Five Winter Wellbeing Tips To Prioritise Self Care
Tis the season to be jolly, and yet even the most festive of us can feel overwhelmed, burnt out or further away from our health goals at this time of year as ever. With the many joys that the lead up to Christmas and New Year can bring (Love Actually with a mince pie and cosy socks anyone?) there’s no doubt that the shopping, organising, socialising, wrapping up projects at work, managing family baggage, travelling and the inevitable winter illnesses can take its toll.
What’s more, this busy period for many of us comes at a time where historically we would have spent time resting and repairing. The Ghost of Christmas Past would no doubt show us our ancestors gathering together around fireplaces and stoves to keep warm and spend time together doing cooking, mending and slower paced tasks compared to the summer months. Our biology is still imprinted with this cyclical nature of the seasons, and we feel the urge to hibernate, rest, repair in the winter months deep within our DNA. It’s no wonder that we feel at odds when we are pushing our minds and bodies at full steam ahead during the shorter, darker days.
With the risk of sounding more Grinch than Buddy the Elf, can we find an approach to the winter season of celebrations which helps to fill our cup both with merriment and nourishment without leaving us depleted and limping towards the 31st of December? Can we find ways to slow down to act as a buffer to the festive frenzy? Read on for this Nutritionists top 5 ways to weave in some much needed selfcare and welcome winter wellness rituals.
1. Spend time in nature
Whilst this may seem obvious to some, spending time in nature comes with a myriad of health benefits and yet it is something most people struggle to do consistently during the cold winter months. Yet, studies have shown that time in nature reduces cortisol levels (our stress hormone) blood pressure and strengthens the immune system. Being outdoors positively impacts our sleep cycles, raises serotonin levels and allows the body to connect and ground. The benefits of being in nature stem from a multitude of factors, from the patterns or ‘fractals’ we see in plants, trees or the sky, to the spectrum of changing light levels and even the smells emitted. Trees and plants actually release antimicrobial essential oils called phytoncides, which protect them. Research has found that these uplifting scents have been shown to improve our mood, immune function, circulatory system and even diminish stress and boost creativity. Try to incorporate some daily ‘outdoor’ time (even for just a few deep breaths) and weekly longer stretches of time in a natural setting.
2. Key Nutrients for Winter Wellbeing
Vitamin C is a go-to choice for many when they think of supporting their immune system in the winter months, which is fantastic, however the benefits of optimal vitamin C intake span way beyond buffering against the winter bugs. Vitamin C is also a crucial nutrient when we are in busy periods and times of stress.
Our adrenals—small glands located above the kidneys—usually deal with stress by producing stress-hormones like adrenaline or cortisol. They also hold the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body and rely on this essential nutrient. The more stress hormones you produce, the more vitamin C you need and the less that is then available for other body systems such as your immunity to use (ever notice that you get run down when you are also super stressed?). As well as supporting our stress and immunity, vitamin C is crucial for our collagen production and energy levels.
Nature always shows us what we need, and it’s no coincidence that fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C are in abundance throughout the late autumn and winter months allowing us to prepare for what may ail us.
Citrus fruits, broccoli and even the humble brussel sprouts are good sources of food-based vitamin C. For some extra support, our True Nightcap and Radiant Collagyn formulas also contain generous amounts of this nutrient wellbeing ally.
Known as ‘nature's chill pill’, this key mineral is an absolute must to prioritise when life gets busy. Utilised in over 350 processes in the body, this incredibly versatile mineral is often depleted when life gets hectic. Important for our energy levels, mood, immune function and hydration, it is essential to keep levels topped up on the daily. What’s more, magnesium is often the missing link for those looking to improve their vitamin D levels or ease symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) as it supports the metabolism of vitamin D.
Dark green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, beans and cacao are all wonderful food sources of magnesium. It’s also no coincidence that we’ve included a highly absorbable form of magnesium in our True Nightcap which can be used before bed to help you wind down or at any moment within the day when you need some relaxation support.
3. Electrolyte balance
Minerals were once much easier to obtain through our diets thanks to mineral rich soils and water, however our modern industrial processes and farming practices have left our food and water with lesser quantities of minerals. This means we need to work a little harder to take on enough for our needs.
Certain minerals are essential to keep us hydrated on a cellular level. These electrolyte minerals transport water into the cells and help to maintain all important fluid balance. Hydration is often something we focus on in the summer months, however it also needs attention during the winter.
The harsh weather and indoor heating can play havoc with your system leaving your body dehydrated and skin dry. Your thirst response also diminishes due to lower temperatures and your mucus membranes (crucial for immune and gut health) also need plenty of fluids to stay protected.
Enjoy warm and hot drinks to regulate your temperature and count towards your daily fluid intake. Top up your water with 6g of True Hydration for extra mineral support. We recommend trying this first thing in the morning or before you go to bed (especially if you’ve enjoyed a mulled wine or two).
4. Digestion + Mindful eating
Our digestive system is in full swing during the festive season, with richer foods on the menu, snacks galore and generally much more indulgence.
It is important to recognise that with over indulgence, it can have an impact on the way our bodies feel - especially the way our digestive system feels and operates. It is therefore important to be more mindful of your hunger cues, aim to plan and prepare your foods in advance when you can and register how you feel with this change to your diet, looking to balance the rich foods across the month.
As a start, take a few calming breaths before you eat to help calm your nervous system and support your digestion. In addition to this, try not to rush your meals and chew your food properly - digestion starts in the mouth and by chewing your food more mindfully can avoid bloating, trapped wind and discomfort.
In addition, try to have some gaps in between your meals to help digest your foods from one meal to the next. 3 to 4 hours between meals is ideal as well as implementing a 10 - 12 hour fast overnight to help your body repair, rest and digest.
The run up to Christmas can be an emotionally charged time that brings a combination of excitement as well as stress and overwhelm - longer days and even longer nights means that we tend to go to bed later which can lead to tiredness and feeling wiped out.
Drinking more alcohol and a change to bedtimes can have a huge impact on our mood, energy, appearance of our skin and general wellbeing. Sleep is such a powerful tool to help our bodies restore, repair and reset.
Trying to schedule in some alcohol free and early nights during the busy periods can be a game changer to how you feel and will help prevent seasonal illness and burn out symptoms. If you are someone who suffers from poor sleep and feeling run down, a cup of True Nightcap is an ideal evening companion which not only helps promote a restorative sleep but contains key nutrients that support your body's stress resilience when you are feeling low and stressed.
Other ideas to help promote gentle relaxation is to practise meditation or find pockets in the day or evening when you can curl up on the sofa after a hot bath and switch off from the hustle and bustle of Christmas festivities. A soothing hot chocolate of Cacao + Reishi is the ultimate way to unwind and contains a blend of Reishi mushroom which is known to support the immune system, promote relaxation, improve sleep and manage stress and anxiety levels.
Wishing you less stress and more magic, less hustle and more silent nights.