10 Ways to Intuitively Care for Yourself this Winter
So we’re partway into the winter season, and you may already be feeling the effects that can come with this time of year – drowsiness, depleted energy, and a complete lack of motivation. Maybe you’re feeling heavy from dense, fattening, and simple carbohydrate-rich foods that are plentiful and oh-so attractive during this time of year.
Despite all the best efforts, and self-proclaimed New Year’s Resolutions, you still may find yourself sticking with many of those same habits from the holidays (that you had intended to banish off forever) such as binge-watching TV on the couch every single night (maybe now you’re even centrally located in the bed), eating regretful foods as often as possible (I mean it is winter, duh), and swearing that one day you might exercise again (how about next month please?).
You may be feeling guilt, resistance, and procrastination towards these recently adopted habits - that seem to have taken up a permanent residence in your life lately. But what if this shift in energy isn’t something that should be done away with or completely resisted? What if it should instead be listened to, seen through a perspective of acceptance, and that these fluctuations of your life should be embraced?
(I’m not here advocating for you to stay on your coach for two weeks straight, or to eat crap food every time that craving strikes - that might be taking it too far).
Just as spring symbolizes new life, abundance, and vibrancy, we should also open ourselves to life’s message that this and every winter season is a part of existence. And with it comes a time to slow down, reflect, rest, connect, and care for ourselves.
The strategy to transforming our experience of winter (and all seasons for that matter) from one of imbalance, overindulgence, and exhaustion to one of grounding, harmony, and true rest lies in the decision to care for ourselves intentionally and intuitively, so that we can align ourselves with nature’s natural rhythms. How can we live in line with the universe's effortless flow of life and embrace this winter season?
1. EAT PLENTY OF ROOT VEGETABLES
Including lots of root vegetables into your weekly meals can be very grounding for your body. By bringing in a variety of seasonal vegetables like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, winter squash, Yukon or russet potatoes, radicchios, parsnips, turnips, and rutabagas can help provide your body the exact nourishment it needs for the season. These powerhouse veggies have anti-inflammatory and immune boosting powers (thanks to the beta carotene and plentiful antioxidants).
Try some new delicious plant-based winter recipes like these yummy Potato Dumplings (+ 30 other recipes) over at One Green Planet.
2. Connect with Loved Ones
Spending quality time with family, friends, and loved ones can be especially nourishing during this time of year. You can do any number of activities together such as goal setting, vacation planning, cooking, going to a sauna or hot springs (if you have any locally), making a fire together, and winter activities like skiing, tubing, hiking, and ice skating.
3. Utilize Healthy Fats
During fall and winter, our bodies tend to crave heavier and more fattening, protein-rich foods. Some amazing sources of plant-based fats include nuts, seeds, avocados, and healthy oils like coconut oil and olive oil.
If you include meat and dairy in your diet, some clean sources of fat include grass-fed ghee and butter, pastured eggs, wild-caught fish and other seafood, and grass-fed or pastured meats.
4. Find Comfort in Daily Life
If you’re like me, when you think of winter, you think cozy blankets, knit sweaters, candles, warm baths, soothing and hot drinks, curling up on the couch, reading a good book, and maybe even taking a restorative nap.
Try to balance your times of work and action with harmonizing activities like the ones listed above.
5. Cook Warm & Soothing Foods
Eat seasonally by making lots of warm stews and soups, roasted and steamed veggies, and cooked grains like millet, quinoa, and amaranth for dinners. For breakfast try sweet rice (yummy recipe), a grain or oat porridge, or toast with healthy fats on top.
6. Create Intentions & Time for Reflection
Along with trying to include comforting activities into your daily life, also attempt to find time to add in experiences where you can create intentions for yourself and allow time for reflection.
Journaling allows you to work out your subconscious thoughts, dreams, fears, and desires. If done consistently, it can truly add to a greater connection with your intuition and true self. I highly recommend adding Morning Pages to your daily routine.
Setting intentions monthly and goals for the year can also be very powerful in aligning with your life’s purpose. It is also the perfect time to reflect on where you are in your life with relationships, goals, and with personal self-improvement. Be gentle with yourself if you note any areas needing improvement, and try accepting where you are in your journey. Set intentions to grow in those spaces of your life that could use some work.
7. Incorporate Restorative Movement
Integrate a healing and balancing practice into your weekly exercise routine such as Tai Chi, Qigong, Yoga, and meditation. These mindful exercises can help reduce stress, bring about greater awareness and focus, reduce anxiety and depression, and put you more in tune with your intuition.
8. Add in Naturally Salty Foods
To ground yourself and complement the water element of the winter season, add in naturally salty foods to your diet. Experiment with adding in sea vegetables like nori and kombu, fermented miso in soup, broths, and other fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or (real) pickles and olives (not the pasteurized kind).
9. Soak Up Some Sun & Spend Time in Nature
Even though its winter, it’s still very important (and possible) to get outdoors and soak up some sun at least a couple of times per week. If possible, also aim to spend time in nature – where you can breathe in that fresh winter air (just be sure to dress accordingly).
If you live somewhere where the sun comes out very rarely in the winter, and it’s hard to expose your skin to the sun, you may want to research and consider supplementing with Vitamin D.
10. Use Warming Spices
Try to incorporate warming herbs and spices like ginger, garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cayenne, mustard seed, and cumin when cooking. Attempt to theme your winter dishes around these heating herbs as often as possible throughout the season.
Implementing the tips above can be very helpful in transforming your experience of winter into a much happier, balanced, restful, and reflective season.
What rituals or activities do you feel bring you the most balance and peace in winter?