Winter is here folks, and how are we all feeling about it?
Now that I’m starting to live more intentionally and flowing with the seasons rather than fighting them, I’ve started to see Winter in a whole new light. Despite the harsh, cold weather that accompanies it, I feel like it is such an important season for healing. Seems a bit odd to say, but it’s not just the “flu season” that most people paint it to be.
Winter is a time when everything in nature slows right down, some plants and animals even hibernating for those few months. And while we unfortunately can’t hibernate too, we can replicate the slowing down and the restoration process.
As the temperature decreases, the need to nourish yourself increases and the need to rest and repair increases as well. Honouring this process will allow you to really restore yourself emotionally and physically, and get you ready for Spring – the season of birth and new beginnings.
But how do we adjust? If you’re like me, you’ll likely be very busy and used to a go-go-go kind of lifestyle. So the idea of slowing down to you might seem either impossible or at the very least – difficult. I used to get anxious at the thought of slowing down for just a day or two, but my health always reminded me that it was more important to listen to my body than my ego. We can only go and go and go before there is a point where we simply can’t anymore. This is where sickness, hormonal imbalances, adrenal fatigue and other health issues arise.
So let’s slow down and look after ourselves this Winter. I have created this little guide on some simple and easy things you can do to adjust and really, truly look after yourself this season!
1/ TRADE IN SOME OF YOUR HIGH INTENSITY WORKOUTS FOR SLOW PACED ONES
You don’t have to give up all your high intensity workouts, but why not trade in a couple each week for some slower and more grounding things like Yin yoga, walking or meditation? These activities are good for clearing your mind, helping you to shift through emotional problems you might need help with. Use this season to work a little less on your body, and a little more on your mind and soul.
2/ TRADE IN RAW FOODS FOR SLOW COOKED MEALS
In the cooler months, you might find yourself naturally craving warmer, heartier meals. Go with it. Honestly, it’s ok to not eat salads year round. Trust in your natural instincts and enjoy those warm comfort foods! Start by slowly eating less raw salads and incorporating more slow-cooked meals, stews and soups. Because they’ve been cooked down, they are actually a lot easier on the digestive system than raw foods as your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break them down.
It’s also a great way to include loads of produce that’s in season right now, like root veggies, which are incidentally great in these types of dishes. Eating seasonally also means you get to enjoy the produce at it’s peak as well, so you’re getting the most out of it in both taste and nutrition.
You don’t always have to have heavy pastas and breads with these dishes as well (though they are delicious that way), you can also have sides of lightly steamed veggies, cauli-rice or wilted/poached greens like spinach, silver beet and kale. Put good quality ingredients in your meals, and rotate your sides to get a good mix of grains and veggies, and beat that stereotype that comfort food is always heavy and unhealthy!
3/ WARM UP FROM THE INSIDE WITH SOME SPICES
Adding things like ginger, turmeric, chilli, onion and garlic not only add delicious flavour and warmth to your meals, they also provide so many great properties to look after you in this “flu season.” Ginger, turmeric, garlic and even onion have antibacterial and antiviral properties to help support your immune system and adding chilli will help to get your body nice and warm from the inside out by increasing your metabolism. Add them to all your soups and stews!
4/ TRADE IN SOME NIGHTS OUT FOR NIGHTS IN
Pass up the after work drinks or boozy nights out every now and then and spend it resting instead. Show your liver some love, and let it rest more often this season. It works hard to rid our body of toxins and giving it a break will do your body wonders. Your nights in don’t have to be boring either. Buy yourself some delicious food, put on a face mask, watch some chick flicks and just really take this time to indulge in some “self care time.” Rest, repair and allow yourself to just have a break from everything. Your liver and wallet will thank you, I promise.
5/ HYDRATE HYDRATE HYDRATE
Don’t forget about your water in the Winter, maintaining your hydration will help flush toxins from the body and also keep your skin from drying out from the cold weather. If you tend to forget, keep a reminder on your phone or computer to have a drink every hour so you keep up your intake!
And since we were just on the topic of liver, I just wanted to remind you that caffeine is another thing that impacts your liver and in Winter it is one of those things that’s so easy to drink too much of. It’s warm, it’s comforting and it’s tasty. I’m a coffee lover, so I totally get it. But having too much is dehydrating, burdens your liver and can impact your emotional and physical well-being. Cutting down will take some getting used to if you’re having multiple a day, but it will be much better in the long run. Be honest with yourself and notice how it makes you feel. Jittery? Anxious? Are your mood/energy levels erratic? Are your hormones all over the place? Are you tired constantly despite the caffeine? Then your liver might really need some love, and if you’re going to reduce your alcohol intake, why not try for the coffee too? You would benefit greatly from reducing your intake to just 1-2 a day (for some 2 might even be too much already) and having yourself some herbal, non-caffeinated teas or water throughout the day instead.
Your energy and moods will eventually stabilise because you’re not constantly crashing and re-energising with more caffeine, your hormones and adrenals will be happier, and your liver will have less of a toxin load to process each day. This the perfect time of the year to really restore and repair, so make the most of it!
Will you be giving any of these a go this Winter? I know I’ll definitely be working on all of these myself, plus a little more because I know my body needs the nourishment. You can follow along on my Instagram @onedishaway to see what I get up to this season to nourish myself, and feel free to tag me if you’ll be doing the same so I can see what you’re up to!