Q2: Ask a Holistic Health Coach-“How do I Take Care of My Health During the Winter Months?”
As a holistic health coach, I strongly believe that our health is not solely a state that occurs in our internal world. Our health is also influenced largely by our environment–from the food we eat and the toxins and chemicals we’re exposed to each day to the books, media, and people we surround ourselves with. This is why health is a journey, not a destination, which requires us to evolve and adapt as we go. Weather, especially when it’s cold and wet, is no exception.
For optimal health, it’s important to keep our bodies and mind in balance and harmony with our outside environment so that we are more resistant to stress, burn out, and ultimately, disease.
Here are 5 tips for supporting your body and mind this winter:
- Eat to warm your body and fire up your digestion. Start your morning with a warm cup of water or ginger tea to activate your gut and get your metabolism going. You can also add warm spices like cinnamon, chili powder, paprika, cumin and similar spices to your meals as well. Avoid cold or raw foods during winter and opt instead for warming soups and grains like bone broth and gluten-free oats with cooked apples and cinnamon. Not only will doing so aid your gut health, but it will also allow your body to better ward of common colds and illnesses.
- Keep some kind of routine to anchor yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to schedule your day by the hour or complete your entire task-list each day. Instead, make an effort to have some kind of predictability to your days to provide a sense of purpose throughout the cold months which is often when people are most prone to melancholy and loneliness. Before you go to bed, jot down three main priorities or things to look forward to the following day and move with slow, yet focused intention.
- Continue regular activity that gets your heart rate up whether it’s a jog or gentle yoga. While the easier thing to do in response to the cold is to snuggle back under the covers, regular exercise is important for establishing a routine during the longest nights of the year, which will in turn help keep you grounded and focused. When our bodies feel lethargic and slow, our minds will follow suit.
- Stick to a regular bedtime. With the sun setting much earlier during winter, our circadian rhythms may feel a bit off and we may be more prone to insomnia or difficulty sleeping. Pick a bedtime that allows you to get 7-8 hrs of sleep and stick to it. If you’re having difficulty sleeping, try creating your own bedtime ritual that relieves stress and helps your mind wind down. For me, this simply means adding the habit of reading a book (one that’s not too interesting) in bed for about 10-15 mins which naturally drifts me off to sleep.
- Invite joy to your life by making space for opportunities that fill you with warmth and laughter. This can be through the joy in starting or picking back up a hobby, scheduling a regular hang-out with close friends or even taking yourself on a date. Don’t let the cold isolate you from spending time with others or getting out of the house. Not only does this boost your serotonin and oxytocin levels aka. your “feel-good” hormones, but it also helps relieve stress and fosters a sense of belonging and community which has consistently been one of the most crucial factors for wellness and longevity.
These 5 tips offer general strategies that can help everyone (including myself) this season. By taking care to fuel your body and sustain relationships throughout the winter, you’ll be better able to enjoy the cold months while reducing the characteristic signs of isolation, depression, lethargy and warding off colds.
If you have further specific concerns on balancing your health this winter, please contact me to set up an initial health consultation.
**I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Those with major medical concerns should consult with their doctor.
***If you would like to submit a health question, please follow me on IG at @sanghaofgrace and tag me to submit your question.