December 13, 2021
Each season has something beautiful to offer, something we can learn from or that inspires us to grow. Winter, however, is often a time when it’s hardest to recognize the many gifts around us. In many parts of the world, we experience less time with the sun, decreased activities in the garden, and land that we’ve formed a deep connection with over the milder months is now buried beneath snow.
Winter can also bring drastic changes to our lifestyle. Movement may decrease while meals become heavier; days when it’s too cold to leave the house can result in decreased overall social stimulation. None of these things are good nor bad, but combined they can make it more difficult to maintain an overall sense of wellness.
But wellness isn’t impossible just because temperatures drop. In preparation for the winter solstice later this month, explore our recommendations for maintaining wellness and joy all season long.
We are big believers in the idea that food is medicine, which means wellness begins in the kitchen. Of course it’s okay, and delicious, to eat rich and fatty foods throughout the winter (and all year long!) — eating what your body wants and craves is important. Most dishes, however, can be easily adapted or improved by incorporating herbs. Fresh herbs may not be readily available in colder months, but we’ve found it helpful to add tonics as a way to add flavor and nourishment to soups and stews, or to use as a base for sauces and salad dressings. Next spring and summer, you might want to consider preparing in advance by freezing your favorite herbs for use in the colder months. We like to blend herbs like nettle and parsley into creative pesto recipes, which last many months in the freezer.
Certain fruits and vegetables will also be out of season, but check to see if your grocery store has a local produce section, or perhaps explore if there are nearby winter farmer’s markets for local and seasonal shopping. If you consume animal products, keep an eye out for bear fat and bone broth, two rich, delicious, and winter-friendly foods that are chock full of nourishment.
Finally, you might consider starting a daily ritual of drinking herbal infusions or teas. Drinking your nutrients might make it simpler to consume them, and even if that’s the only change you make to your winter diet, you’ll likely notice a difference in how you feel.
Decreased energy is not unsurprising in the winter — there’s a reason this is the season of hibernation, and there’s immense value in setting intentional time for relaxation. Try eradicating any guilt you associate with doing “nothing.” Time for dedicated relaxation can be helpful for not only getting through winter, but also for ensuring you have balanced energy levels come spring.
Sometimes relaxing is easier said than done. If you’re finding it difficult to turn off your brain, try incorporating a regular meditation practice into your life. Don’t let what you think you know about meditation hold you back from trying it — meditation can be done from bed or the couch, though you may get joy in creating a dedicated meditation space. Sound baths can also help you sink into a place of restfulness, and they don’t require that you aim for a fully meditative state.
Routine is not only beneficial to our mental health, but it can help us ritualize the practice of relaxing. If your schedule allows it, consider setting, and then sticking to, concrete times to go to sleep and wake up. Working with herbal allies can help your routine feel less rigid and more joyful. Our Goodnight Moon and Lucid Dreams teas are great formulas for helping you get meaningful rest. We’ve had great success brewing a cup in preparation for a meditation session, or incorporating it as part of our bedtime rituals.
On the flip side, too much rest can have an adverse effect. Of course it can be tempting to spend the entire winter buried beneath blankets, but maintaining a practice of movement can help keep your body and mind buoyant and well. If you’re having trouble finding the energy to get yourself going, give our Energy Tonic a try — it might offer just the boost you need.
Winter movement doesn’t — and perhaps shouldn’t — look the same as what you’re doing in the summer months. You might consider something a bit lighter and more fun, like dance or yoga videos you can do from the comfort (and warmth) of your home. For those with limited movement, seated yoga can have the same effect.
If you have a safe area to take short walks outside, this will offer you a dose of vitamin D, which may help in staving off symptoms of depression. Don’t have an easy spot for walking? You might try sitting by a window and letting the afternoon sunshine shower you with vitamin D.
Physical care also expands beyond so much more than movement and exercise. Traditions like saunas provide much-craved warmth, even when outside temperatures are below freezing. Regular sauna use may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular events — and frankly, they just feel good. Neighborhood gyms and wellness centers often offer sauna services, but if there isn’t one available nearby — of if you need to or prefer staying in the comfort of your own home — you might enjoy an at-home facial steam for a similar effect.
Finally, never underestimate the power of being with people. It can be tempting to live a hermit-like lifestyle in winter, but finding balance between rest and socializing is key to enduring the season. If it’s too cold or difficult to meet up with friends, schedule a phone call or video chat. Be honest and open with loved ones about where you’re at, both mentally and emotionally.
For those with romantic or intimate partners, winter is the perfect excuse to snuggle even closer. Together, you may enjoy experimenting with our Chocolate Love EliXXXir, a nourishing way to add a bit of sweetness to any social interaction.
Remember that even in moments when winter feels cold and isolating, human connection can help keep you well, get you through it… and maybe even thrive.
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