It’s February….the time of year when winter really begins to drag on and there is a longing for sunshine and warmth for many. Although our Colorado winter has been relatively mellow, this time of year always brings that urge to start shedding layers and stop cleaning off my car!
How can we stay healthy, balanced and happy during this time, embrace and appreciate the remaining time of the cold, dark winter months?
I have cultivated some practices that support my body, spirit, and soul during this time of year that I am happy to share:
- Candles: I am a candle lover. All over my house, in every room, there are many burning beginning from the time the sun sets until lights are out for sleep. Lighting candles helps me to remember the light – the light within and the light that we are moving back towards. They are also very soothing for the nervous system and brighten the spirit during these dark times.
- Essential Oils and Natural Incense: Pumping good smelling scents into your home and office is a wonderful way to uplift the spirit and enliven the senses. I always have my essential oil diffuser running at home or some natural incense burning (or sometimes both!). I also carry a spray bottle around with me filled with a good smelling essential oil and a flower essence, which I spray in my car and office often. Adding flower essences to the bottles and the diffuser adds extra benefit by working specifically on an emotional pattern or state of being.
- Music: Playing music and dancing, singing, praying (or all of the above!) is an embodied way of moving energy and tapping into that inner light. I have created a playlist called “Uplift” in which I play often and have mini dance parties in my living room or kitchen anytime I need a little energy boost. I also listen to a lot of sacred chants to tap into my heart as well as play binaural beats in my home to work the various chakras. Music is such a beautiful avenue towards our wholeness and can truly make the spirit come alive.
- Embrace the Elements: Tend to oneself in the cold and wind by dressing appropriately inside and outside the home. Welcome the coziness of the inside by wrapping oneself in luscious clothing, sweaters, shawls and soft blankets. When outside, make sure that you cover your head and neck to avoid penetration of the cold and wind into the system (and it just feels good!).
- Boost the Immune System: I am a big fan of bone broth and constantly am making large batches to drink and immerse in my cooking for both my son and I. It is so easy to include many immune boosting, health enhancing ingredients in your bone broth. Some of my favorites are: chicken or beef bones, apple cider vinegar, seaweed, turmeric, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, any leftover veggies, mushrooms (fresh, dried, or powdered), and lemongrass. The list is endless and anything that strikes your taste buds or senses can be included. I suggest making your broth in a crock-pot and cooking for at least 24 hours. Store in glass ball jars and use in place of water in any recipe (I even use it in pancake mix with my 8 year old!). Get creative!
- Welcome the Darkness: Go to sleep early and rise before the sun. Honor the dark and quiet of the morning with meditation and journaling. It is nice to begin ones day with gratitude by writing out a gratitude list. Calming the mind and emptying the thoughts before the sun has risen (and your children or partners) is a wonderful way to keep the vision and knowledge of the rebirthing that is on the horizon with the increasing light and warmth.
- Take care of your feet: A very important ritual to keep grounded in this Ayurvedically-speaking Vata aggravating time of year (if you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda and find out what your primary dosha is, please look on the Banyan Botanicals website for a wealth of information), taking care of the feet through nightly massage with good quality oils is a must. I like to include some grounding essential oils, such as the Balance blend by Doterra, and generally use either Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, or Sesame Oil. After a bath is a perfect time to do so.
- Cook Savory Comfort Foods and Treat Yourselves to Healthy Sweets: I have a sweet tooth, which seems to be exacerbated in these cold, dark months. Rather than fighting with myself, overanalyzing why I am craving sweets, punishing myself for eating them…I have embraced this part of me and have learned to honor my cravings. Give yourself permission to have treats – bake some delicious and healthy ones and ENJOY them. Get creative in the kitchen and take care of yourself by cooking nourishing comfort foods. Some of my winter favorites are beef stews, baked sweet potato fries, and butternut squash lasagna. Name this as self-care for your soul and acknowledge yourself with gratitude for feeding yourself and your cravings.
- Get Outside: Bundle up and brave those elements. It is good for your heart, your soul, your body, and your spirit!