Hey Winter, Let's Be Friends
The wisdom of life, Ayurveda, teaches us to live in alignment with nature in order to seek balance.
For most of us, we are experiencing the season of winter. Ayurvedic knowledge can help become friends with winter, so we can enjoy winter and use this time for self-reflection and self-care to gear up for the other seasons to come!
It's not always fun when it's winter because it's cold, dry, and windy outside. That makes us want to stay inside, turn the heater on, which creates more dryness and cuddle under a blanket.
During this season, we are more prone to constipation, dry skin, cold hands and feet, weight gain, and feeling lethargic and sad. All these symptoms contribute to our choice of staying in more, decreased body movement, and eating a bit more because it's cold.
Ayurveda is about counteracting these imbalances by focusing on the opposing qualities of cold and dry. There are lifestyle choices that promote warmth and moisture.
Here's your winter guide:
The sun is not up as long during winter, so dinner is the smallest meal of the day. Think of a small bowl of soup, or half of a sweet potato with almond butter and cinnamon.
As always, make lunch your biggest meal of the day, it's when the sun is at its highest peak. This is when we need the most fuel for our day.
Breakfast's purpose is to "break the fast" your body was on during sleep, it can be small to moderate, or split it up into two small meals: breakfast and snack. Think of a slice of orange banana bread with sunflower seed butter on top or chia/flax pudding.
-Favor soups, stews, dips, nuts, puddings and cooked food over raw, dry, cold foods.
-Add more nuts and seeds to meals.
Foods to Favor:
-Starchy Root Vegetables: sweet potatoes, squash
-Greens: kale, collards, chard
-Fruits: oranges, figs, dates, bananas, grapefruits, lemons
-Nuts/Seeds: Flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, walnuts
-Warming spices: cinnamon, ginger, cumin, salt, black pepper, chilies.
-Dairy alternatives like almond milk instead of regular dairy because it's considered cooling and for those suffering from digestive issues this would be a great time to experiment with dairy alternatives to see if symptoms decrease.
It gets dark early, perfect time of year to go to bed earlier than usual.
But what if it's not easy for you to fall asleep? Sleep patterns can be retained, it just takes time and commitment. This is where stress management comes in...
Focus on creating relaxation:
Turn the lights down low/decrease light usage once the sun goes down.
Play soft calming music to relax the mind.
Avoid TV, computer, or cell phone use because the blue light disrupts the body's biological time clock and tricks it into thinking the sun's still up.
Read a calm easy book, draw, journal, massage your feet or take turns with your partner massaging each other.
Do breathing exercise to relax the mind and body: refer to thinking too much blog and watch the video.
-Wear a hat and scarf to protect and nourish your ears and neck
-Wear or surround yourself with the colors yellow, orange, red, green to keep your spirits uplifted! -Do moderate exercise daily, at least for 30 minutes, keep it light and easy. Take a walk, go to a yoga class or find a yoga class online, or dance to your favorite songs.
-Take a warm bath, then a apply a light coat of oil on the skin at least once a week. Add epson salt to relieve the body from any aches or pains.
-Every morning or night, massage warm oil (almond or sesame) on your skin starting from your head down to your feet. Bringing all strokes towards the heart. This will increase blood and lympathic circulation, remove toxins were logged in the tissue, and calm the nervous system.
*Quickie: massage scalp, hands, and feet.
To be successful at staying in alignment with this guide, pick one lifestyle choice or food choice that really speaks to you and do it for one week straight. After that week assess how you feel and share with me, I would to here how it went :)
Happy Winter Season!
*Please keep in mind that these are general suggestions and every body is different. What might work for one person, might not work for another.
O'Donnell, Kate, and Cara Brostrom. The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook: a Seasonal Guide to Eating and Living Well. Shambhala, 2015.