Here in Toronto, colder temperatures have arrived over the last few weeks, as we head into another Canadian winter (shiver)! While I’m excited about these first snowfalls and the holiday season, my overall health tends to take a nose-dive at this time of year.
Like many, I struggle pretty hard with winter weather. My shoulders and neck suffer from huddling against the cold, my asthma is worse, I experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder, and the cold, dry, static air drives me nuts! This year I’m determined to get ahead of things with strategies and hacks to keep me moving and mentally healthy. Here’s what’s been working for me so far:
Keep Essential Oils at Work
I was gifted a set of essential oils and find them to be one of the most amazing and soothing items to keep on hand, especially in the winter time. I have a few favourites that I’ve begun taking to work with me and leaving underneath my monitor, along with a hand lotion and lip balm. I dab a drop or two on my wrists or rub them into my skin a couple of times throughout the day. It’s instantly soothing, and reminds me to take some deep breaths (and stop hunching!) If you have a diffuser at work, even better! Rich scents like a clove, pine, sandalwood or peppermint are delicious, invigorating, and will get you in the holiday spirit 😉
Heat Up Your Workout Clothes
I’ve probably confessed to this one before: I stick my workout clothes in the dryer for 60 seconds before changing into them. It’s still one of the only ways I can motivate myself to swap my thick cozy sweaters and pants for spandex. I make sure that I have clean workout clothes on hand and toss them in the dryer just to “take the edge off.” 😛 Instead of feeling like a chilly chore, it’s like wrapping myself in a luxuriously heated towel. I also layer up for my workouts because I run so hot and cold
Embrace Curries and Chilli
One great thing about winter: the veggies! Enjoy some fiber- rich, savoury, hot meals by making soups, chillis and curries all winter long. Heap on lots of comforting slow-cooked vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash and onions and pump up the spice profile! Turmeric, pepper, masala, curry, cumin and cayenne always help me fight off the winter blues. I’m excited to make this chilli and this curry soon!
Set an iPhone Timer for Stretching & Hydration
I know it sounds like a little much, but setting daily interval reminders can be game-changing. I’ve started to do it at work so that I get a pop-up (like a meeting reminder), telling me to take an ergonomic break, stretch and refill my water glass. I’m much more successful at maintaining these habits with a reminder.
Make-Up Off, Moisturizer On
When I get home from work, I’ve been taking a make-up remover to my face and using a light moisturizer, which I reapply again before bed, and again in the morning. It’s helped me avoid the severe flaking skin that I normally get below my eyes, on my eyelids and around my mouth.
Try Weeknight Mini Meditation
Especially for those working a 9 to 5 indoors, we all know that mindfulness can be a challenge in the winter. A lot of the day is spent in darkness or artificial light, and if you’re like me, many of your thoughts are consumed with staying warm, staying awake, and getting from point A to point B. I know that the sunless evenings seem to fly by, but even just sparing 10 minutes for a simple guided meditation helped me last winter. If nothing else, it’s important to take time to breathe deeply, relax your shoulders and focus on being present – things that I always seem to do when I step out into the summer heat. I don’t have that same “ahhhh” moment in the winter, so it’s helpful to make it a conscious practice. I used Headspace last year and thought that it lived up to the hype – it was accessible, beginner-friendly and offered at a “freemium” pricing model.
How do you adjust your health habits and behaviours in the winter?