Just like we renew our wardrobes as the seasons change, our self-care routines need a seasonal switch-up too. As winter rolls in, these 9 simple cold-weather wellness tips will help you brave the chill.
Our daily self-care routines help us stay happy and healthy. But we don’t just need daily routines. We need seasonal routines, too. The reason for that is simple—the seasons affect our body and mind. Scientific studies show that seasonal variations in daylight, temperatures and weather conditions affect us tremendously. Our mood, metabolism, hormone balance and sleep patterns all change along with the seasonal cycles.
So when seasons change, it’s time to switch up our self-care habits in order to restore the harmony between our body and the natural world around us. That sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are 9 easy tips for health and well-being in winter.
1. Embrace dry brushing
Dry brushing is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that has been around for centuries, but lately it has been making a comeback as a wellness phenomenon. It's a simple technique that involves running natural bristles over the skin in gentle strokes. A combo of exfoliation and light massage, dry brushing can help remove dead skin cells and toxins from your skin, unclog pores, encourage blood circulation, relieve stress, boost your immune system and increase energy. It’s also said to reduce cellulite. But perhaps the most powerful part of dry brushing is that it takes you into a meditative state by bringing your undivided attention to your body.
2. Walk more, drive less
There’s nothing like going for a walk when the air is crisp and cold. Replacing your short drives with walks is a wonderful way to get your dose of fresh air, natural light and exercise during the cold months. Added bonus: if you commute by foot instead of by car, you don’t have to deal with the stresses of traffic. To level up your walking experience, put on your headphones and listen to a voice-guided walking meditation.
3. Soak in hot baths
The most relaxing way to take the chill out of winter? Run a hot bath and soak in it! To boost the benefits of your soak, soothe your senses with scented candles and add a fragrant bath foam to your tub. Or try meditating in the bath!
4. Winter-proof your sleep routine
The colder months are a naturally restful time of year. As the days become shorter and we’re exposed to fewer hours of daylight, our bodies produce more melatonin—which makes us feel sleepy. To avoid feeling tired and sluggish during the cold season, make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep and try to stick to a fixed bedtime every day. Tip: don’t be tempted to overheat your bedroom, because you don’t want to wake up sweating an hour after you doze off. For more advice on how to get a good night’s rest, check out this previous Rituals article.
5. Slurp your way through the winter blues
Along with the colder temps comes the perfect time to warm our bodies from the inside out with nourishing soups and broths. To cook up a comforting winter soup, look for hearty and healthy ingredients such as root vegetables, chickpeas, carrot and sweet potato.
6. Care for your skin (especially your hands)
The cold weather can be harsh on our skin, so it’s important to care for your skin during winter. To avoid dryness and flakiness, swap your lightweight moisturiser for a more intensive product. And that goes for your body too – switch to deeply nourishing shower foams or shower oils that won’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Because our hands are exposed to the cold a lot, they especially need extra care and protection during the winter season. For soft and supple hands, make sure you always carry a hand balm to keep them hydrated.
7. Plant a winter garden
Fresh air and fresh veggies do wonders for our well-being. That’s why planting a winter garden is such a great way to break out of your cold-weather hibernation and enjoy the outdoors. While the rest of your garden lies in wait for spring, there are plenty of vegetables you can plant during the cold months of the year—edibles like garlic, leeks, onions, radishes, kale and spinach are not just super healthy, they’re also winter hardy.
8. Unplug from your phone
Because we’re less active during winter, we resort to mindlessly scrolling through social media on our smartphones more easily. By constantly checking our phone, we’re setting ourselves up for trouble. Our smartphones can heighten winter depression, keep us locked indoors and mess with our sleep. So, every now and then, lose your phone and lose yourself in a good book instead.
9. Play board games with friends and family
As the nights grow darker and colder, put some logs on the fire and gather around the table for a good old-fashioned board game. Board games bring us together. They’re the perfect antidote for winter melancholy, social isolation and excessive screen time. And playing board games doesn’t just make us happier—it makes us brainier, too. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that playing board games keeps our brain young and protects us from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. So if we incorporate board games into our winter routine, there will only be winners!