5 Top Tips to Beat the Winter Blues…
and Stay Healthy Too!
Spending most of my life in southern-to-mid California, winter has been a whole new experience for me. It’s been three years of experimentation but by now I have the art of maintaining my sanity during the cold and dark time of year down to a science.
Below I have compiled 5 top tips to help you not only beat the winter blues, but stay healthy too!
Because I have so much to say on this topic, I have broken this post into two parts- each with it’s own generalized recommendation, and then 5 more specific tips to help you practically integrate them.
Recommendation #1: Prevent ‘chronic cold.’
Have you ever felt so cold for so long, that it felt nearly impossible to warm up for a significant amount of time after?
I call this ‘chronic cold,” and it is detrimental to our mental and physical health.
When we let cold into our system for an extended period of time, our body is actually having to work overtime to try and increase it’s internal temperature. This is extremely taxing to the bodies energy supplies and decreases our immunity.
Prolonged cold can create a sub-functioning of the body, meaning our basic bodily processes become sluggish and weak (think slow metabolism or insufficient thyroid function).
Furthermore, cold constricts the movement of fluid throughout the body– such as the blood flow- whereas heat promotes it’s even distribution. (You can imagine warm running water versus water that has been placed into the freezer in order to visualize this concept.) Optimal blood flow increases health and vitality, as well as prevents and relieves pain.
By being mindful to work with keeping out chronic cold from the start, you will have a noticeably easier time throughout the winter- mentally, emotionally and physically.
Tip 1: keep those toes and feet covered
Most people do not know that the feet are an especially important area of the body to keep warm for a number of reasons. In Chinese Medicine (specifically acupuncture and acu-pressure) there is a very important point on the bottom of the feet know as ‘bubbling spring’ that energizes the body. Cold feet can create a feeling of sluggishness. The contact of feet onto cold floors can actually promote body pain.
The feet are ideally suited to help us keep a more even body temperature, Largely because of the amount of specialized blood vessels in the feet which help large volumes of blood pass through. Also because of their location at the end of the limbs which means that they cool down quickly. So for heaven’s sake- keep those feet covered and cozy!
Tip 2: Submerge
This tip is hands-down my favorite. If you have ever had a HOT bath after going out on a snow day then you know exactly what I am talking about. Submerging in a warm tub of water not only feels great, but also increases blood circulation and promotes health.
I like to turn on all the lights in the bathroom, make the water almost uncomfortably hot, and then close my eyes and dream of palm trees!
Adding soothing essential oils to the bath water such as lavender, rose, chamomile, orange and bergamot will bring an uplifting scent to your soak and help to uplift your mood.
Tip 3: warm cooked foods are our friends
There is a reason that foods that are eaten raw typically do not grow in the wintertime. When you think of lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, you think of summer. That is the time when these foods grow.
An example of winter produce is root vegetables which are typically prepared warm and roasted. Try to Incorporate warming spices into your cooking such as pepper, garlic, onions, and cayenne. As tempting as that salad may be, preserve your inner warmth by choosing the warm, cooked dish instead.
Tip 4: Use the indoors as an opportunity to warm up
Baby its cold outside! Louis Armstrong sure had that right.
The indoors are an opportunity to escape the elements and give the body a reprieve. Take all possible preparations in keeping a warm inner environment. If there are issues preventing you from keeping the home and/or office warm then ensure that you are dressing in extra layers, using hand warmers, or doing whatever you can to prevent that low-grade constant cold.
Tip 5: It’s all about the ginger
Ginger is a powerful, safe, and delicious herb used for warming the internal body environment. It is effective for colds with aches and runny nose as well as abdominal distress such as vomiting and diarrhea because of it’s soothing and warming abilities.
Drinking a tea made of fresh or powdered ginger is an excellent way to keep your bodies warmth up, as well as prevent colds. It is particularly good if you are feeling cold and worn down. A few cups of ginger tea and some rest will do you a world of good!
I always keep powdered ginger in my cupboard just in case. You can easily pick some up at your local market in the culinary herb area. Mix about 1/2 tsp into a mug of warm water and you are good to go. Other options are cooking a fresh tea (ratio of ginger root to water determined by your taste preference), or cooking ginger slices into your meals.
For more winter wellness tips, stay posted for Part 2, coming soon!