Chances are if you live in the northern hemisphere you will have already felt like an ice cube at least once this week.
Temperature drops, shorter days and colds/flus can all make life a little less comfortable, so it’s important we make a few changes to our lifestyle and diet during this season. Here’s a few tips for you on how to stay feeling your best this winter…
It’s completely natural to want to hibernate and not venture into the unforgiving cold, however sleeping longer than usual will actually make you more lethargic. Try to time and curtail your sleep to 8 hours a day (adult average).
It’s also not unusual to feel slightly down or depressed due to the shorter days and lack of sunlight – if you try to programme your sleep pattern so you wake earlier you will witness more of the day’s light and experience a significant shift in mind-state as well as an increase in productivity.
It will come as no surprise that in winter we need a few extra pounds of fat on the body to help keep us warm and protect our organs. The body is capable of maintaining core temperature in extreme conditions, but it requires calories to burn to do this – therefore having access to fat stores or to immediately available calories is very useful.
Make sure you snack and keep your energy levels high so you can stay warm and active. Some foods you can eat which are loaded in good fats include avocados, olives, nuts (especially cashews), sweet potato, peanut butter and butternut squash – just eating two from this list a day is a good start.
Moving around in the cold (let alone training!) can be really uncomfortable especially if you have any issues with your joints. The drop in temperature causes contraction of the muscles, leading to stiffness and tension. To help keep your joints pain free and lubricated well, make sure you’re getting enough oils – try coconut oil, flaxseed oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil or pumpkin seed oil. Cook with it or drizzle it on your food.
Self massage also helps to release the muscles. My top tip is to use a muscle rub ointment around affected joints before going out – it will really make a difference in comfort when you start moving (personally I use Tiger/Aboniki Balm).
Immunity and energy boosters
Of course, winter is notorious for an increase in cold and flu virus. Make sure you get some of these great natural immune boosters into your body to help ward off the pesky critters.
The main things you’re looking for are foods high in vitamin C and antioxidants. A few great examples of superpowered foods are citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, green leafy vegetables, beetroot, turmeric, garlic and ginger. Just throw some into your normal meal on the side or mix it in when cooking.
Hair and skin
As well as looking after our insides we also have to protect the surface of our bodies, which are our first defence. Growing your hair (and body hair) longer during winter will help to trap air and keep you warmer, much like an extra layer of clothing. Your skin will also become dry easily because of the cold, so make sure you moisturise and take care of areas such as the lips and nose where hot air from inside your body meets cold air from outside.
Natural oils like coconut oil help fortify and protect skin and hair with a protective layer. Vitamin E is also important in supporting this process from the inside, as it is responsible for repair.