The Winter Months, dark, cold and damp. At this time of year we Human Beings are more susceptible to tiredness and sluggishness.
As the days become shorter, your sleep and waking cycles become disrupted. Less sunlight means that your brain produces more of a hormone called melatonin, which makes you sleepy. Because the release of this sleep hormone is linked to light and dark, when the sun sets earlier your body also wants to go to bed earlier!
Fortunately, there are many things that we can do to get our energy soaring back to where it belongs !
Get some quality shut-eye !
First things first, we need to sleep. I know that sounds like a no brainer. But our bodies crave rhythm, we need a regulaur sleep pattern, preferably the same “lights out” time, same “get up and shine” time every day.
Getting to bed earlier in the winter months will enable your body to get the rest it needs. If you have trouble going to bed early, try at least to turn down the lights and switch off computers and tvs about 30 minutes before going to bed. The “blue light” emitted by screens makes the body produce less melatonin making it harder to get good, restful shut eye.
Get your 5 a day!There are so many fruits and vegetables full of vitamic C which gives the body more energy and boosts the immune system.
Here are a few :
- Oranges (obviously)
- Green cabbage
- Sweet potatoes
If you find it difficult to get in your five a day, try drinking them in a juice. Here is my favourite juice recipe which I use as a base, then adding other fruits and veg:
2 small carrots
A large stick of celery with the leaves
I then add whatever I want, or need that day: spinach, kale, kiwi fruit. Green juices may not look very appetizing and it's possible that you don't like some of the ingredients, I promise you that this basic recipe will hide pretty much any flavour !
Winter tip : if you're really feeling tired and have a sluggish digestive system at this time of year, try adding some fresh ginger or mint to the recipe, you'll be ready to go in no time !
1 bunch of fresh coriander
1 ripe avocado
A large handful of cress
10g (or more) feta cheese
200g sweet potato
A few pieces of broccoli
A small handful of nuts (walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts)
Pinch of salt, dried chilli flakes, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, freshly crushed balck pepper
Juice of a lime
A sprinkling of sprouts (alfalfa, roquette, leek...whatever you can get your hands on!)
Peel or scrub the sweet potatoes and chop into small pieces. Sprinkle with some salt, pepper and the spices and cook in the oven until slightly crispy. If you want to make this a bit faster, boil the pieces of sweet potato and then gently fry them with the spices and some garlic.
Cook the quinoa following the packet instructions. Lightly boil the broccoli, I like it when it's still a bit crunchy.
Chop the coriander leaves, dice the avocado and feta.
In a pretty bowl (yes, presentation is everything !), once everything is cooked and drained, mix the ingredients gently together,. Place the nuts and sprouts on the top and Hey Presto !
You have a lovely, healthy salad full of goodness.
You have a lovely, healthy salad full of goodness.
Keep yourself hydrated !
Drinking lots of water will help your body flush out any toxins which weigh our system down. I drink at least 4 cups of hot water a day. To many this may seem a bit odd, I am used to getting strange looks when I ask for a cup of tea...without the tea. But there is reason behind my madness ! Hot or warm water hydrates the body 7 times faster than cold water. You can always add a squeez of fresh lemon juice in the morning to boost your digestive system.
An old Indian recipe which helps to hydrate the body :
A few slices of fresh ginger
A tbsp of coriander grains
A tbsp of fennel seeds
1L of water.
Bring this all to boil in a pan for about 12 minutes, leave to cool a bit and there you go !
Give yourself some love !
I spoke a little about self massage in the Affordable Yoga and Fitness December newsletter. I have used this ayurvedic practice for almost a year now and I have certainly noticed a difference to my skin and energy levels.
The best oil to use for everyone is sesame oil (not the grilled stuff !). I like to warm the bottle gently in some hot water before use.
Self massage can take a while, so I've spent some time researching the best parts of the body to rub to get the best results :
- The armpits to stimulate the lymphatic system and get the white blood cells moving properly
- The belly, gets the digestive juices flowing, with oil on your hands start with the stomach area and then stroke down the left side of the tummy, along the bottom and up the right side back to the stomach. This will keep everything flowing in the right direction !
- The thighs, here you have a very big artery so it will helps with circulation. Always massage towards the heart.
- Once you've rubbed in your oil, leave it to “rest” a few minutes and then gently pat yourself down with an old towel and take a warm shower or bath to encourage the oil deeper into the pores.
For those yogis out there, you'll know that we often use sun salutations at the beginning of a practice to warm the body up. They get the heart pumping and the blood flowing throughout the whole body.
The postures included in this beautiful flow lengthen, strengthen and extend many of the main muscles in the body. They stretch the spine forwards and backwards which is important to the wellbeing of the whole body and nervous system.
As Bob Harper (fitness trainer) said :
“You're only as young as your spine is flexible”.
Be gentle with yourself ! As always, but especially at this time of year. Practice gentle yoga, pranayama (breathing techniques), meditation and nice long Savasanas.
Take care of yourself, you are very special !