5 Tips For Winter Wellness
Image: Unsplash. All Other Images: Loren Lazic
Surviving the glut of Winter coughs and colds can feel like an endless assault course. However you don’t have to rely on medication to stay healthy. Loren Lazic brings us a holistic guide to staying well this winter with her 5 tips to Winter Wellness.
Few of us can escape the colleagues and commuters who refuse to take a sick day. You know the ones that power on like soldiers, coughing and sneezing, touching everything in sight. ‘’Bless you!’’ we cry out as the spray hits our face, praying silently to be spared. Yet no amount of blessings (or those three satsumas at lunch) will save us, this flu is our fate.
So how can we improve our resistance to the inevitable lergies that lurk in our everyday environments? Here we walk through five pillars that used in combination help strengthen our internal defence system and shield us from those pesky winter invaders.
Feeding our microbiome (the vast network of microorganisms in our body) with probiotic foods and wild ferments such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and other pickled vegetables is a great tactic to boost overall health. Remember that pre-refrigeration, fermenting was common practice to keep produce fresh for longer but has since declined in popularity. Luckily there has been a resurgence due to its many health benefits, with kombucha even stocked at some off-licenses. Not in your neighborhood? Don’t fret – simply make your own at home using @nourishedkitchen for inspiration. Increase consumption gradually, and don’t forget to fuel your newfound probiotic warriors with prebiotic foods like leeks, artichokes, garlic, onions and radishes.
Being too sterile at home can also weaken our immune system, as cleaning with harsh chemicals damages our protective skin barrier and gut lining. Alternatively, research DIY natural cleaners made with vinegar and citrus fruits that do the same job with no harmful side effects, or opt for hand washing dishes with a good old fashioned sponge instead of running the dishwasher.
Another efficient way to increase immunity is to put ourselves into natural, larger ecosystems than our usual ones (home – office – gym – repeat). Get outside into nature; take a walk in a forest, swim in a lake, breath in the salty ocean air! Exposing yourself to a wide range of biodiversity will invigorate the microbiome, and the extra sunlight is critical for vitamin D production. Owning a pet dog is a great way to spend more time outdoors, plus they won’t have any qualms about getting dirty and rolling in the mud!
Certain foods have natural antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, in particular ginger, coconut oil, lemon and turmeric. Throw these into a smoothie on a daily basis or infuse in warming herbal teas. If you feel a cold approaching, take a spoonful of raw honey that hasn’t been heat processed (heating damages its nutritional content) and combine with antioxidant propolis for maximum benefit. Echinacea tinctures have also been known to fend off colds and flu or purchase in handy tea-bag form with soothing cardamom and cinnamon (Yogi-Tea). Buy organic, locally and seasonally as much as you can to reinforce natural microbiome patterns, and mix up your fruits and vegetables each week for variety.
In our current working culture where we are made to feel guilty if we are not productive at all times, burnout has become the norm. This ‘go, go, go’ mentality puts our bodies into a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ mode. Just imagine if your body thought a cheetah was about to attack, 24 hours of the day! It is our cells, glands and hormones that pay the price, eventually struggling to function correctly.
Be as strict with your rest as you are with your work by scheduling time in your calendar for complete relaxation. This could be as simple as 10 minutes of guided meditation, or taking a 20 minute nap. Find time for laughter and don’t take life so seriously – personalised affirmations or a mantra hung by a mirror or wardrobe are easy ways to remind ourselves of life’s priorities.
Sleep gives our cells a chance to regenerate and repair, so aim to sink into a slumber early enough in order to wake up naturally in the morning. Healthy habits such as falling asleep and rising at the same time everyday and avoiding screens before bedtime (invest in an analogue alarm clock!) will all contribute to a better night’s shut-eye. Adequate sleep makes for better decisions, meaning we will be less likely to reach for stimulants such as caffeine and sugar when energy levels dip; these do nothing but tire our adrenals and inflame our gut.
Having trouble falling asleep? Dim the lights and soak in a muscle-relaxing epsom salt bath. (Or choose from our favourite natural bath salts) Elevate the experience with calming lavender essential oil, and finish with a yoga nidra sleep recording to clear away any chatter in the mind. (For more Bath Ritual ideas to help you relex, click here.)
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Disclaimer: Please note these are general pointers to promote overall health and wellness – a medically trained practitioner should be seen to assess and treat specific symptoms on an individual basis.