After all the growth of Spring and the heat of Summer, we’ve arrived in the darker half of the year. Beginning with the bright leaves of Fall and continuing through the frosty mornings of Winter, the air is growing colder and the nights are drawing in. As we spend more time inside for warmth and comfort, it’s also a time to turn our attention inward toward ourselves and our bodies. It’s easy to overextend ourselves in the excitement of the warmer months and now it’s time to restore. It’s time to slow down, tuck in, rest and dream.
Everyone knows we’re more vulnerable to colds and flu this time of year. We also tend to be more burdened with stress. Our immunity, our respiratory system and our adrenals all need extra support. Many of us don’t really pay attention to our health until we’re sick, and it’s definitely easy to let concerns about wellness slide during all the activity of Summer. But as we head into cold & flu season, consider what you can do to build your body’s resiliency. Incorporating self-care rituals can do a lot to keep you healthy and, if you do get sick, help you bounce back faster. That's where our Wellness Kit comes in- it's a collection of our favorite, time-honored remedies to both strengthen our bodies and help recover from sickness, if we do catch one. They can be taken routinely as preventative care or more often in cases of acute illness.
It's also wise to look at some other seasonal considerations. Lifestyle is crucial to wellness, though it's important to not judge ourselves too harshly on what we're doing wrong or right. Focus instead on some approachable changes to make this time of year:
Eat + Drink + Dress Warmly. With colder weather outside, it’s a good idea to shift towards eating and drinking mostly warm, well-cooked things. Likewise, be sure to wrap up in sweaters, scarves, hats and warm socks and footwear. Keeping your neck and top of your head warm is especially important in warding off illness. It’s also time to keep the body’s core warm, so begin to think about your eating habits and cooking methods. Start roasting, stewing, braising & baking. Use a slow cooker to make nourishing soups from beans and grains. Slow-roast root vegetables with rosemary, black pepper and garlic. Add warming spices such as ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, and turmeric. These spices will help increase your circulation in the months where some of us have decreased our physical activities.
In terms of hot drinks, fresh ginger tea can do a lot to keep you warm and well. You can keep it pretty simple- just slice up a 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, add it to a pot with a few cups of water and simmer on the stove for 15 minutes. Strain, and maybe add honey and lemon. Sip throughout the day.
Take time for meditation and contemplation. Ideally, Fall and Winter are times to go inward and cultivate stillness. Of course, it doesn’t often work out that way, with school and holidays taking a lot of our energy. But it’s during these stressful times that we need stillness the most to keep us centered. It can do a lot to help soothe stress if you find a way to take just 10-15 minutes each day and clear your mind. Remember that there’s no ‘right’ way to meditate! It can be as easy as lighting a candle and focusing on your breath, with one hand placed on the belly. Maybe try imagining the dark, inky night sky.
You can also try listening to a guided recording. This basic ten-minute meditation with Tara Brach is a good place to start. Or try Sylvia Boorstein's guided metta meditation, also known as a loving kindness meditation. It's like a gentle stretch for the compassionate heart. (Don't worry about watching the video- turn away from the screen and listen along.)
Keep It Simple. During these seasons, and especially around holidays, our culture tends towards excess. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of celebrations and the desire for them to be full-blown and perfect. But we often end up feeling hungover, in more ways than one. There’s a slow, quiet beauty to these colder months. Is there a way you can reflect that in your daily life? Paring down- saying ‘no’ to that extra engagement, simplifying holiday traditions, getting rid of clutter- can be an act of self-care.
If you need more encouragement to slow down and embrace the darker seasons, look no further than this beautiful piece by Jeanette Winterson.
Nurture Community. During these colder months we have less daylight and spend more hours in the dark of night or under grey skies. While it is a more inward time, it’s important to stay connected (with nature, with ourselves and loved ones) or we can sometimes feel blue and lonely, especially around the holidays. Make friend dates, plan a dinner with people you love, have a cup of tea on the porch bundled in a blanket, find a good book series to read, gear up and take a hike through the forest…you get the picture. Involve yourself. And again, don't let this intention turn into reason to stress. You might be too busy to take a day hike or host dinner- don't let yourself feel guilty about that. Maybe instead focus your energy on a 15 minute walk to the park, or calling a friend who you know always makes you laugh. Taking really small steps is usually the most effective way to create wellness rituals in your life!