The benefits of winter
Summer is such a glorious time of year. We feel relaxed, there is an abundance of daylight to play in, our skin has the radiant glow of photon exposure. The days start to get a little cooler, sandals become shoes, shoes become boots. As the daylight slinks away to rest, so do we. Becoming less active, we layer our clothing to protect ourselves from the elements. Craving warm foods and comfort and sleep. The winter brings with her many blessings: stillness, reflection, rejuvenation.
I wanted to write a post about the gifts of winter because it has been 2 years since I had one. Spending last year in Hawaii meant that I didn't experience the decrescendo of the seasons. For me, it was always summer and I loved it! But this year the arrival of winter hits me especially hard. I am uninspired to exercise, I feel drawn to stay in my house, drink warm liquids and rest. And sometimes I feel bad about it. I feel confused. Where is my desire to envigorate my body, move my muscles and feel ALIVE? Why don't I want to consume salad like a human vacuum anymore? Somedays I don't even leave the house. Am I depressed... NO! ITS WINTER!
1. Eating For Sport
Of course as a doctor and avid raw food enthusiast I don't generally condone eating tons of food. I think as a population we need to eat LESS food. However, seasonally, winter is the time to eat! There is benefit from storing up nutrients, eating calorie dense meals and giving the body a break. Foods rich in vitamins, minerals and good fats replenishes our tissues which have been on the go since summer. This includes our brain! Although it is important to do weight bearing exercise to have healthy bones, it is also important to relax. Giving our adrenal glands, brain and muscles a chance to rejuvenate is an important part of the seasonal cycle. Brightly coloured foods rich in antioxidants plus good fats, like omega 3's feed our brain and help to decrease inflammation in the body. Dark leafy veggies like kale, spinach and romaine lettuce are mineral dense. Peppers and oranges are high in vitamin C which is highly concentrated in the adrenal glands. Incorporating warming foods like ginger, cinnamon and cayenne will light your digestive fires. Winter is a time to enjoy good food.
2. Refuelling Our Heart Chakra
Nothing is better for the heart than being in the company of people you love, who love you in return. When the weather is not so nice, we get permission to stay indoors for hours, talking, laughing, watching movies or youtube clips of regular people trying traditional Jewish food for the first time. It is important to be with the people who reflect back to us the love of the universe. And winter is bursting with abundance of time, warm homes and gentle embraces.
"Its hard to get up in the winter" says everyone. So don't. Take your weekend and vacation time to do the opposite. Lay in bed. Sleep, doze or just relax. The comfort of a warm bed is a great place for personal reflection. Tuning into your heart and saying "hey.. what's up?". Gentle stretching can be done in bed. Intuitive stretching and moving feels great. It brings us back in to the present with what is. No thoughts. Just physical sensation. Resting and relaxing takes us down to a baseline energetic level that we forget about when our lives are fast paced, even in a fun way. Reconnecting with this pace takes stress off our physical bodies and puts us back in touch with the quieter and more subtle parts of who we are.
4. Reading For Pleasure
Another luxury of diminished daylight and colder temperatures is staying indoors to read. Novels, blog posts, science articles or newpapers. It is a luxury to read for pleasure.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – poet Edith Sitwell
Winter has many benefits even without the sun and sand. Whatever you do this winter I hope you relax and do it slowly, accompanied by good food and friends or family.
Have a great holiday season,
Dr. Ariel Jones ND