Now, as we approach the winter solstice, the darkest night of the year; it’s time to go deep inside. Light a candle, make some tea, sit in the dark and contemplate your life. Where have you been? Where are you going this next year?
It’s time to rejuvenate and replenish yourself before the holidays. Slow down, sleep more when you can, nourish yourself with homemade soups and stews and bring warm tea with you as you venture out into the world. Even if you live in a warm climate, it’s important to slow down and honor your body’s natural rhythms. Like bears in the wild, it’s time to hibernate. Ever wonder why we are so prone to sickness this time of year? Sure it has a lot to do with being inside with windows shut tight against fresh clean icy air, but it’s also because we get so far out of balance with food, drink and social calendars. Add in the enhanced Vata irritation of wind and cold and we find our lungs are particularly at risk for infections.
So here are my top 10 ways to stay physically and emotionally well this winter—plus a bonus tip.
1. Have your heating and air ducts cleaned professionally. Love that cozy smell of the furnace the first time it kicks on for the year? Me too—until I found out that I was smelling dust, mold, mildew and dead insects. Give your lungs a break and make the investment to have your ducts sucked clean.
2. Increase your water intake. Sure it’s easy to stay hydrated when we’re working out and aware of the summer heat; but as winter comes, we forget that our bodies need adequate water to guard against illness and operate at maximum efficiency. My doctor says that dehydration causes small cracks in our noses that allow germs to enter easily, so drink up.
3. Natural germ fighting Vitamin D isn’t being produced in our bodies if we live in the Northern Hemisphere like it is in the warmer months and our immune systems naturally drop. Studies have shown that supplementing with Vitamin D is an immune booster. In addition, get some sunshine on your body. If you can find a wind blocked area on a warm, sunny winter day, spend some time with minimal clothing on and get a few minutes of natural sunlight on your body.
4. Eat with the season. Now is the time to gravitate towards warmer foods, suddenly raw, cold salads have lost their appeal. Make soup, stew, roasted vegetables and warm meals with foods naturally in season. Squash and root vegetables are perfect for this time of year; both rich in antioxidants and lush in color for our bored winter eyes. If you’re a raw foodist, add warmth by using spices and eating more dehydrated foods.
5. Purify your inside air. As we’ve become more energy efficient in our home building, we’ve created sealed environments. While great on energy savings, those lost drafts helped to purify our inside air. Invest in an air purifier if you can, and if you can’t; open your windows once a day to let in some fresh air. If you work from home, consider doing this during the heat of the day when the sun is out and the temperature is at it’s highest. Another great way to do this is to throw open your bedroom windows while you make your bed in the am, and then close them. A few seconds is all it takes to flood any room with fresh air.