
None of us want to hear this, but it's important to slow down and honor your body's natural rhythms throughout the upcoming months. Like bears in the wild, it's time to hibernate.
Ever wonder why we are so prone to sickness this time of year? Sure it has a lot to do with being inside with windows shut tight against fresh, clean icy air, but it's also because we fall out of balance with our food, drink, and social calendars. Add in the enhanced Ayurvedic Vata irritating wind and cold, and we find our lungs are particularly at risk for infections.
So here are 10 ways to stay physically and emotionally well this winter~plus a bonus tip.
1. Have your heating and air ducts cleaned professionally.
Love that cozy smell of the furnace the first time it kicks on for the year? Me too~until I found out I was smelling dust, mold, mildew and dead insects. (ick factor!) Give your lungs a break and make the investment to have your ducts sucked clean.
2. Increase your water intake.
Sure it's easy to stay hydrated when we're working out and aware of the summer heat, but as winter comes, we forget that our bodies need adequate water to guard against illness and operate at maximum efficiency. Dehydration is to blame for the small cracks inside your nose that allow germs to enter easily, so drink up.
3. Studies have shown that supplementing with Vitamin D is an immune booster.
Natural germ fighting Vitamin D isn't being produced in our bodies if we live in the Northern Hemisphere like it is in the warmer months and our immune systems naturally drop. Try to get some daily sunshine on your body. If you can find a wind blocked area on a sunny winter's day, spend some time with minimal clothing on and enjoy a few minutes of natural sunlight.
4. Eat with the season.
Now is the time to gravitate towards warmer foods, as raw, cold salads have naturally lost their appeal. Make soups, stews, roasted vegetables and warm meals with foods naturally in season. Squash and root vegetables are perfect for this time of year, both rich in antioxidants and lush in color for bored winter eyes. If you're a raw foodist, add warmth by using spices and eating more dehydrated foods.
5. Purify your inside air.
As we've become more energy efficient in our home building, we've created sealed environments and those lost drafts that once helped to purify our inside air are now gone. Invest in an air purifier if you can, and if you can't, open your windows once a day for a few moments to let in some fresh air. If you work from home, consider doing this during the heat of the day when the sun is out and the temperature is at its highest. Another great way to do get fresh air is to throw open your bedroom windows while you make your bed in the morning –all it takes is a few seconds to flood any room with fresh air.
6. Dry brush your skin before you shower.
Skin is the #1 detox organ and since we don't sweat as much throughout the winter months, our bodies could use the extra help. Even if you do sweat regularly, boost your immune system with a good brushing before your morning shower.
7. Change your sheets more often.
Dry skin, furnace cranking and closed windows ~ need I say more? I'll spare you from those magnified photos of what's on your bed sheets.
8. Take a hint from the early darkness and head home.
Try to get your workouts in early or at lunchtime vs. after work. Once the winter night settles in, our primal inner rhythm begs for the warmth of hearth and home. Spend your evenings at home eating warm, home cooked meals, read more, and snuggle in with loved ones while enjoying movies or games.
9. Enter the cave willingly.
Ancestral teachings speak of going into the cave to reflect on the year behind us and recharge for the year ahead. Now is the time to reflect on where you've been over the last 11 months, how you want to end the year and what you want next year to look like. It's the beginning of the internal season. Spring, summer and fall are filled with busyness. Winter is slower. Our society moves so quickly these days, taking advantage of the cold justifies our slowing down and staying home more. Not only will you save money, but you'll deepen your relationships with loved ones when you spend quality time together at home.
Single? Take this quality time for yourself–it will serve to deepen your own well-being allowing you to have more to give when love does arrive. Not sure how to be alone? See How to be alone.
10. Many cultures believe that creativity keeps our energy flowing and provides radiant health.
Dance, sing, paint, cook, write, or rearrange the furniture. Refrain from going comatose in front of the television. Not only does it lower your metabolism (BIG TIME), but it also wastes your creative time~and your life.
*** And my bonus tip?
Make more love. Not only will it increase your circulation (as well as boosting lymphatic and immune systems), it elevates your mood…and if you go to bed early enough, it provides for your evening entertainment.