Winter has arrived! And I have to confess, I am a little excited that this wonderful season has arrived. Time to light the fire, rug up and cosy down. Spring, Summer and Autumn are high energy seasons that find us living a fast-paced lifestyle. Life isn’t a race, however, we tend to set a pace and live our life as if it is. Continually on the go doing, doing, doing. Winter is a season to be most grateful for, as it beckons us to step off the treadmill and gives us permission to change the pace of our day, take some restorative time and enjoy some relaxation time.
As the days get shorter in daylight and the cold settles in, our general health and mental health can be at its most vulnerable.
We need to prepare ourselves and consider ways to keep ourselves healthy. We need to be mindful that our health may be held hostage by people in the work-place spaces, travelling on public transport, lined up at the check outs, sitting next to us in a café (if allowed) as they share sneezing, coughing, colds and flus AND COVD-19. How do we take cover and protect ourselves against this invasion of germs?
Our mental health may also be more at risk in winter, due to the lower levels of sunlight and the need to stay indoors more often, which may cause feelings and symptoms of sadness and depression. This is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and can have a chronic impact for some people. When our mental health is compromised, we may experience a higher level of stress and anxiety which then affects our general health and our immune system.
So, to maintain good physical and mental health during the winter, it is important to take a holistic approach to wellness. An approach that includes a healthy diet, physical exercise, self-care, social support and a balanced work life.
Here are a few ideas to keep you on top of your health game this winter:
- Build your immune system – consult with a naturopath or buy high quality organic herbal teas like lemon and chamomile to ease depression and anxiety, green teas to boost your antioxidant level, take vitamin supplements to increase your vitamin C and D intake. Have a flu injection (if that resonates as a health choice).
- Wash your hands frequently every day – this will protect you and others from the risk of spreading those nasties that cause illness.
- Boost your Vitamin D naturally when the sun appears – take a stroll or sit outside to absorb the wonderful warmth and Vitamin D boost.
- Self-care by having a spa or sauna (if restrictions allow), or a relaxing hot bath at home with epsom salts and essential oils – release muscle tension and stress from your body using one or more of these therapies. Your body will also enjoy a detoxification.
- Stress management – book an online session of some kind that will re-balance your energy centres and release stress and overwhelm. You could also list your stressors and determine if there is any action you could take to move forward, or if there are items you could delegate, or drop.
- Exercise – outside (if mindful of physical distancing & safe hygiene)… walking, running, bike riding, or if you would prefer to stay inside … then head online to find a workout such as pilates or yoga … all help to keep a healthy winter fitness level and oxygen flowing through the bloodstream to keep your defence system strong and brain on top of its game.
- Meditation and relaxation techniques – deep belly breathing and stillness are so powerful in maintaining your presence in the moment. Health benefits are many when you commit to a regular practice.
- Test your master chef skills and cook up a storm of healthy meals – an increase of time spent indoors can lead to an increase in snacking on unhealthy foods, so make eating a mindful activity and find new tasty snacks and meals of tasty stews, soups and lots of veg, fruit, fish, protein etc.
- Watch your self-talk – that negative little voice that allows pessimistic thoughts to creep in, can make winter feel like it is full of doom and gloom. Regularly check in with yourself to stay self-aware and prompt yourself to change your thought patterns. If you already know what your negative voice tells you, take a little time to think of uplifting, positive thoughts that you can use when that negative pops in. Write them down and be prepared and you will see the world more positively.
- Be social – staying in touch with friends and having contact with people is important to keep you in your happy zone and this is still possible without seeing them in person. Regular catch ups with friends via the phone or online, walking/playing with the dog, listening to your favourite music or podcasts, tanking an online class, or joining a group of interest with like-minded people, are just a few of many ways to stay connected.
- Get creative – why not take some time during winter to pursue a passion that has been laying dormant in your ‘to do one day’ box. A new project ticks lots of boxes for achievement, enjoyment, satisfaction and fun.
- Plan some down time at work – If you are one of those people who works non-stop to get as much done as possible, says ‘yes’ to everyone and takes on more than what you can do and carries a lot of stress at work … then you need some strategies to bring balance into your work day. There is a lot of evidence that shows we are much more productive after taking some time out from the hard slog, and this is particularly important if you are currently working from home! Make sure you are still connecting meaningfully with colleagues, and take regular breaks. Walk away from your work zone – stretch, eat, drink, get some fresh air and most importantly take a few long deep belly breaths. Your mind and body will thank you for the break and your reward – you will be more focused and achieve so much more in your day.
- Smile – this one simple gesture can have a big impact on your mood and energy level and on others around you. Use your beautiful smile and make a big difference to your world.
- And remember to ‘take it slow’ – cosy up on the couch with a snuggle up blanket and catch up on some sleep from time to time and take good care of yourself and those around you.
Mmmm! Lots of ideas to try … and for me, there will be more books read cosy up by the fire, a jigsaw in the making on the table, lots of knitting, little pieces of fabric will appear for my patchwork, time for self-reflection and my inner journey and that big challenge, work-life balance.
So, what are you going to give yourself permission to do to keep a healthy mind and body this winter?
Stay warm, happy and healthy.
Marg Bruechert specializes in mind-body therapies and offers Holistic counselling, Personal Development programs, Reiki energy healing, Bach Flower Homeopathic remedies, Archetype – Life purpose program, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Time-Line Therapy, Thought Field Therapy (Tapping) and End-of-Life Doula & Grief support services. You can connect with her via email firstname.lastname@example.org