How do you feel when you have to pack your shorts and vests away and reach for your woolies and coats? Leave your thoughts below…you won’t be alone!
I may have a warm heart but I have to admit, I am a cold person! I resist the cold at every sign of wind, rain, snow, hail or ice. Even if I’ve got several layers on, the feeling of cold on my face sends shivers through my body.
In the summer, I can jump into lakes and rivers, take cold showers and eat ice-cream until the cows come home. And whilst heaps of salads and their dressings, smoothies, even homemade ice cream in the summer sit beautifully in my system, as soon as the cold weather arrives, even cold water can leave me shivering and resisting going outside.
This is a shame because I know that a little bit of time outside, really being in nature (and the weather), is great juice for my mind. Most of us can’t really hibernate over the winter. Even living up in the high mountains of Spain, I still need to work, communicate and keep myself happy in my skin.
I also suffer Reynauds, where occasionally, touching cold stuff when I’m already feeling chilly can cut of the circulation to my fingers and sometimes toes. It can take an hour or more for normal service to resume. Supermarkets, especially in the winter are cold and hostile places for me.
So then, as Autumn comes, I’m jumping into hot soups, stews, dhal and sauces, rice and potatoes. The question is, how can we preserve the life-giving pranic energy in our food and stay warm during the cooler, then cold, then icy winter months?
I’ve got 10 of the best habits that have helped to keep me warm through some harsh winters. Last winter, here in Spain we had storms, unexpected high winds and plenty of snow. It was tough for a cold bird like me. I don’t think I’ve been through a cold winter without central heating since I was too young to remember. These things helped enormously. Don’t try to integrate them all at once. New habits take 21 days. Add one per week to your daily routine and by the time the cold spells really kick in, you’ll be pre-heated and prepared, whatever the weather!
1. Morning warmth
Instead of cold smoothies and juices in the mornings, drink ginger tea, with lemon if you like. Either, or both will fight off viruses, sore throats and other autumnal nasties, alkaline your gut and stimulate your digestive system and metabolism.
To retain the goodies (water soluble vitamins and minerals) within, make a smoothie with the raw vegetables first and slowly heat it up to a temperature that suits you. Cook your lentils first and while they are warm (not hot) add them to the cold vegetable mixture. Obviously the lower the temperature, the better. But even a slight warming will stop the blue rinse in your system!
There are some amazing blenders on the market which do just this. They heat the smoothie as you blend. Mind you, they are very expensive – even for me, who uses a blender at least once per day and considers it to be as important as my kettle. I managed to pick up a one kilowatt Vitamix lookalike and workalike for €65, here in Spain. It’s a glass jug, quiet and it does start to heat the liquid after a while. But I prefer to simply transfer the required portion to a pot and heat gently.
4. Keep calm and drink tea!
It’s so easy to avoid drinking water in the winter. Your filtered favourite or special spring water just doesn’t cut it when it’s freezing outside. So you can try drinking warm water (maybe with lemon) or if it still doesn’t satisfy, go for tea instead. There are so many to choose from. Cutting down on coffee and drinking tea instead usually means that you consume less sugar (there’s sugar in milk too), less toxins (especially if you avoid black tea) and spend less money. A great make-at-home alternative to the coffee ritual is dandelion coffee. You can buy it roasted, grind it and make it in the cafetiere. Mixed with some coconut milk, even without sugar, tastes rich and nourishing. And your urinary tract will be singing with joy!
5. Cut down salt in the winter
Good salt has a place in the diet of most people. But we don’t need so much sprinkling going on during the winter. We sweat less and relax more, especially with longer darkness hours. Salt, in excess, can reduce body temperature and increase heat escaping from the body (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1113/jphysiol.2002.027029/pdf). The best place for salt in winter is defrosting your doorstep!
Coconut has been found to increase body temperature (http://butterbeliever.com/how-i-raised-my-body-temperature-by-a-full-degree-in-less-than-a-week/), increase metabolism too. And it’s great for keeping additional winter pounds away. Have a spoonful in your soup (there are some new organic brands without the strong smell or taste, if it bothers you). Use it on jacket potatoes, crackers or your favourite healthy breads instead of butter. Put some on your skin after a bath too. It’s extremely alkaline and absorbs really well, so your white underwear is not at risk.
7. Watch out for the acid
We naturally lean towards more heating foods during winter. Yogis call these Rajasic foods because they embody the fire element.
They increase digestive enzymes to make the digestion work harder and bring on more heat. Most of them are acid-forming foods including sugar, processed foods, chilli, coffee, alcohol and meat. Overdosing these can bring on stresses of all sorts because the increased acidity and work needed by the body. If you sense irritability or other fiery emotions, include more vegetables in your diet. Root vegetables will settle you in body and mind and lightly cooked greens will lift you up on the darkest of days.
8. Get a hottie into bed with you!
Body, and likely room temperatures fall just as you get into bed. If you are a ‘cold extremist’ like me, then you may struggle to get to sleep with cold tootsies! A hot husband may be enough for me except on the chilliest of nights! A hot water bottle really does the trick when it’s below zero outside. What about electric blankets? Whilst there’s not a lot of evidence yet to support my view, I don’t like them. I have slept on a couple and have felt the electric current running through my body and have been able to give my husband shocks at a mere touch (this is not a love life enhancer, believe me!). There is a lot of research done into the use of many electrical devices which are near to the body for extended periods, including mobile phones and electric blankets (http://www.bioinitiative.org/conclusions/). When they talk about an increase in breast cancer, reduced immune system, neurological issues such as Alzheimers, I’d prefer a cheaper, safer and more traditional way.
9. Make D while the sun shines
In the ‘dead’ of winter, it’s difficult to get any Vitamin D from the sun. Depending on where you live in the world, the sun may just not get high enough in the sky. Honour these ‘low’ points by taking rest and even having a few days to hibernate. Perform activities more mindfully. Time some time out to reflect the past year – the successes and the lessons learned. Then think about the possibilities for the next year. Now is not the time for great activity and making things happen. Gather your thoughts, save your energy and enjoy the peace winter has to offer. And when the sun shines, get out there and turn your face and however much more of your body you can stand, to it’s light. If you suffer from depression in the winter (Seasonal Adjustment Disorder) or you have long winters, maybe consider a holiday at this time where you’ll be outdoors for long periods or consider investing in a daylight lamp (http://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/gadgets-tech/best-sad-lamps-sad-light-boxes-9821638.html).
10. Exercise – workout and workin!
I remember training over the winter for a half marathon and subsequent marathon. I even went out on Christmas Day. But I do remember developing a real connection with the winter, without the battle of keeping warm. It really didn’t matter how cold it was. In fact, I remember having to avoid shady, icy patches some mornings. I would still always have the gloves and hoodie off after three miles. And the bath after my weekend runs seemed to give me my own central heating for hours! Running may not be your thing, so what about walking? If you really prefer to get home from the office and not go out again after dark, how about some yoga indoors? You don’t need much to do this – just a sticky mat and some stretchy clothing. There is yoga for every body now. From jumping, pumping, strong practices to chair yoga. All of it has benefits and will move your body, igniting your muscles and raising your bliss level in it’s own way. Yoga makes you feel good, period! The Sun Salutation, which is a warming, limbering sequence of twelve poses is a great start to any day. Check out my You Tube and Vimeo channels for some FREE! stuff – https://vimeo.com/user23239386 and https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUgj-IruoyqaExzGwMTxRnA
Integrate these simple routines into your life, one at a time, starting today and you’re sure to be toastie all through winter!
Until next time, get warming!