So you’ve swapped your favorite crop top and sandals for cozy outerwear and chunky boots (or, if you’re like me, a weekly rotation of various sweatsuits). That’s right: Winter is officially here. Just like our wardrobes, our wellness routines—from skincare to self-care to nutrition and exercise—should look different come winter. Our bodies need different things every season; the food, workouts, and self-care your body craves in winter is going to be different from what it needs in the summer. So it’s time to switch up your wellness routine to support what your body needs during colder months and shorter days. Read on for ways to help “winterize” your daily regimen for a healthy, stress-free season.
Now that we’re experiencing shorter days and less vitamin D than we grew accustomed to during the summer, it’s natural to feel some winter blues, AKA you may feel a little more lethargic and tired this time of year. Because there are fewer hours of daylight, the body produces more melatonin (a sleep hormone) this time of year, and chances are, your sleep habits have been affected by the time change. Instead of fighting the fatigue, think of this season as a time for rest and recovery, and adapt your self-care routine accordingly. Personally, I love winding down with a hot, candlelit bath, but if baths aren’t your cup of tea, you can also treat yourself to a fresh set of luxurious sheets, perfect your nighttime routine, or just get to bed earlier.
Focus on relationships
Yes, even caring for yourself includes tending to relationships. Connection is an important part of a wellness routine because fulfilling relationships help improve our happiness and overall satisfaction in life. Winter is the perfect time to prioritize connection because of the holiday season, but your social calendar can extend well beyond New Year’s Eve. Make extra plans throughout every week to catch up with your mom on the phone or have a movie night in with your best friend. If cabin fever is getting the best of you, grab your sister to go for a drive or test your skating skills at an ice rink with your friend group (which also counts as exercise!). Whatever your self-care routine looks like, it should spark joy and help you reset so you can show up as your best for yourself and also for the people you surround yourself with.
Ditch the raw foods and cold meals
During the summer, nothing hits the spot for me like biting into a juicy piece of watermelon, noshing on a crisp salad, or sipping on a refreshing smoothie. But when the temperature drops and we’re in the thick of winter, you may notice a change in your appetite and your body craving warm, grounding meals like soup, pasta, and warm figgy pudding. Sound familiar? With dreary weather and less exposure to sun, it should come as no surprise that we find ourselves reaching for heartier, comforting foods to boost our mood and warm up our bodies. Remember that salads and smoothies aren’t the only healthy foods. Get creative with nourishing stews, soups, and roasted veggies instead.
Incorporate seasonal produce
If you don’t already know, eating in-season is so important. Luckily, winter offers many delicious, flavorful produce. For fruit, try apples, pomegranates, oranges, persimmons, and pears. As for vegetables, load up on butternut squash, sweet potatoes, kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, and beets, just to name a few. Listen, if you can’t live without your avocado toast or love eating mangos year-round, it doesn’t mean you should ditch produce that is in season during spring or summer. The most important thing is to eat your fruits and veggies, no matter what they are (and you should always enjoy the food you eat!). Instead of replacing, think of adding winter produce. For example, top your avocado toast with pomegranate seeds or make a side dish of roasted winter veggies that will make any meal more delicious.
Honor your sweet tooth
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all the goodies that are synonymous with this time of year: cookies, apple pie, eggnog, Starbucks holiday drinks. Instead of depriving yourself of sweet potato casserole and worrying about how many calories you’re consuming from holiday leftovers, take the time to enjoy the flavors of the foods you love and focus on connecting and celebrating with loved ones. Bottom line: If you’re craving sweets more during this time of year, don’t panic. Reach for antioxidant-rich dark chocolate or naturally sweet foods like bananas and raw honey. But also indulge in your mom’s famous cookies or a cup of hot chocolate when you want to, totally guilt-free. As with any time of the year, being mindful is key, so check in consistently with how your body feels.
Know that resting is just as good for you as movement
Whether you’re busy with work deadlines and social plans or the aforementioned winter blues have left you feeling tired all the time, workouts can easily fall by the wayside come colder weather. The thought of leaving your warm, cozy bed can deter even the most hardcore workout enthusiast, and guess what? That’s OK. If your body isn’t feeling like going on a three-mile jog or doing a HIIT class, don’t force it. Instead, move your body in ways that feel natural and nourishing, like going for a walk to get some fresh air, doing a yoga flow, or stretching before bed. Also, remember that rest is just as good for the body as exercise, so make relaxation a key part of your exercise routine if that’s what you’re craving. Your body knows what it needs; you just have to listen to it.
Adjust your favorite workouts for the weather (but get outside when you can)
Are you typically a runner who loves to hit the pavement? You don’t need to forego workouts altogether when the weather drops. Instead, try these tips to make the outdoors more bearable or hit the gym for some sprints on a treadmill. If you’re more into yoga, nothing feels better in the winter than moving your body in a heated room, so opt for some hot yoga (turning up the heat in your apartment or placing a space heater near your yoga mat counts too). Since it’s important to always enjoy the type of workouts you’re doing, adjust what you love best to be indoors while still getting outside for walks or jogs to enjoy the fresh air when you can.
Try hacks to stay motivated
And if it’s lack of motivation or the continuous rotation of Hallmark Christmas movies playing that’s keeping you from breaking a sweat (same), use small tricks and tips to stay motivated to move your body regularly enough to feel healthy. For example, fit in multiple movement sessions of five minutes or less throughout the day (it adds up!), multitask like doing bicep curls while on conference calls, and don’t underestimate what a cute, new fitspo outfit can do to get you motivated to move.
Add more layers
Let’s face it (pun intended), our sun-kissed and supple complexions are now dry and lacking that fresh-from-a-facial look we had going for us during the summer. So what better time to hit refresh on your skincare lineup? Like any fashionista would advise when it comes to dressing for the cold, layering is your friend. And the same goes for your skincare regimen during the winter months. Add a cleansing oil into your routine, pat on an additional hydrating serum, use a thicker moisturizer, and top with a hydrating oil to seal it all in. Even if you don’t want to totally change your skincare routine season to season, a couple added basics can make all the difference.
Try a humidifier
Many of us are experiencing dryness and irritation from all the time spent indoors this time of year. Consider buying a humidifier for your bedroom, especially if you heavily rely on central air conditioning and heating to manipulate the environment of your home or live in a dry climate—it’ll be your new best friend (goodbye, dryness!). A humidifier can help add a little extra moisture in the air while you’re sleeping and hopefully add a little extra hydration and plumpness to your skin.
Focus on skincare from within too
While you’re at it, load your plate with healthy fats (think: avocado, wild salmon, walnuts), which can help regulate your skin’s oil production and soothe dry skin. Achieving radiant, J.Lo-like skin (talk about a major glow) is not just about what you put on it after all. It’s also about adding nutrient-rich foods to your diet.
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