Whether you're a snow bunny or a sun worshiper, we all feel the effects of the cold, heavy, damp, cloudy weather during winter in our bodies and minds. We spend less time outside getting sun on our skin and more time curled up under blankets in hibernation mode. This is completely natural considering the days are shorter and everything in winter slows down, including our bodies. As a particularly cold and dry person myself, I have to take extra care in winter to avoid further aggravation of these qualities and maintain my health. Even if you find that your body responds well to the colder temps outside, everyone can benefit from keeping an eye on these qualities to prevent colds, flu, sore throats, congestion, and other respiratory problems. The key to health in winter is ensuring the body’s lymphatic and circulatory systems are working efficiently. If you’re feeling a little less-than-awesome, try one or some of these winter remedies:
1. Sip hot water every 10-15 mins throughout the day
This is a rehydration technique that dilates, detoxifies and decongests the lymphatic system to keep your drains clean and everything moving along smoothly. In case you need a quick refresher on the lymphatic system – it’s the incredibly important system which drains waste from the blood and every other cell in your body while regulating the immune system. See? Pretty vital!!
2. Drink bone broth
There are sooo many reasons to consume bone broth on the reg. You can find the full post here, but for now, to name a few: restores gut health, fights infections, makes your hair prettier, supports bone health, fights inflammation and improves sleep quality. Amazing…and way cheaper than a cabinet full of supplements.
3. Do Abhyanga, or self-massage
Although I do love the luxury of a proper rub down, unfortunately it’s just not feasible to fork out 100 bones for a massage every week like I’d like to. Next best option is self massage. Among it’s many other benefits, massage tones muscles, improves circulation, flushes out toxins, soothes the nervous system, and stimulates deeper sleep. I will do a full post on this later as well, but all you need is your naked bod and a couple of pumps of, preferably warm, sesame oil to get rubbing!
4. Get in bed earlier
We need more rest in winter than in summer, so try to prioritize a 10pm bedtime.
5. Wear heaps of clothes when exercising
I wasn’t initially sold on this one, primarily because it made me feel like a wrestler, but I have come around and am now definitely a fan. I struggle to sweat in cold temperatures because I usually spend the first 15 minutes of my chosen activity still freezing from getting out of bed and into my gym gear. We need to sweat, for many reasons. It rebalances the fluids in our body, improves circulation, releases toxins out of open pores, improves skin texture, and strengthens immunity. Next time you go out for a run (or whatever you like!), try kitting yourself out with some long underwear, sweatshirts, beanies, etc. Whatever you need to get the job done. You feel a bit awkward at first in your Eskimo suit running past others their cute lululemon tank tops, but you’ll feel awesome (and warm!) afterwards.
6. Having a tablespoon of coconut oil with breakfast
This isn’t for everyone, but it has worked a treat for me over the past month or so. Winter for me means flaky skin on my face, cracking/bleeding fingers, constipation, scaly legs…the list goes on. It’s particularly important for me to ensure I am getting enough good fats in my diet to keep everything lubed up! For breakfast in the morning, no matter what I am having, I add a blob of coconut oil on top. Not only does this make the meal much yummier, but it also makes a world of difference for my skin and poos!
7. Do yoga poses that open the chest
Sun salutations and poses like fish, camel, and inversions are great for removing congestion in the respiratory system.
8. Incorporate a daily breathing exercise
I believe it’s incredibly important to have a daily (preferably twice daily) breathing practice all year round. In winter, you can do heating pranayama exercises, such as Breath of Fire or alternate nostril breathing, both of which are great for circulation, clearing blockages, and warming you up.
9. Eat a warm nourishing breakfast
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, so I am partial to having a massive delicious feast in the morning. In winter, our appetite is usually increased so it’s OK to eat a bit more than you would normally. I have provided a recipe for a nourishing, substantial and yummy breakfast below. Gluten free grains (amaranth, millet, quinoa, buckwheat) are all very filling making them awesome breakfast options.
10. Drink tea with ginger, cinnamon and cloves
These are all warming herbs which improve circulation and help eliminate mucus congestion.
11. Eat with the season
Nature gives us all these beautiful root veggies for a reason, so eat them! I particularly love roasting and using to make hearty soups and stews like this one. Read more about eating seasonally here.
12. Apply warm sesame oil on your feet before bed
This is soothing for the nervous system and pacifies cold and dry qualities.
13. Have a shot
Buttery nipple? Nice try. Instead, combine ginger juice, lemon juice, raw honey and a drop of oregano oil in a shot glass and gulp it down. It’s like giving yourself a flu shot, but better.
Quinoa Breakfast Bake
Coconut oil for greasing
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups frozen berries
1 cup of any fruit cut into bite sized pieces (apricots, apple, pears, cherries)
3/4 cup chopped nuts and seeds
2 cups milk substitute (almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk)
1 cup mashed banana
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Grease baking dish with coconut oil and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine quinoa and cinnamon and spread evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Put frozen berries, fruit and nuts/seeds on top of the quinoa. Add milk and mashed banana and vanilla. Stir gently. Bake for about an hour. To serve, add a tbsp of coconut oil!