Winter in the Southern Hemisphere is well and truly here. There is a definite chill in the air and we’re starting to feel the drop in temperature in the mornings and evenings. But our days (here in Sydney anyway) have been glorious. Even though we still need to rug up we have been blessed with some sunny winter days and beautiful blue skies.
Winter time can be harsh on our bodies. We are more prone to getting sick, we are less active, feel less motivated and our skin can suffer.
Here are some of my simple tips to survive and thrive in the winter months.
- Start the day right…breakfast doesn’t need to be complicated. Make a bowl of porridge, add cinnamon and maple syrup or honey. It will warm the belly and sustain you until lunch time.
- Visit local farmers markets and buy fresh, in season produce. Kale can be had in beautiful, fresh and cheap bunches right now. Buy organic where possible. Cook up big batches of hearty soups, curries and stews. Freeze batches for easy dinners for when you just don’t feel like cooking (me…most nights!)
- Add fresh herbs to your foods. So easy to grow even with limited space. Just find a sunny spot and grow in pots. Try herbs like Coriander, Thyme, Parsley, Oregano just to name a few. Herbs have their own unique properties which help fight viral and bacterial infection. They add flavour and freshness to any dish.
- Cook with garlic, ginger, turmeric and chilli. These help to fight infection, are warming and aid in blood circulation.
- Increase your intake of good fats. Foods rich in omega fatty acids to help nourish the skin keeping it supple and soft. Consume nuts and seeds, fresh avocado, oily fish like salmon and sardines, cold pressed oils like olive, avocado or macadamia.
- Juicing! I’m a big believer in the benefits of cold pressed juicing. I know juicing is less favoured to blended smoothies, which I love, because you are getting the whole food, fibre and all (see a couple of my recipes here and here). But cold press juices are easier to digest and a perfect way to inject vitamins, minerals and enzymes which are much needed to fight infection, aide healing and detoxing. Invest in a good quality juice pressing machine (not centrifugal…these generate too much heat and destroy vital enzymes found in fruits and vegetables). When choosing fruits and vegetables select in-season and organic where possible. Limit fruits. The bulk of your juice should contain vegetables. My favourite combo is 1 apple or orange, carrots, celery, beetroot, kale and other leafy greens, ginger and a handful of fresh herbs. I make about 800mls per day. Drink one glass immediately and store the rest in a glass bottle in the fridge (good for 24hrs) and consume throughout the day. I promise you, if you do this on a regular basis you will feel invigorated, energised and you skin will glow!
- I’m not a big believer in over-the-counter supplements (synthetic vitamins etc), unless of course you have a specific medical condition and are deficient in certain minerals or vitamins. If you have access to fresh foods, I believe the average person is able to get all the necessary vitamins and minerals through their food. Variety is key…eat a wide range of fresh foods, from all the food groups. It needn’t be complicated, limit processed foods and enjoy the huge array of natural produce available. Try not to tamper too much with what nature has to offer. And if you are lucky enough to have the space (I wish I had more!), grow your own. Nothing beats a just-picked salad from your garden or maybe some fresh eggs from a couple of chooks roaming out the back.
This is a topic close to my heart. Daily intake of probiotics have been life changing for me. For many years I suffered with poor digestion, I always felt bloated and quite frankly unhealthy. The addition of fermented probiotics has giving me the gift of overall good health (strong statement I know, but for me is 100% true). I no longer suffer with digestion issues, my immunity is boosted and my skin is glowing (with the help of Flora Maia of course!). I feel like I get less colds and flus and when I do, I fight the infection quicker.
If you do succumb to a bacterial infection and you need to go on a course of antibiotics it is most beneficial to take probiotics after you finish the course of antibiotics to re-colonise the gut with healthy bacteria. Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, Kim chi and kaffir. Get a daily dose of fermented prebiotic powders and liquids for optimum gut and skin health.
- Choose natural fibres in clothing. Not only do they keep you warm but they help the skin to breathe.
- Enjoy herbal teas. These days there are a plethora of flavours to enjoy, you never need get bored. Rosehip and hibiscus teas are lovely (both contain anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in antioxidants like skin loving vitamins A and C). Or make your own herbal infusion. Try fresh mint, lemongrass, stinging nettle or thyme (my personal favourite) or a combo of these from the garden. Sweeten with honey if desired or add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and a sliver of ginger.
Get a good night’s sleep
- Winter is conducive to going to bed earlier. It is when we sleep that our bodies go into heal and repair mode. Getting plenty of rest will help the body to fight infection. Try to get a least 8 hours per night.
- If you have trouble getting to sleep try a cup of chamomile tea sweetened with honey if desired. This always does it for me.
- You could also try a couple of drops of lavender essential oil or spray some lavender hydrosol on your pillow. Lavender is known for its calming and sedative properties. Read my blog post on Lavender here.
You may not feel like it but a morning walk in the fresh, crisp air will make you feel revitalised, invigorated and energised. Great for blood circulation and clearing the mind.
There is nothing wrong with a few indulgences in life. Keep it balanced. Enjoy a cup of rich hot chocolate or a piece of apple pie on occasions. I’ve recently been enjoying a bit of port after dinner (am I showing my age?) and a couple of squares of organic dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, flavanols and polyphenols. Great for the skin and especially protective against cardiovascular disease. Always choose a cocoa content of 70% or greater and remember everything in moderation.
Winter means heating. Whether you choose gas, electric or wood fire, these all dry the air and our skin. Drink plenty of water or herbal teas. Consider a humidifier to replace moisture in the air.
I love essential oils for the home. Essential oils have natural anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and they smell wonderful. Diffuse single oils or experiment with a combination of oils. Essential oils all possess their own unique mood enhancing properties…they can be calming, sedative, invigorating, uplifting or help you focus.
- Diffusing essential oils is very beneficial during the cold and flu season. Micro fine particles are dispersed into the air which can then be absorbed into the lungs, aiding respiratory problems (sore throat, blocked sinuses and coughs) and headaches caused by colds and flus. Inhalation also helps with the stresses and mental and physical fatigue associated with illness. My preference of diffusion is ultrasonic aromatherapy diffusers which don’t require heating so they are safer around children and pets, use minimal energy and they automatically switch off when the water level becomes too low.
- Alternatively, to ease congestion, if you don’t have a diffuser, you can just apply 1-2 drops of essential oil to a tissue or handkerchief and inhale the vapours periodically.
- For upper respiratory infections try eucalyptus, clary sage, lavender, lemon, rosemary, tea tree, thyme or peppermint essential oils to name a few.
Skin Care and Health
Winter can be harsh on the skin. We are constantly exposing our skin to extreme temperature changes (artificial heating, cold winds and sun exposure) which all take their toll on our skin. During winter our skin is more prone to dryness and irritation. It can feel more sensitive, look duller and can become flaky and itchy. More so than at any other time our skin needs to be nourished and kept hydrated. A good facial care regime is essential.
- Cleanse skin with nourishing cleansing oils and balms which soothe and balance the skin. Take the time to gently massage the skin which will increase circulation and help to unclog pores reducing breakouts. Harsh foaming cleansers will only exacerbate skin problems associated with winter, leaving the skin feeling tight and dry.
- Use gentle toners and exfoliators to maintain cell turnover. Once or twice a week, treat your skin to a soothing face mask.
- For the body, try dry skin brushing. This will increase circulation and slough off dead skin cells. Follow with a warm shower and some nourishing body oil or balm.
- Keep the skin on your face moisturised and supple. More than any other time, winter is the time your skin will most benefit from the use of facial oils. Botanical oils will nourish and protect the skin. Rich in omega fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and phytosterols to feed, repair and strengthen the skin. They provide a protective barrier to prevent trans epidermal water loss.
- Let’s not forget about the lips. Painful, dry cracked lips are often synonymous with winter. Keep lips soft, supple and protected with nourishing natural lip balms. Apply morning and night and anytime throughout the day to keep lips looking and feeling their kissable best. Always carry a lip balm with you so you can reapply as needed.
- Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to apply sunscreen every day even in winter (I’m still using an SPF of 30). Sure the sun isn’t as severe in winter, but skin should always be protected from damaging UVA and UVB rays. This is essential all year round to prevent premature aging and skin cancer.
Flora Maia have a botanical range of skin care products that your skin will love. We only use the purest plant oils (organic where possible) – no unnecessary fillers, harsh chemical ingredients or mineral oils. Your skin will always feel nourished, supported and balanced. Check out our complete range here.
I hope you find some of these simple tips useful. Please leave a comment and share any tips you have for beating the winter blues.
Inspired by the Beauty and Science of Nature,
Vesna @ Flora Maia