Winter Survival Guide
While some people love winter (teach me how!) many of us can struggle with it, particularly being a season where it sometimes seems like every second person you see is sick.
I’m still somewhat cautious about sharing too much about food here - it’s such a personalised and highly charged topic for many people, and beyond a real love of food, cooking and grocery shopping (really), I am not qualified in anything other than my own excitement for it, and I appreciate all the different schools of thought you can apply to diet.
However something I have been noticing is how much better I feel when including raw foods in what I eat. By this I absolutely do not mean raw vegan cheesecake or rice made of cauliflower (please, leave rice alone!) but instead juices in the morning and salads with lunch and dinner. I shied away from eating raw foods for many years, mainly, if I’m being totally honest, because it felt ‘basic’ and once a yoga teacher (with no actual knowledge of Ayurveda) told me I was really Vata and so should eat porridge for the rest of my life (which is my idea of a total nightmare so I’m glad I never did).
Nothing here is new, it's simply a collection of reminders to myself you might find helpful too.
Keep Things Moving
Winter is asking us to rest more, eat warmer, denser foods and spend more time cuddled on the couch under blankets so lets honour that, please - but just like partying every night and only eating watermelon in summer - you have to know when you’ve swung the pendulum too far into the season and when it’s time to veer back, or ideally, add a touch of summer into every winter day.
The opposite of movement is stagnation and stagnation causes all sorts of things that have to do with feeling icky on a physical, emotional or energetic level. And its easy to see (as I type this under like five blankets) how all the thick layers, artificial heat, and heavy foods can lead to feeling stagnant as hell.
Eat Great Food
Use fresh herbs on top of soups, or eat a few raw salad leaves with your roasted vegetables and also, eat foods you really love.
Heidi Swanson’s Immunity Soup - in no way traditionally Japanese, but tastes so good with miso and just cooked broccoli
Roasted Pumpkin Soup - swap miso for curry paste and add a little coconut cream to mix it up
A Very Good Lentil Soup - sometimes I omit the tomato and its still crazy good
The Best Vegan Ramen - heavy and a little junky, but so warm and delicious. the kimchi & beansprout toppings are essential
Congee and gomashio - super warming but also hydrating and gentle on digestion
Despite the Australian governments best efforts to tell us the sun is going to kill us all (lol) turns out it’s actually the reason we’re all alive. Funny that. So obviously don’t go out and roast yourself tomorrow if you’ve been wearing sunscreen your entire life but making time to be in the sun during winter will make you happier and raise your immunity and its 100% FREE. It’s also the cheapest and most effective treatment for winter excema so please, I know it’s hard, but go outside.
Although we need more rest and time to curl up in Winter, it’s also essential to keep this internal movement and fire going. How much and what time of exercise depends on so many things - health issues, your human design energy type, injury etc, but try to keep up a regular schedule of exercise and if you’re not able to sweat without depleting yourself, make extra time for sauna, stretching and massage to keep everything flowing. You will feel better, I promise.
Move the Energy in your House
I know it’s cold but open the windows - all of them! Even for a few hours. Wash and change the sheets. Get rid of all the food in your fridge that you are never going to eat or is going bad yes including those jars of whatever that have been in there for months or is it years now? Take out the garbage, vaccume the floors, wipe down all the surfaces and burn some natural incense / sage or palo santo. Thats better.
Create a Solid Foundation
Sleep 7-9 hours, take time to practice True Rest every day (aka take a break from Netflix or reading to give your body what it really needs - rest without stimulation) and drink overnight herbal infusions of nettle and oatstraw to keep your energy levels up.
Take an extra Restorative or Yin (or both class) every week
Not because you need to add another thing to your to-do list, but because you deserve it and when you go to a class you can’t be on your phone or computer or get distracted halfway through. You’re locked in for 60-90 minutes of surrender to rest. You need it.
It can be harder to remember to drink water in winter but especially if you’re in a building with heating, you need way more water than you think. Drink it warm, or as a tea (but remember we tend to drink slower if the water is hot). If you’re using a heater at home, put a large bowl (or three) of water nearby to add moisture back into the room. I also use an aroma diffusor to add mist back into the air, AND I spray my face purified water throughout the day because I’m a freak (or a houseplant).
Let Yourself Get Sick
I mean, don’t go and rub up against the sniffling person on the bus but also, you can do literally all the health supporting, self love supporting things and still get sick. You can take the right supplements and eat the most beautiful medicinal foods and sometimes, it’s still going to get you. But you know what? It’s okay to get sick. It happens. You did not fail at being healthy. You did not fuck up. You got sick. So give in. Take the day off. Take the week off. It’s not a big deal. Sleep as much as you can and only when there is no sleep left in you, then indulge in all the shitty tv and movies (but while you’re in the thick of it, as little screen time as possible gives the body the most energy for healing) and let the people around you take care of you like you deserve.
It’s winter, after all.
And if you’re in Sydney, you might like to come along to Winter Deep Rest. Two hours of yogic snuggling. My advice: bring your hot water bottle (and your bestie).