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Winter Wellness

Winter Wellness: Self-Care Tips for a Healthy Mind and Body

Jun 7, 2023

Winter brings cooler temperatures and shorter days, creating an atmosphere that calls for special attention to our well-being. The colder weather and change in daylight hours can have an impact on our mental and physical health. To ensure a healthy mind and body during this season, it is essential to prioritise winter wellness self-care. In this blog, we will explore some effective tips specifically tailored for the winter months in New Zealand.

tussock with snowy mountain in the background

1. Embrace Outdoor Adventures

New Zealand’s breath-taking landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor adventures, even during the winter months. Embracing outdoor activities in winter not only allows you to experience the natural beauty of the country but also offers numerous benefits for your mind and body.

There are an extensive network of hiking and walking trails that cater to various skill levels. Bundle up in warm clothing, grab your sturdy shoes, and explore the stunning scenery that awaits you. From coastal walks to forest trails and alpine tracks, there’s something for everyone. Not only will you engage in physical activity, but you’ll also breathe in the fresh, crisp air and witness the unique landscapes that New Zealand has to offer.

If you’re up for a thrilling adventure, head to the ski fields. With both the North and South Islands offering excellent ski resorts, you can hit the slopes and indulge in snow sports. Whether you’re a seasoned skier or a beginner looking to learn, the ski fields provide a fun and exhilarating way to stay active during winter while enjoying the snow-covered mountains.

The coastal areas are equally captivating. Put on your warm layers and take a leisurely stroll along the beaches. Feel the invigorating sea breeze against your face, listen to the soothing sound of crashing waves, and enjoy the solitude of the quieter beaches during this season. It’s a refreshing way to connect with nature and engage in light exercise.

If you’re an avid cyclist, don’t let the cooler weather stop you from enjoying your favourite activity. There are a multitude of cycling and mountain biking trails, both on-road and off-road. Explore the scenic routes, forests, and parks while getting your heart pumping.

Remember to prepare adequately for outdoor adventures during winter. Dress in layers to stay warm, wear appropriate footwear, and carry essential items such as water, snacks, and a map. Check weather conditions and trail safety information before embarking on any outdoor activity.

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2. Enjoy Seasonal Produce

Winter brings an abundance of delicious seasonal produce that can be a treat for your taste buds and a boost for your overall well-being. Embracing and incorporating these seasonal foods into your diet can provide numerous health benefits and add variety to your meals, not to mention keeping your food bills down.

Now is the perfect time to indulge in juicy citrus fruits like oranges, mandarins, lemons, and grapefruits. Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, these fruits help boost your immune system and protect against common winter illnesses.

This is the season for hearty root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, beetroot, and kumara. These nutrient-rich veggies are a great source of vitamins, fibre, and essential minerals. Roast them, turn them into comforting soups, or add them to stews and casseroles for a warm and satisfying meal that nourishes your body from within.

Don’t forget about leafy greens even in the colder months. Greens such as kale, spinach, and silverbeet are packed with vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron and folate. Incorporate them into salads, stir-fries, or sauté them as a side dish to add a nutritional boost to your meals and support your overall well-being.

Brassicas, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, thrive at this time of year in New Zealand. These vegetables are not only rich in vitamins and minerals but also contain beneficial compounds that support detoxification and reduce inflammation in the body.

Winter squash varieties such as butternut squash and pumpkin, are a seasonal favourite. They are rich in fibre, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. Use them to make comforting soups, roasted vegetable medleys, or even as a base for creamy sauces and pasta dishes. Their vibrant colours and sweet flavours can bring warmth to your meals.

While some herbs may slow down during winter, others like rosemary, thyme, and sage thrive. These aromatic herbs add depth and flavour to your dishes while providing antioxidants and essential oils that support your immune system. Incorporate them into roasts, soups, and stews to enhance the flavours of your creations.

By enjoying the seasonal produce, you not only get to savour the flavours and textures of these foods but also reap the nutritional benefits they offer.

glass of water

3. Stay Hydrated

It’s essential to prioritise hydration for your overall well-being. Proper hydration supports various bodily functions, helps maintain energy levels, and promotes healthy skin. Here are some tips to stay hydrated during winter:

Water is Vital
Regardless of the season, water remains a fundamental component of staying hydrated. Aim to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to ensure optimal hydration. Keep a water bottle with you and take regular sips to stay refreshed. If you struggle to drink plain water, infuse it with slices of lemon, cucumber, or herbs for a hint of flavour.

Warm Herbal Teas
Winter provides an opportunity to enjoy a variety of warm and comforting beverages. Incorporate herbal teas into your routine to hydrate while indulging in soothing flavours. Opt for caffeine-free options like chamomile, peppermint, or ginger tea. These not only provide hydration but also offer potential health benefits such as aiding digestion and calming the mind.

Broths and Soups
Warm soups and broths can contribute to your hydration while providing nourishment. Vegetable or bone broths, clear soups, or hearty stews contain water and electrolytes that help replenish your body’s fluids. Choose homemade options or read the labels of store-bought soups to ensure they contain minimal additives and sodium.

Moisture-Rich Foods
Some foods have high water content and can contribute to your hydration. Include moisture-rich foods in your meals, such as juicy fruits like watermelon, oranges, and berries. Vegetables like cucumbers, celery, and tomatoes are also hydrating options. Snack on these foods throughout the day to supplement your hydration efforts.

Remember that the sensation of thirst can be diminished during the colder months, leading to reduced water intake. Therefore, it’s important to be proactive and make a conscious effort to drink enough fluids. Keep track of your water intake, set reminders if needed, and listen to your body’s signals to ensure you stay adequately hydrated.

Avoid excessive consumption of sugary beverages, as they can lead to dehydration. Alcoholic beverages may also contribute to dehydration, so it’s advisable to drink in moderation and balance any alcohol intake with sufficient water.

By staying hydrated, you support your body’s essential functions, maintain energy levels, and promote overall well-being. Make hydration a priority, and reap the benefits of feeling refreshed, energised, and healthy.

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4. Engage in Indoor Exercise

When the weather outside is chilly, it’s important to find alternative ways to stay active and maintain a healthy body. Engaging in indoor exercise allows you to continue prioritising your fitness goals and reaping the benefits of physical activity.

You don’t need fancy equipment to get moving. Many effective exercises can be done using your body weight alone. Incorporate exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks into a circuit-style workout. You can also follow along with online workout videos or fitness apps that offer a wide range of guided routines to suit your preferences and fitness level.

Embrace the mindful practices of yoga and Pilates. These low-impact exercises not only improve flexibility and strength but also promote relaxation and stress reduction. Roll out your yoga mat and follow online tutorials or join virtual classes that guide you through different poses and sequences. Focus on deep breathing, stretching, and connecting with your body and mind.

Put on your favourite music and let loose with a dance or aerobic workout. Dancing is a fun and engaging way to get your heart rate up and improve cardiovascular fitness. You can follow dance routines online or join virtual dance classes. If dancing isn’t your style, aerobic workouts like Zumba or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can provide a similar calorie-burning and cardiovascular boost.

Invest in a stationary bike or use an indoor cycling machine to enjoy a vigorous cardiovascular workout without leaving your home. Cycling helps improve endurance, strengthens leg muscles, and provides a low-impact workout option. Follow along with virtual cycling classes or create your own playlist to accompany your ride.

Consider joining a local gym or fitness studio that offers a variety of indoor classes. From strength training and cardio workouts to group fitness classes like step aerobics or kickboxing, you’ll have access to professional instructors and a supportive community. Participating in classes can provide structure, motivation, and a sense of camaraderie during your fitness journey.

Remember to warm up before exercising, regardless of the type of activity you choose. This helps prevent injuries and prepares your body for the workout ahead. Stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle nearby, and listen to your body’s signals to avoid overexertion.

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5. Prioritise Restful Sleep

Amidst the busyness of daily life, it’s crucial to prioritise restful sleep. Quality sleep plays a vital role in maintaining overall well-being, supporting immune function, and enhancing cognitive function. Here are some tips to help you achieve a restful night’s sleep:

Establish a Sleep Routine
Set a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and promotes a more restful sleep. Create a pre-sleep routine that includes relaxing activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle stretching or meditation to signal to your body that it’s time to unwind.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet to promote optimal sleep conditions. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine to block out any external disturbances. Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows, and bedding that support your preferred sleeping position and ensure proper spinal alignment.

Limit Screen Time Before Bed
The blue light emitted by electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with your sleep quality. Avoid using electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Instead, engage in relaxing activities like reading a book or listening to calming music to help your mind and body prepare for sleep.

Manage Stress and Anxiety
Winter can bring its share of stress and anxiety. Prioritise stress management techniques to promote better sleep. Engage in activities that help you unwind and relax, such as practicing mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, or journaling. If worries or racing thoughts keep you awake, try writing them down before bed to help clear your mind.

Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
During the colder months, ensure your bedroom is warm and cosy. Use extra blankets or invest in a good-quality duvet or comforter to keep you comfortably warm throughout the night. Wear breathable and comfortable sleepwear that suits the temperature and your personal preference.

Avoid Stimulants and Heavy Meals
Limit consumption of stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine, especially in the evening, as they can interfere with sleep. Additionally, avoid heavy, rich, or spicy meals close to bedtime, as they may cause discomfort or indigestion, making it harder to fall asleep peacefully.

Exercise Regularly
Engaging in regular exercise during the day can contribute to better sleep at night. However, avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime, as it may increase alertness and make it more difficult to fall asleep. Aim for moderate-intensity exercise earlier in the day, allowing enough time for your body to wind down before bed.

By prioritising restful sleep, you allow your body and mind to rejuvenate and restore. Incorporate these sleep-promoting habits into your routine, creating an environment and mindset that encourages deep and restorative sleep. With adequate sleep, you’ll wake up refreshed, energised, and ready to embrace the day ahead.

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6. Supporting a strong immune system

During this season, it’s important to prioritise the support and strengthening of your immune system. A robust immune system helps defend against common winter illnesses and keeps you feeling healthy.

Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses. Incorporate stress-management techniques into your daily routine. Engage in activities that help reduce stress levels, such as practicing mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Prioritising self-care and finding healthy ways to manage stress can have a positive impact on your immune system.

Adopting good hygiene practices can help prevent the spread of germs and protect your immune system. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or touching your face. Use hand sanitiser when soap is not readily available. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets.

Although the winter season may lead to social isolation, it’s important to stay socially connected with loved ones and maintain a strong support network. Positive social interactions and emotional well-being contribute to a healthier immune system. Find ways to connect with others, whether it’s through phone calls, video chats, in-person gatherings.

Consult with a healthcare professional about supplements that may support your immune system. Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and probiotics are among the supplements commonly recommended for immune health. However, it’s important to remember that supplements should complement a healthy lifestyle and should not replace a varied and balanced diet.

Taking care of your overall well-being is essential for immune health. Prioritise self-care activities that bring you joy and relaxation. This may include engaging in hobbies, practicing self-reflection, setting aside time for activities that recharge you, and creating a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle. Remember to listen to your body and give yourself the rest and relaxation you need.

By implementing these strategies, you can support a strong and resilient immune system. Keep in mind that everyone’s immune system is unique, and it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised guidance and recommendations.

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7. Cultivate Mindfulness and Relaxation

It’s beneficial to prioritise mindfulness and relaxation to nurture your mental and emotional well-being. Cultivating these practices can help reduce stress, improve mood, and enhance overall resilience.

Set aside a few minutes each day to engage in meditation or deep breathing exercises. Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can sit or lie down. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and let go of any racing thoughts. Allow yourself to be fully present in the moment, observing your breath and sensations in your body. Deep breathing exercises can help activate the relaxation response, promoting a sense of calm and inner peace.

Take advantage of the crisp winter air and go for mindful walks. Engage your senses by noticing the sensations of your feet touching the ground, the coolness of the air on your skin, and the sights and sounds around you. Be fully present in each step, letting go of distractions and connecting with nature. Mindful walking can help clear your mind, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being 

Dedicate time to journaling your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Set aside a quiet space where you can reflect and write without distractions. Write freely and without judgment, allowing your thoughts to flow onto the pages. Journaling provides an outlet for self-expression, helps process emotions, and promotes self-awareness. You can also incorporate gratitude journaling by writing down things you are grateful for each day, fostering a positive mindset.

Practice mindful eating by savouring each bite and paying attention to the flavours, textures, and smells of your food. Slow down and engage your senses fully during mealtimes. Minimise distractions such as screens and take time to appreciate the nourishment your food provides. Mindful eating promotes a healthier relationship with food, reduces overeating, and allows you to fully enjoy and appreciate your meals.

Explore various relaxation techniques that resonate with you. This could include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, aromatherapy, or listening to soothing music. Find what brings you a sense of calm and relaxation and incorporate these practices into your daily routine. Engaging in relaxation techniques can help reduce stress, promote better sleep, and enhance overall well-being.

Take regular breaks from electronic devices to unplug and recharge. Set boundaries around your screen time and create tech-free zones or periods during the day. Use this time to engage in activities that nourish your mind and soul, such as reading a book, pursuing a hobby, or spending quality time with loved ones. Disconnecting from screens allows you to be more present, reduce mental clutter, and foster deeper connections.

Incorporate mindful activities into your daily life. This could include practicing yoga, engaging in creative pursuits like painting or crafting, or spending time in nature. Choose activities that bring you joy, allow you to be fully present, and cultivate a sense of relaxation and mindfulness.

By incorporating mindfulness and relaxation practices into your daily routine, you can reduce stress, enhance your overall well-being. Find what resonates with you and make these practices a priority in your life. Remember, each moment is an opportunity to cultivate mindfulness and embrace the present with open awareness.

It’s crucial to prioritise self-care and well-being. By implementing these winter wellness tips, you can support a healthy mind and body and make the most of the colder months.

Remember, self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. By taking care of yourself during the winter season, you can thrive and embrace the unique joys and challenges that come with it. Stay mindful, listen to your body’s needs, and make choices that contribute to your overall wellness.

So, as the winter unfolds, let this be a season of self-care, growth, and inner nourishment. Embrace the beauty of the winter landscape, savour the flavours of seasonal produce, prioritise rest and rejuvenation, support your immune system, and cultivate mindfulness in your everyday life. By doing so, you’ll navigate winter with a healthy mind and body, ready to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead.

Richard Kellow

Richard Kellow

Richard is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and Virtual Gastric Band Practitioner based in Rotorua in the gorgeous Bay of Plenty. With his personal experience and training from the UK, US, and New Zealand, Richard is a living testament to the power of hypnosis.

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