Staying happy, healthy and well through Winter is always a challenge; particularly when Winter in Ballarat seems to begin earlier and last longer than in other parts of the country.
As with most things, the best way to ensure you stay as healthy as possible through the colder months is to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet, include some exercise into your routine most days and get plenty of rest.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, harmonising oneself with the seasons is the best way to stay healthy and prevent disease.
Our top five ways to stay healthy in Winter are:
Now is the time to put away the salad bowl and drag out the wok, casserole dish and slow cooker. Certain foods at this time of year can help warm you from the inside out, maintain your energy and help increase immunity. Replace raw, cooling foods with slow cooked, warming foods.
Eating foods that are abundant at this time of year is a great way to be in harmony with the season. In Australia (particularly our cool climate) broad beans, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, English spinach, leeks, onions, potatoes, Chinese broccoli, silver beet and turnip are all readily available and are therefore great vegetables to eat regularly in soups, stews, casseroles or bakes.
Flavour your foods with herbs and spices like cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, parsley, mint, oregano, rosemary and dill.
Also look to include things like adzuki, turtle or black beans, lentils, chicken, salmon, trout or lamb, black or wild rice, whole grains and animal proteins and broths to help nourish and warm the body.
When looking for something sweet, fruits such as pears, apples, oranges, kiwi fruit, lemon, limes and mandarins are also great to include in your diet.
Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark. During winter our circadian rhythms may change as the hours of sunlight decrease and the hours of darkness increase.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD or seasonal depression) is more common during the winter months. Some scientists believe this is due to people being out of sync with the environment and their circadian rhythm.
To give yourself the best chance of staying happy and healthy during winter, respond to your circadian rhythm by maintaining a healthy balance of work, rest and play.
From sunset, start bunkering down with a cup of tea, comfy clothes or a warm bath and a hearty meal; preparing yourself for sleep. Switch of technology and go to bed earlier than you might in the warmer months.
EXERCISE & ACTIVITY
Whilst you might have the urge to hibernate completely throughout winter, maintaining some regular exercise and movement (and spending some time outdoors) is still important to good health and wellbeing.
Similarly to using the evening hours for rest and relaxation, you should take advantage of the daylight hours for movement and exercise. Ideally, you should include at least 20 minutes expose to sunlight to help maintain Vitamin D levels. Stretching, yoga, Tai-Chi, Qi-Gong, regular short walks and strength workouts are all ideal exercise choices for the colder months.
Winter is an ideal time to look inward. Meditation and breathing techniques can help manage stress and mood. Journal writing, reading and crafts are great ways to occupy the mind and calm the emotions.
As the temperatures drop, we are less likely to reach for the water bottle. But staying hydrated during winter is just as important as during the warmer months. Being indoors with heaters on more often can cause the skin, mouth and nose to dry out.
Rather than drinking cold liquids, opt for warm water or teas. Lemon tea is a great way to increase your energy in the morning and teas dark in colour (like black, chai, Pu’er and oolong) are warming as are herbal teas such as ginger, spearmint, cinnamon, ginseng and turmeric.