Mind + Body Prep for the Winter Season
The days are shorter, the temperature is cooler and my boots are front and center in my closet. Winter is coming! As the seasons change, help your mind and body meet the challenge of winter head-on with these four simple strategies.
Eat Anti-Inflammatory Foods Regularly
Reduce your body’s inflammation by placing anti-inflammatory foods in the center of your plate on the daily. Regularly eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins (like beans and nuts), fatty fish (like salmon), and fresh herbs and spices will help your body stay in fighting shape this winter and give your brain a boost to boot.
“One of the best defenses for staying healthy through the cold season is to eat a nutrient-dense diet rich in nourishing, anti-inflammatory foods. Focus on a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, onion, garlic, mushrooms, fermented and fiber-rich foods to feed the gut, and ingredients with known anti-inflammatory properties.”– KATIE MORFORD, REGISTERED DIETICIAN AND FOOD WRITER, WWW.MOMSKITCHENHANDBOOK.COM
Nutrition experts regularly advocate for more plants on your plate and fighting inflammation is a big reason why. If you’re looking to take your anti-inflammatory game to the next level, registered dietician and food writer Katie Morford of Mom’s Kitchen Handbook has a delicious little turmeric tonic recipe to support your efforts. Turmeric and ginger are our natural allies in the battle against inflammation and Katie puts them together with lemon juice for a refreshing (if cold) and warming (if hot) drink.
Make + Eat Soup
Naturally ward off and treat colds with a time-honored remedy — soup! Soup is generally an easy-to-make dish that leans heavy on vegetables, herbs and small amounts of protein for a nutritionally dense and satisfying one-pot meal. Many cultures and cuisines around the world rely on chicken soup in particular for its health and healing properties and as it turns out, scientific studies show that chicken soup really does have medicinal value.
The secret ingredient in soup is the broth or stock from which it’s made. Nutritionally speaking, stock and broth are pretty equal, both providing a great variety of nutrients. However chicken or beef stock have a higher concentration of nutrients and also contain collagen, which benefits the immune system. An added bonus for chicken is that it contains an amino acid called cysteine which has been shown to thin mucus in the lungs, supporting the healing process.
When it comes to health-giving soups, I’m a fan of Pinch of Yum‘s Healing Chicken with Rice Soup which is tangy, warming and oh-so-satisfying. It is chock full of healing spices like ginger, garlic and turmeric, and includes rice to give it that “comfort food” feel.
If you don’t eat chicken, make a vegetarian version using vegetable stock and add more of your favorite anti-inflammatory vegetables, healing herbs and some fried tofu. Or try this Immunity Boosting Soup from iheartvegetables.com. It’s a hearty bowl full of lentils, kale, sweet potatoes and spices.
Sleep A Solid 8
Getting a good night’s sleep can be tricky these days. Changes in habits, diet and lifestyle impact our sleep, for better or worse. And there have certainly been many changes in habits and lifestyle this year! Ironically, sleep is one of the most regulating health habits we have.
There is plenty of science to support the vital link between sleep and health but this study published in Science Magazine, reinforces the idea that sleep is truly a biological need. Researchers found that during sleep, our body conducts a brain-cleansing process that washes away waste proteins that are toxic to brain cells.
This could explain why we don’t think clearly after a sleepless night and why a prolonged lack of sleep can actually be life threatening. In fact, this brain cleaning takes so much energy that it isn’t possible for the brain to both clean itself and at the same time be aware of its surroundings and necessary functions in the world. It’s only during sleep, when the body can pool its resources, that the energy required for this important work is available. The brain is the command center for keeping our body healthy and our immune system strong. Commit to solid, quality sleep each night to prep your brain for the day — and the winter — ahead.
See Green Daily
There are multiple studies that support the connection between spending time in nature and improved mood and mental health. In fact, there is a Japanese term for this practice which translates to “forest bathing”. Intrinsic to “forest bathing” is the deep relationship between nature and well-being.
A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health looks at this idea from a slightly different place: it focused on pictures of the green outdoors rather than on the real thing. And their findings are compelling. The data suggests that short durations of viewing green pictures may actually help people to recover from stress, comparable to actually being in nature.
Even if you live in an urban setting, get outside for a walk and as you walk, look for something green. Go to the park, walk by a neighborhood garden, or take in the leaves on a tree up close. The point is to rest your eyes on something green. If you can’t get outside much, get a plant and set it next to you so you can gaze at it periodically throughout your day. But really, if you can, try to get outside. A side benefit to connecting with nature outdoors is that typically you are walking so you’re also getting some exercise benefits as well as a break from your desk and screen.
Getting your mind and body ready for the seasonal transition to winter doesn’t mean a total overhaul of your routines. It’s really as simple as taking a walk around the block or eating an apple. Consider adding these simple tools to your self-care and march confidently into winter. In boots.:)
What do you do to support your well-being in transitions? Are there specific tools in your self-care tool box that work for you? Please share below! Be sure to come follow Blendtopia on Facebook to stay connected, and follow us on Pinterest to learn more ways to help support your mental, physical, and emotional wellness.