How have you been coping throughout our COVID Autumn? I was doing pretty well but must admit the effects of the rather sudden cool shift in weather here in Northern NSW have certainly made an impact! It was a good reminder that if you haven’t already been looking after your immune system and general wellbeing, now is a great time to gently ramp up your efforts as we get ready for Winter.
Remembering the principle of ‘like increases like’, we want to encourage warmth and nourishment during the colder months to offset the effects of the colder environment to enable us to stay in balance. Let’s be proactive about the transition into Winter; here are some of the lovely things we can start preparing for our Winter routine….
A Nourishing Winter Diet
Start thinking of a Winter diet that is characterised by warm, cooked, slightly oily, nourishing wholefoods to really satisfy that Winter hunger. Think porridges, soups, slow-cooked meals, curries, root vegetables, ghee and light grains (e.g. rice, quinoa, millet and buckwheat).
Cook your foods with immune-enhancing spices including coriander, fennel, cumin, turmeric, ginger and black pepper (these enhance digestion and reduce toxins), so get hold of some whole spices now.
Stock up on soup ingredients and start making some soups that you can freeze now so they are ready and waiting for you on those time-poor evenings. Embrace warm, cooked porridges for Winter breakfasts. They are quick, satisfying, nourishing and delicious. Try being creative and mix it up: think about adding some cardamom or cinnamon and maple syrup, and vary it up by using oats or polenta or semolina – delicious!
Remember: No cold foods. As ‘like increases like’ we want to fuel ourselves during Winter with warming foods to preserve the body’s optimal metabolic state, so try to avoid things like icy drinks, cold salads, icecream etc.
Tea Lovers Unite!! Now is the perfect time to embrace your tea habit! In anticipation of sipping on hot herbal infusions throughout the day, start stocking up now and try something new. There are many wonderful delicious herbal teas that support immune health, promote good strong digestion, assist with stress and promote sound sleep. Beautiful Winter-warmers include: Tulsi Turmeric Ginger and Tulsi Masala Chai.
A Warm Workspace
Are you now working from home more often? Perhaps set yourself up with a heater nearby, cozy socks, slippers, lap blanket and favourite scarf… and don’t forget your tea cup! If you haven’t already, get yourself a lovely screw top tea bottle or cup so that you won’t have to worry about spills over your computer.
Don’t get cold and stiff, plan to set a regular timer on your phone to remind you to get up from your desk for some stretching and movement. And of course, get your Winter woolies in the wash now so you have some fresh, cozy jumpers ready to go.
Glowing Winter Skin
Our skin is our first line of defense from outside invaders, so it is important to take good care of it. Recent studies show that dry or damaged skin can create imbalances in the body and mind, thus affecting your health.
Our skin has its own microbiome containing species that help protect us. These species have been shown to benefit from the practice of self-massage with warmed black sesame oil. Beneath the skin is skin-associated lympthatic tissue, which is an immune layer that offers immune protection to the skin (Dr Douillard). You can even use an exfoliator with your oil to take the experience to the next level.
Massage is also important for stimulating digestion, removing toxins and calming our nervous system – very strengthening for our immune system. Allow enough time to follow this up with a warm shower, but even better, a bath.
When it comes to skin care products, try natural, oil-based facial products, especially for the cooler climate when your skin can be even drier. Using oil on my face has been a real game changer for my skin.
Warm baths are one of life’s great experiences as far as I’m concerned! They warm the whole body, open the pores and instantly induce a sense of full body relaxation. So ,get some candles and essential oils ready, e.g. for stress relief, immune support and antioxidants you could try Tulsi Essential Oil.
Create a Cozy Bed
Adequate sleep is so important when it comes to our ability to function but also, to enhance your immunity. Get those flannelette sheets and doonas freshly washed and ready. You might also want to try a herbal tea an hour before bed to help you unwind and prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
What Does Your Winter Exercise Look Like?
Another great way to reduce the Winter qualities of cold, heavy and slow is to move! Don’t reach for another coffee, create some warmth, lightness, movement and groundedness by doing regular exercise… nothing too crazy, just regular movement till you raise a sweat. Yoga, Pilates and walking in nature are my favourites. If you still can’t undertake your regular exercise due to COVID restrictions, make a new plan for Winter now.
If you’ve been one of the lucky (?) ones who has had some extra time in your day lately, don’t just fill it up with chores, do something nurturing or enjoyable for yourself. To keep ourselves strong, sane, less stressed and balanced, we need to take our resting time seriously, so schedule it in. Respect your rest time as medicinal; take the time to rest regularly.
I’m getting ready to embrace Winter with plenty of hot whole-foods, a plethora of tea, shining skin, a cozy house and some candle-lit tub time! Who’s with me?
About the Author: Sarah Holloway is an ORGANIC INDIA team member with a keen interest in Ayurveda and a background in environmental resource management. She is a proud Aunty and lives near Byron Bay with her husband and beloved pooch.