Winter is here full-force.
Chances are you’ve been staying inside a lot more than you do in the warmer months, and it’s proving to be harder to get your body moving.
In fact, you may have noticed that the act of doing anything stresses you out more easily, as you’d rather be spending long lazy hours in the comfort of your blankets and pillows.
Trust me when I tell you that you’re not the only one.
That’s because wintertime is all about hibernation.
The trees released their fruits and leaves to the ground months ago, and are now consolidating their forces down into their roots.
Seeds are lying dormant, storing resources that will help them push up in the spring.
Water is moving slowly, or has come to a full-stop in the freeze.
And animals are either asleep, or they are trying to eat as much as possible, expend the least amount of energy getting food, and stay warm in the cold.
Maybe you’ve berated yourself for eating more lately, blaming the holidays for “less-than-ideal” food consumption, but I’m here to tell you that you’re actually right where you’re supposed to be.
Sure, you should cut back on the processed food and sugary snacks, and if you’re not hungry don’t overeat, but it’s perfectly normal to have a slightly increased appetite in the winter as your body needs more energy to warm itself.
Eating a little more is one of the ways your body adapts to the colder weather, but there are other things you can do to tune your habits to the season and be healthier during the colder months.
Here are 7 ways to tune into the winter season:
1. Heat It Up
Let’s be honest, who really craves salad in the wintertime?
Sure, the occasional raw dish can be refreshing amongst all the slow-cooked warming goodies that are served up this time of year, but there’s a reason a hot cup of soup is so satisfying right now: it makes your whole body warm.
Seems obvious, right? And yet so many of us are still drinking smoothies and munching cucumbers while the puddles freeze outside our front door.
To really tune into winter and help your body combat the cold, eat more slow-cooked veggies, soups, stews, and potpies to give your body the nourishment it needs to fend off the cold.
2. Drink Tea
Drinking warm beverages is just as important as eating warm food this time of year, and tea can have the added benefit of boosting your immune-system with medicinal herbs.
Try teas that include herbs like elderberry, ginger, cinnamon, nettle, licorice, and yarrow for maximum benefit.
3. Eat More Roots
Winter’s energy is stored deep inside the earth, so root vegetables are the perfect winter food.
From warm roasted beet salad to home-fries with carrots, there are endless ways to incorporate root vegetables into every meal.
4. Limit Salt
In Chinese medicine, salt is the predominant flavor of winter, and Kidneys are the associated organ.
In order to keep your Kidney energy balanced and your water metabolism running smoothly, it is important not to go overboard on the salt during this season.
Experiment with bitter flavors instead, and see if you can feel the difference.
5. Use the Crockpot
Or an oven, or any technique that will cook your food over a longer period of time.
The longer food is cooked, the more heat it stores for your body to absorb.
Also, since cooking is the first step of digestion (by breaking down your food,) cooking your food longer means that your body will have to work less to extract and utilize the vitamins and minerals that it needs, so it can better focus on keeping you warm.
6. Early to Bed, Late to Rise
Sleepy? You should be.
According to Chinese medicine, winter is the only time of year when you should let yourself sleep in.
If you can’t adjust your weekday schedule to make this possible, make it a priority to lay low on weekends until the flowers come out, so you can get some extra zzz’s in the meantime.
7. Do Less
Along with getting more shut-eye, you should also be less active.
Winter is a great time to practice saying “no” to everything that isn’t going to benefit your well-being.
Now is the time for quieter, more solitary activities like reading, singing, meditating, and warm baths.
Avoid building up a sweat and pushing your limits for the time being. Instead, try going for walks or doing gentle yoga or qigong. This will help you consolidate your energy inside so you are more in-tune with the season.
Do you change your routine in winter? What do you find yourself craving this time of year? Please comment below!