This post was written by Heinen’s partner, Halle Snavely.
Whether we like it or not, winter is coming, which means it’s time to hunker down, revive our self-care routines and nourish our bodies with warm winter goodness.
In Chinese Medicine, winter is defined by “yin” or resting energy. It is a time to rest, slow down and go inward. Therefore, the activities of this season are all meant to encourage and enhance yin energy. The kidneys are the primary organ associated with winter, and they require a lot of rest in order to rejuvenate. During this time, we are meant to consolidate our energy to prepare for the growth, expansion and activity of spring.
Here are a few ideas to help ease the transition to the cold winter months of the Midwest.
1. Eat Warm, Cooked Foods
When the weather gets cold, our digestion tends to slow down. During the winter months, it’s best to eat cooked foods because they are easier on the digestive system than raw foods. Broths and stews are great for this time of year, as well as roasted root vegetables, winter squashes and sautéed hearty greens, like collard greens and kale.
2. Light a Fire
Is there anything better than cozying up by the fire with a good book in the wintertime? Spending time near a fire isn’t just comforting, it’s actually incredibly good for you. Fire is a source of natural infrared light, so it helps keep your circadian rhythm in balance as opposed to artificial lights which can often confuse your internal clocks. The element of fire also helps boost melatonin production, which is the hormone that helps you sleep.
3. Find Some Time to Sweat in the Heat
Whether it’s a hot yoga class, relaxing in an infrared sauna (a great replacement if you don’t have a fireplace) or sweating in a hot exercise room (as opposed to doing cardio in a cold exercise room), working up a sweat is a great way to release toxins. This is especially important for those of us who prefer to exercise outside, as you may not have as many opportunities to sweat during the winter.
4. Practice Cold Exposure to Help Your Body Adapt to Winter Temperatures
For all of the self-proclaimed “freeze babies” out there, bundling up with warm sweaters, drinking warm beverages and using heating pads feels really good, because let’s be honest, being cold is not fun. However, according to Time Magazine, our bodies actually adapt to colder temperatures with increased exposure.
Taking a cold shower is known to have innumerable potential benefits, including improved immunity, lower levels of anxiety and better circulation. But it’s also a great way to acclimate your body to colder temperatures. Start with just 30 seconds at the end of your shower, and work your way up to 3 minutes.
5. Consider Taking a Vitamin D Supplement
The traditional grey Midwest winter lacks sunshine, which is why taking a good Vitamin D supplement is super important for our overall health, and particularly the health of our immune systems. It’s also great for our mental health as it helps to ward off seasonal affective disorder. Nutritional Roots Vitamin D supplement is a great option from Heinen’s Wellness Department.
Note: Please consult your primary care physician before adding new supplements to your wellness regimen.
6. Practice Good Oral Hygiene
You might be surprised to learn that taking good care of your mouth is actually very important for your overall health. Bacteria can enter our bodies through our mouths, so keeping it clean by regularly brushing and flossing helps minimize bacteria. Other ways to maintain good oral health are by scraping your tongue and rinsing your mouth with salt water. Be sure to check out Heinen’s Wellness Department for top-quality oral care products!
7. Get Extra Sleep
With winter comes fewer hours of daylight, so we’re naturally encouraged to get more sleep during this season. Our bodies expend more energy during the day trying to keep us warm; therefore, we need more time to recover. Make sure your body has enough time to rejuvenate with ample rest during this time of year.