Look After Your Wellbeing This Winter
With July just around the corner, we are well into the season of staying indoors and binge-watching Netflix. The urge to hibernate is primal, especially when a case of the winter blues (or blahs) hits. But the colder months need not be a time of feeling sluggish and downbeat; winter should be about rest, rituals and plenty of nourishing food. No country is better at embracing the weather than the Danes, who famously say: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong sort of clothes.” Us Aussies could probably learn a thing or two from them. So with the Danish in mind, here are 8 tips to enhance your wellbeing this winter, as inspired by the “hygge” way of life.
Look after your skin
The concept of changing your skincare with the seasons isn’t new, but many of us neglect to pamper ourselves when getting out of bed becomes exponentially harder in the cold season. That said, it’s worth spending the time to ramp up the amount of moisture you give your skin when every bit of moisture has been zapped from the air.
What’s happening around us will reflect on our faces; dry air attacks your protective lipid barrier, leaving you more prone to itchiness, peeling, wrinkles and roughness, as well as exacerbating any sort of irritation from eczema to acne. To avoid parched skin freaking out, opt for a nourishing face oil under your regular moisturiser. The other thing to keep in mind is the frequency you apply your cream. Drench your skin in moisture whenever you remember: mist a hydrating spray over makeup, keep a hand cream on your desk and make Sunday night moisture masks a ritual.
Get up with the sun
Regularly exposing yourself to sunlight keeps your vitamin D levels topped up, which basically keeps you smiling. Come winter, getting up with the sun is a luxury afforded only to those late-risers! For dark, winter mornings, consider investing in an alarm clock that simulates the morning light. Instead of waking you abruptly with sound, dawn simulators produce light that gradually increases in intensity, much like the sun. The best dawn simulators use full-spectrum light and have been found to be an effective treatment for those suffering with mild SAD.
Bathe in essential oils
When you can’t rely on the sunshine to lift your spirits, self-care becomes a priority. Aromatherapy baths are the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Create an at-home health spa with candles and relaxing music – it doesn’t need to cost the earth!
While your bath is running, brush your skin with a dry body brush to stimulate your circulation and improve the flow of lymphatic fluid and only add your essential oils just before you step into your bath (a large proportion will evaporate soon after hitting the water).
If you suffer from cold feet and hands due to poor circulation, warming essential oils such as black pepper, cardamom, clove bud, ginger, juniper berry, marjoram and rosemary are ideal for warming frosty fingers and toes. You can also add your chosen oil to a carrier oil or lotion and rub over your body morning and night to get your circulation going and ease everyday aches and pains. To fight seasonal germs, citrus oils or eucalyptus oil can be added to a diffuser, burner, or in a bowl of steaming water for inhalation.
Keep your body moving
There are many reasons to keep up your exercise routine during the winter months. If you usually exercise outside, short bouts of sunshine will keep your vitamin D levels up, which is especially important for those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Sunshine not only boosts positivity, but also keeps your immune system strong and can help prevent high blood pressure and diabetes.
Even if your routine is indoors, regular exercise strengthens your immune system so it can fight off bacterial and viral infections, which is – of course – particularly important when winter germs are circulating.
A daily workout offers a break from the daily grind, but if you dread getting down to the gym, winter is the perfect time to start a new routine. Yoga is a great way to stay positive (particularly important when sunlight lacks), not to mention the ideal remedy for stiff joints, muscle tightness and general aches and pains.
Play with fire
...not actually, but when the nights are longer than the days, lighting a fire in your living room is the best way to embrace the darkness. If that’s not possible, nothing says “hygge” better than an array of beautifully smelling candles. Think warm seasonal spices like pine and cinnamon to give you a daily dose of sensory pleasure.
Nourish yourself from the inside out
It’s no secret that we are hungrier in the colder months. But what you might not know is that when we eat more and keep our bodies in continual digesting mode, we lose energy for other necessary functions and for our immune systems, which make us more vulnerable to getting sick.
Instead of loading up on piles of processed rubbish, harness the cold weather to do something good for your body and pick nutrient-dense meals to keep you feeling sated and healthy. If you’re not a salad lover, winter is probably the best excuse to welcome stews, casseroles, meatballs, curries, soups and broths. Say hello to the slow-cooker: provider of warming, nourishing, long-simmered foods that are ready when you get home. Plus, big batches mean you have something delicious to eat for lunch the following day.
Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners also believe that cold weather is the time to avoid cold food and too much raw food, so our instinct to reach for the warmer munch is definitely onto something…
Enjoy a more natural approach to coughs and colds
Unless you have a superhuman immune system, chances are you’re going to suffer from some sort of tickly cough/sore-throat combo this winter. But before you reach for the Codral, try a time-honoured natural remedy for soothing coughs and colds: honey.
For sandpaper-throat mornings, mix honey and lemon with hot water for a soothing drink. Before bed, try a glass of hot milk (or a non-dairy alternative) with added honey. If honey isn’t your think, ginger is a cheap and healthy alternative to sooth an irritating cough. Simply cut a piece of fresh ginger, sprinkle with salty and chew for a few minutes… If we totally lost you at the ginger/salt combination, try simmering small pieces of ginger in a saucepan of boiling water and strain to enjoy a ginger tea.
Re-discover a relaxing hobby
Once upon a time we weren’t too busy with social occasions to sit down and enjoy a good book. This time of year is the perfect excuse to reconnect with your inner kid and discover a long lost love of books, paint boxes, playing cards and board games. Down time spent away from a screen is beneficial for your mental health and for the creative souls out there, reading and painting can prove to be an excellent source of stress relief. That’s not an excuse to stay inside for the next three months, but – believe it or not – there’s more to your living room than just Netflix.
Remember: There’s no such thing as bad weather! Happy winter from WorkScore.