I'm the first to put my hand up and acknowledge that winter isn't my most favourite season of the year. Give me the longer, warmer days of summer any time and I'll be like a kid at Christmas. But winter, yeah meh!
But I've had to handle the jandal across the years, because living in New Zealand, well, we experience a true winter. And even here in the 'winterless north', yeah, we still get the cooler temperatures and experience more bleak and miserable days than my genes are happy with.
So, across my time I've had to reframe my existence during the winter months because negativity isn't a good mind space to occupy – in fact it lends to a weaker immune system which I actively try to avoid.
Thus, I ensure I have my trusty 'Nifty Nine' to fall back on. My 'Nifty Nine' are tools to combat winter. They help me (and hopefully now you) to bring my attention to the many things that can make me feel alive, enhance my energy, raise my vibration and mindset, and set me up with more power and durability to sustain my winter days with greater zest and gusto.
The Nifty Nine to combat winter
1) Make your own Rainbow
. Colour therapy is absolutely a thing. When winter is such a 'grey' season, we can combat the energy-drain of the cooler temps and shorter days by bringing in some razzle and dazzle with boosted colour bombs.
Be this with the clothes you choose, or even just the accessories you opt to wear (for instance, a groovy scarf), being wrapped in colour immediately enhances our mood and thus our energy. Or purchase some colourful new cushions to put on your couch or bed. Embrace colour!
2) Light the fire . It's a primal response. The magic and content you feel when positioning yourself next to a glowing ebb of flames, or the wonderful feel of being mesmerised by the flickering flames.
If you don't have your own one – borrow a friend's, or a cafe's. Or even just light a couple of candles for yourself or your loved ones. As well as the charmed feelings we get from the warmth and the fire show, it also just promotes stillness and quiet – both of which contribute to feelings of restoration and regeneration within themselves.
3) Vitamin D and daylight
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. Exposing ourselves to the first light of the morning helps to balance our circadian rhythms but it also boosts our energy for the day. Allowing the middle of the day sun to kiss our skin for 10 or 15 minutes through the winter months is crucial for our vitamin D levels which promote greater levels of immunity and mental wellbeing too. The brightness of natural daylight can help us to feel awake, alive, and keep our focus en point for our day too.
4) Grounding/ earthing . Similar to the point above, the natural gifts of the Earth are perhaps some of our best medicinal boosters – both physically and mentally/emotionally. Putting our bare foot or bodies against the natural Earth allows us to absorb the natural negative ions that the Earth secretes.
These negative ions are fantastic at providing the balance of the positive charge our body takes on from high stress, electromagnetic fields and day to day living. They enable us to recollect our calm and happy, and provide us with natural immune boosters.
5) Connections with positive people . At a time of year when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is very real, and where more of us experience temperamental mood patterns, it's so crucial for our health and functioning to surround ourselves with the love, vibrance, positivity, creativity, wisdom, and comradeship of beautiful folk.
Be they friends or family, work colleagues or neighbours, the oxytocin hit we get from positive connections boosts our immune system magnificently and just helps us to feel fantastic!
6) Move happy . Quite possibly one of my favourite winter blues busters is to move our bodies in the ways that make our minds and bodies feel uplifted, energised, and content. We have such an abundance of exercise modalities available to us in our modern times – there are options for everyone!
Choose the things that make YOU feel awesome. And if you enjoy exercising with others – find someone else who loves the same stuff you do.
7) Create a winter project . Or start a new hobby. I set out with a challenge to do 20 things in 2020 that I'd never done before. One of those things was build a big Lego kit. So that is my winter project and I tap away most days and just do a little bit.
Because we have shorter days, I tend to find I need something to fill my longer evenings – it distracts me from work. But consider something you may like to bring into your life, something that you've often thought about but not yet stepped toward yet. Get excited about something new – it's a great distraction!
8) Winter mood foods . You just can't beat a hearty vegetable or chicken soup that's been brewing in the slow cooker all day. Nor the smell of freshly baked cheese scones. Or a hot and steamy apple pie in the oven.
You'll have your favourites just as I have mine. And it's a great time to explore the healthier options of some of your favourites too, or to simply just spend time finding your own Martha Stewart and allow your own flavours to come out.
9) Lymphatic stimulation . Think of it as the best cross between being pampered and having some incredible healing and immune-boosting love. Our lymphatic system is our bodies' primary means of waste and toxin transport, and this gets clogged (and in most of us it is) it can lead to ill health, pain, disease, fatigue and more.
Winter is such a great time to check in with a lymphatic practitioner and get your own lymphatic fluid flowing more freely – possibly one of the best boosts you can do for your own immune system, and it'll make you feel like you're being pampered at the same time.
• Corinne Austin is a health and movement coach (fitfix.co.nz).