The winter, at least home here in The Great Appalachian Valley, calls for cozy scarfs, wool socks, soft blankets, and lots of couch cuddling (& probably Netflix). Full hygge mode engaged. Winter also calls out for you to pay more attention to your body. To your needs, to your movements, to your sounds (think whistling noses or gurgling lungs), and to your head space - your thoughts - your emotions.
Winter has this sweet way of letting you know it's OK to go inside, indoors as well as within your self. We're gifted some time to think. To reflect. To plan for the future. To ponder your conditioned ways of thinking and reacting. To make new agreements with yourself. To journal or write creatively. You may see gloom outside your windows, but you don't have to bring the gloom inside your heart. Look past it, there's so much unseen beauty outside in the natural world during the winter. The green grass peaking up from under the snow, the red robin in perfect contrast against the white backdrop, the icicles glistening in the sun as they melt ever so slowly. Go explore! Look past the inner gloom for the vivid colors swirling inside you that may just need a little more coaxing to come out and play. A craft project you've been playing with in your head finally gets it's chance to materialize. Explore these parts of yourself too! Appreciate the seasons and differences in creativity and emotions they inspire.
Winter also encourages us to be a little more creative with our foods. Raw broccoli and carrots for lunch to honor that intention of the New year? Nah, nourish yourself with WARM nutritious foods. Instead of a cold salad, make a vegetable soup. Just as healthy, but easier on the body. Help your body out by eating cooked foods rather than raw veggies which require a lot of energy to break down and digest. Save that energy! There's so much unplanned for wasted energy in the winter: shivering in the cold, keeping our shoulders pulled up to our ears, the extra amount of energy it takes to get out of bed on these cold mornings... The body needs all the energy it can get to stay warm and healthy.
Try to eat the stuff that's in season. The tomatoes and avocados are looking beautiful (maybe too beautiful?) and tempting at the store. They're reminding you of the good old summer days and are for just that... the summer days. (Edit. My boyfriend brought home an avocado yesterday. Said it reminded him of our recent trip to Chile...it's summer there...and wanted to have pan con palta for breakfast again - I had to laugh and show him this blog post! Please note: of course we ate it and enjoyed every moment, but wont be making it a staple meal just yet) Your body needs root veggies like sweet potatoes and parsnip. (Cooked) carrots and cabbage! Look for the warming spices like ginger root and cumin. Test your cooking skills working with these winter ingredients you may not know much about. Here's a Sweet Potato Oat Muffin recipe to get you started. I like to mix in pecans and chopped dates. Your body will thank you. Your digestive track will cheer gleefully. You will feel warm and cozy inside knowing that you've nourished yourself with food made with love. Self Love! Food is Medicine.
Let's talk drinks. Hot drinks. Are you a coffee or tea person? North American society seems to glorify the coffee lifestyle. The buzz you feel, crave, rely on maybe... it's all very conducive to the GO BE PROACTIVE mentality a lot of us have. Flip your perspective a bit and allow yourself to slow down - embrace the tortoise spirit in you and save the energizer bunny for the summer. Nature knows when it's time to slow down (literally... atoms move slower at cold temperatures than hot temperatures) and we should learn to take note and follow suite. Yes we still need to go to work, yes we will still exercise and move our bodies, yes we will still do the laundry and clean the dishes, but we can move slower. Honoring the stillness of winter... allow yourself a slow morning, a calm arrival to work, embrace the inner peace this time of year gives us.
For the sake of trying new things, switch up your routine. Your routines should change a little bit each season. Just as you need to change your wardrobe with each season to protect the outer physical body, what makes you think you don't need to change your routines & diets each season to cater to your inner body? Try starting your morning with a cup of peppermint tea. Adding lemon gives you even more health points. Cold water first thing in the morning shocks the body and slows the digestion process, try this instead. Then after you've hydrated and awoken your senses, you can back it up with a cup of coffee or caffeinated tea if you feel the oh so overwhelming desire. As you travel through your day try to be more mindful of your speed, your moments of calm, your cravings, and your emotions. Take the time to check in with yourself. Pause for a cup (or pot) of tea in the middle of the day. Take a few deep, all encompassing breaths while sitting in traffic. Walk through your front door and make the conscious decision not to turn the TV on. Curl up with a self-reflective book instead. Have you read The Alchemist or The Four Agreements? Let the little fire of self peace burn within you, keeping you calm and warm through these winter days.