With the holidays sneaking up on us, it can be easy to lose track of self-care come the winter months. This year, the winter solstice occurs on Tuesday, Dec. 21, marking the official start of winter. It is simultaneously the shortest day and of the year in the Northern Hemisphere while also being the busiest of times. In many traditions and countries, December marks a time of gathering and celebration, however, it can also be marked with seasonal obligations and stress.
Here are our tips for having the best winter yet!
1. Get outside
While it may be counterintuitive to spend time outdoors when temperatures drop, some vitamin D can do wonders for your immune system, as well as your mood. You can get vitamin D naturally from sunlight, so whether you work from home or commute to the office, a 10- or 15-minute walk around the block can be beneficial. Make sure to dress warmly and integrate layers into your wardrobe.
2. Protect your skin
Like most people, you might be of the opinion that SPF is only for summer months when the sun is strong and beating down on you. However, wearing sunscreen in the wintertime is a must. The sun’s rays can damage your skin even on rainy or cloudy days.
Cold temperatures can wreak havoc on skin and lips. Couple that with artificial heat indoors, and you’re sure to experience some dehydration on the surface. Change up your skincare routine by finding an oil-based moisturizer or a hydrating serum that can help alleviate dryness. Make sure to use a balm to prevent dry and cracked lips. You might also consider using a humidifier inside your home to help add moisture to the air.
3. Get moving
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind with shorter days and a hectic holiday schedule, but if you maintain consistency and keep it as part of your routine, you’ll find it much easier to keep the momentum going. In Ayurveda, the 5,000-year-old ancient Indian medical belief system, the winter season is associated with rest and doing less. The idea is much like a bear who goes into hibernation. Know that you won’t be as active as during spring and summer, when the days are longer. Instead, focus on shorter workouts, including yoga and stretching as well as more rest days in between.
4. Eat for the season
The holidays will elicit all types of temptations in the form of carbohydrate-heavy pastries and desserts. However, know that there are healthy seasonal fruits and vegetables that are ripe with nutrients and health-boosting qualities. Stop by your local farmers market or supermarket and look for dark leafy greens such as kale, swiss chard as well as winter squash, citrus and pomegranate, which are great as side dishes or even entrees.
5. A time for reflection
December’s full moon is known as the Cold Moon, derived from a Native American Mohawk name that describes the bitter and freezing temperatures during this time. It’s a time when nature is dormant and resting, signaling for us to also pause and reflect. So instead of getting caught up in the rush and bustle of the season, truly slow down and actually enjoy it. December is a great month to start your meditation practice.
6. Burn essential oils
Angelica essential oil, an herby and fresh scent, is believed to aid in digestion, boost immunity and calm the nervous system. This oil would be the perfect addition to your December wellness routine. Another great one is Vetiver, a woodsy aroma to help circulation and create grounding in times of stress.
7. Get good sleep
Getting sufficient rest is crucial to health and well-being. Most people should be getting 6 to 8 hours of sleep at night. If you have a hard time falling asleep, make sure to turn off computer screens, TV screens and electronic devices at least 2 hours prior to sleep. The light being emitted from these devices can excite the brain and decrease sleep quality. Try to go to bed at the same time every day to create a solid routine. Your body will thank you for it and you will wake up ready to greet the day.
8. Gratitude and giving
A feeling of gratitude is beneficial year-round. By giving thanks and appreciation to all that’s around you in daily life can inspire yourself as well as others. If you have the time or means, consider paying it forward by either volunteering or donating new and used items you no longer use.
Winter can seem barren and frigid with Mother Nature resting, but it can also be the best season ever as you work on taking care of yourself, your family and friends and others.