Dark mornings, shorter days and longer nights. This, accompanied by frigid rain and cloudy skies, describe Vancouver winters pretty well, at least most of the time.
Although it can be a little harder to get out of bed these days, we may experience the “winter blues”, and the energy to get moving may not seem to come as easily, don’t let winter halt your wellness efforts. Instead, embrace the season as a change and an opportunity to go deeper into your wellness practice.
We have the choice to look out the window and proclaim ”it’s an ugly day” and let that zap our zest for the next twenty-four hours, or we can decide that the day is not ugly, and although the weather may be, we are going to do something good for ourselves today, in one way or another.
Here are ten tips to thrive this winter:
Gear up. Invest in rain and snow gear so that getting outdoors regularly is more comfortable. Even a short walk for fresh air, despite the weather, can reap many benefits.
Sleep soundly. Know that your sleep habits may need to be adjusted somewhat in the winter. You may need to go to bed earlier or sleep longer to feel like you’ve got an optimal sleep. If you short yourself, waking up foggy during the winter can be more challenging than sunnier times of the year. Set habits around doing whatever needs to be done for you to have the best sleep possible. This may take discipline on the part of your evening self, but your morning self will thank you!
Stay hydrated. You may not be as prompted to drink water in the colder versus warmer months, but it is equally important. Try keeping your water room temperature or even drinking herbal tea or hot water with lemon. Dehydration can be a cause for low energy, slower digestion and reduced metabolism in general, which can add to feeling low in the winter. Also keep in mind to drink up before physical thirst comes on, as by then dehydration has already set in.
Fuel up. Ensure you are obtaining all the necessary macronutrients from a balanced, whole food nutritional intake. Although we crave comfort foods this time of year, and plant foods may not appeal as much in the colder months, we can still find creative ways to enjoy cooked seasonal plant foods. When fresh vegetables are not readily available, frozen vegetables can still pack a nutritional punch. Ensure you are balancing your whole food intake among vegetables and fruit, complete proteins and hearty grains.
Retreat for self-care. A little nurturing goes a long way to help us feel renewed and rested. Schedule more time for reading or listening to something inspirational, or for meditating. Treat yourself to a trip to the spa, or convert your home bathroom into a spa for an hour. Run an aromatherapy salt bath, soften the lighting and play some relaxing music. If you suffer from seasonal mood fluctuations, perhaps taking a trip to a sunny destination will be your self-care retreat.
Maintain a sacred morning practice. Your waking hours set the tone for your day. Whether you take some time for affirmations, meditation, Yoga or journaling, let at least the first half hour of your day be as positive as possible.
Energy supply meets demand. Which, simply put, means we can’t wait for the motivation to exercise, we must act and the energy will show up. The intensity is not as important as reinforcing an active lifestyle overall.
De-clutter. Whether it’s refining priorities, trimming the never-ending to-do list, or cleaning out our closet, reducing waste of resources and creating space for what’s most important can be the best productivity practice in disguise. As we reduce the overwhelm that comes from excessive belongings and commitments, our mind becomes less cluttered and is free to function at it’s highest creative potential.
Keep your immune system in high gear. Ensure you are including healthy bacteria in your diet, as well as exercising to maintain optimal immune function. Keep herbs and spices like peppermint, turmeric and ginger on hand.
Accept and honor yourself. We are only human. We will all have a day occasionally where we may get a little too comfortable with comfort food, get distracted from exercise, get overwhelmed with our expectations of ourselves, or feel stressed in general. We may not be the perfect picture of wellness every day, but the key is not to let yesterdays shortcomings prevent us from living today as a new day, with new choices.
From my heart to yours, wishing you the best in wellness this winter season.
Stay warm and spread some love.