Winter Survival Guide
Happy 1st Day of June!
Today also symbolises the first day of winter. A lot of people don’t love winter but I personally don’t mind it!
I associate winter with cooler air, morning dew hardening to frost and most vegetation storing energy in it’s roots and our bodies do the same, sitting by the fire, warm soups and stews and watching movies underneath a warm blanket.
Winter from a naturopathic point of view is the time to nourish the body: eating warming foods, wearing warmer clothing and allowing our bodies the rest and recovery it deserves. We spend much of our time running around, pushing ourselves, not getting enough sleep and rest and now is mother nature’s time to remind us to look after ourselves and to hibernate a little.
As many people struggle with winter, I have listed below some survival tips for winter to get you through the cooler months:
1. Eat warming foods.
Now is not the time to be creating smoothies, enjoying ice cream and cold salads. Eating cooling foods is tougher on the body during winter as the body is working hard to keep warm and putting colder foods into our bodies means the body has to work even harder to maintain its temperature.
Eating foods that are warm this time of the year is beneficial for assisting the body to stay warm.
By cooking foods, the chemical bonds between molecules are being broken down which makes digestion of these foods easier within the digestive system. It means the nutrients can be absorbed faster into the bloodstream so energy can be acquired quickly.
So we should try and eat more cooked foods and less raw/cooling foods.
The types of food ideal for winter include: soups, stews, casseroles, slow cooked foods, cooked salads and roasts.
We should also include more warming spices also: turmeric, ginger, garlic, chilli, paprika and cinnamon.
2. Eating seasonal foods.
This continues on from point 1, eating foods in season is important for our health during the winter months. Seasonal eating is what is freshest during this time, what contains the most nutrients and ideally has not been frozen or stored for long periods of time.
Some of the foods freshest in winter include:
These foods suit a slower cooking method which makes them ideal to focus on this time of year. 3. Keeping warm.
Keeping warm is most people’s priority during winter, however we need to do this appropriately. Keeping our extremities warm is key when we go outside: making sure our head is warm, our hands and feet are warm is key as our body send all of it’s worth towards the core. However we also need to be mindful of keeping our bodies warm ourselves and not using excessive artificial heating.
External heating means that our bodies do not have to warm themselves. By all means, heaters are important but not setting our heaters to excessive temperatures as this becomes a shock to our bodies when we do venture outdoors. I like to set our heater to around 19-20 degrees in the evenings throughout winter and using wooden jumpers, blankets, socks and Ugg boots when I’m indoors to keep warm so when I go outdoors my body is not significantly shocked. This also reduces bacteria from thriving in our home increasing the risk of colds and flu. 4. Fresh air Getting fresh air is key during winter. It is an old wives tale that we shouldn’t go outdoors in winter however the fresh air is good for our respiratory system. However when heading outdoors, make sure you are warm enough and wearing appropriate clothing. In addition, I also air our home during the winter months to allow fresh air in the home. Fresh air clears the germs and avoids stagnation. Nowadays the air inside our homes can be more toxic than outdoors due to chemicals used in furniture and other products and what we spray in our homes can lead to a heavy toxic build up so ensuring we air out our homes is important. Germs also thrive in warm environments so airing out your home regularly can reduce germ build up. 5. Exercise even when it’s cold. Exercise is my number one recommendation during winter. Not only is it a great way to warm your body, but it also allows our lymphatic system to push toxins out of our body and support our immune system to thrive. Exercising outdoors is ideal to get fresh air, however exercising indoors is still beneficial. Regular moderate exercise has been shown to be beneficial for immunity and making our immune systems more resilient. Personally, I find it easier to exercise during winter as it’s not as uncomfortable sweating and also there are less social events giving me more time to undertake a regular routine.
6. Slow down. Winter is usually a time to slow down and to look after ourselves a little bit more. We spend more time doing slower activities whilst keeping warm: reading, drinking tea, sitting by the fire and these are the activities we should be focusing more on in the coming months (I know challenging after being home for so many months). I enjoy resting and recovering during winter and allowing my body to recover. 7. Sleep. Sleep is a very important part of the rest process during winter. As adults, majority of us do not get enough sleep or rest!
When the weather is cooler, now is the perfect time to rest and sleep is one of the best ways to support our immune function and to give our bodies an opportunity to recover from our hectic lives.
The rough recommendation for adults is 7-9 hours of sleep (however everyone is individual). Routine is important for sleep and making sure you have regular bedtimes and wake times is key for optimising sleep. In addition, every hour that you sleep before midnight is the equivalent of 2 hours - making sleep even more incredible!
Still struggling with winter? Get in touch with us to support you!