The first day of winter, Melbournites woke to a cloudless sky with frost on the ground, steam exuding from our mouths as we released each breath, and the yearning to return to our warm toasty beds. Even with gloves on that morning, my fingers were cold and red while out in the early morning frost.
Our bodies are highly intelligent machines, they guide us to doing the things that is needed to protect us, whether this be in the form of craving nourishing foods or through its own functions such as shivering to keep it warm.
I personally love the Chinese Medicine philosophy that by living with the seasons you stay healthier and prevent disease. Chinese Medicine has been around for thousands of years in a time when people were in tune with the seasons and lived according to what was available in their local environment. They rose with the sun, ate what was available to them and were heavily guided by the environment directly surrounding them.
Winter is a time for rest, it is dark and cold, energy slows down. It is a time for reflection, to feed our bodies and souls.
The most important thing is to listen to your body. We all respond differently to things and the seasons are no different, some of us thrive in summer and go to ground in winter. Pay attention to your body's needs and treat it accordingly.
1. Rug Up!
I do not run for the snow jackets at the first sign of a breeze but I get do get cold looking at someone wearing thongs (flip flops) in winter! Our skin needs to be covered, it's not healthy to have our bodies exposed to the raw cold winds of winter! We've all heard the expression "getting cold feet" right? Having cold hands and feet often mean an imbalance in the body, so we need to cover these extremities up and protect them as much as possible. Cold enters the body through the feet and wind enters the body through the neck in Chinese Medicine, so cover these areas well to help maintain good health through winter.
2. Eat Nourishing Foods
After the lightness of summer foods, our bodies need warm and nourishing foods for winter. Look to what is in season...root vegetables, pears, apples, winter greens, mushrooms. These foods will nourish you the most. Cook slowly, for long periods, hearty meals that will nourish the body and comfort the soul.
Move away from raw and cold foods such as smoothies and salads. Enjoy instead roasted vegetables, soups and winter greens. I have some lovely warm and nourishing recipes on the Journal - my favourite winter meal is my Smoky Baked Beans. Or for breakfast try a warm smoothie or a warm chia pudding. Both of the breakfast recipes work beautifully and kept me sustained through last winter!
Freya's Nourishment Warm Chia Pudding - Photo credit Naomi Sherman
3. Rest and Hibernate
Nature is such a wonderful, intelligent thing. Look around you now and you will see nature is instinctively withdrawing. Animals are hibernating, leaves are falling, there's less growth in the garden, our nails and hair are also slowing in their growth. If you think about it, the winter days are shorter which points us toward needing more rest and sleep. When we sleep our body repairs itself and our immune system regenerates and with all the extra colds, flus and viruses floating around in Winter, it is more important that ever to make sure you get enough sleep. Build extra time into your day for rest and relaxation, and make sleep top of your list of priorities.
4. Look After Your Skin
The cold, dry air and constant heating in our homes and places of work creates havoc on our skin, colder air doesn’t have as much humidity and will leave your skin dryer than usual. Each morning before I head out for exercise I slather on the Rejuvenating Facial Oil to protect my skin from the elements.
With all the germs floating around we tend to wash our hands more in winter also. After washing your hands, the best way to trap the moisture onto your skin is with our Rose Hand Scrub.
Sally from Balanced Beauty has her favourite tips! "Try not to neglect your skin!! In Winter, we can get a little slack with our beauty skin routine. Especially at night when it’s so cold and all you want to do is pop yourself in your beautiful, warm, cozy bed. Though I highly recommend not to skip on skincare routines. Cleansing, serums, oils, moisturising and regular exfoliation is a must!!" And Sally loves our Rejuvenating Facial Oil so much, not only does she stock it in her salon, it is also part of her facials.
Our skin changes seasonally, and Sally advises "Facial treatments are also so important. Not only for the correct skin consultation, product recommendations for Winter skin, but for you to receive the ultimate hydration, nourishment, anti ageing properties and results that the skin needs. And personally there’s nothing better then being cocooned in a warm heated bed and receiving some skin love! How nice is it when you you take the time out for yourself, your mind, body and soul!"
I know, I know. It's harder to get out of bed in the cold, and on wet mornings the last thing you feel like doing is going for a run or doing a class. But exercise does help! Firstly, moving your body and raising your temperature helps to flush toxins and bacteria from your system, which in turn can help keep bugs at bay. Make sure to take extra time than you normally would to warm up in order to avoid injuries and stress on your heart and dress warmly. Secondly, exercise releases endorphins, those feel good hormones, and in winter these are especially needed to help keep the blues at bay. And if you can brave the cold and get outdoors, you'll be getting some all important Vitamin D!