How to Thrive in Winter... (2)
By Court McCulloch
In the ‘Part One’ (which you can read here!) of How to Thrive in Winter (which you can have a look at here!), we focused on your physical health. How you can nourish the parts of your body that with a little bit of love will help protect you and help you keep thriving through the winter season.
But thriving in winter isn’t just about fueling our bodies with the most nourishing of foods and waters.
It’s also about maintaining a healthy, glowing, light and bright mindset. One that, even when it’s grey and miserable outside, helps us to still be excited about the day (and the season!) ahead.
When winter hits, and we see less natural and sunny light, it’s easy to start feeling unmotivated, irritable, constantly in a ‘low’ mood and lethargic. We also crave foods high in carbohydrates that are going to keep us feeling warm and full… cue a drop in self-love as we feel we’re putting on ‘winter weight’!
Why? Because the changes in season and its accompanying weather patterns (like a lack of sun) changes our hormone production and it also changes our circadian rhythms (our sleep patterns). Plus… it’s a little bit less inviting to go and live out our best life when we’re going to be cold and wet.
There’s actually a condition you might have heard of called ‘SAD’ or Seasonal Affective Disorder, that describes all of the above symptoms. In fact, if it is severe, you can be diagnosed by a doctor – so if you’ve been particularly out of sorts, don’t be afraid to ask for help!
So… how do you beat the winter blues? How do you retain a sunny outlook even when the sun isn’t out?
Here's what I swear by...
Make like a bear and hibernate
Okay... not literally! But winter is the perfect time to really rest and restore.
The sun is coming up later and going down earlier. We're less likely to be out and about and more likely to be tucked up at home. So why not take the opportunity to really nourish those self-care activities?
For me, it includes:
Creating a delicious wind-down routine. Usually, it involves watching an episode or two (okay... three...) of our favourite show with Michael. Depending on how I feel, it might include a good foam roll and stretch. And then I'm in bed early enough to get through a few pages of the book I'm currently reading.
Heating up the house and pulling out my yoga mat to spend some time doing my favourite restorative yoga poses. If I'm feeling super adventurous, I'm ALL about going out to a warm and relaxing yoga class.
Making time for a pamper. Running a bubble bath, lighting some candles and grabbing my laptop or a good book to really chill out. Obviously it also includes a face mask and a hair mask!
Scheduling a family dinner filled with nourishing foods, warming drinks and a lot of laughter.
Take some time to really think about what makes you feel relaxed, restored and unwound. What makes your body and mind feel nourished and calm? What makes you feel ready to drift off into a delicious sleep? What makes you feel warm and content inside?
Light your days up
There's no point putting yourself on auto-pilot for the whole of winter. Just because it's a time to slow down a little doesn't mean we start to exist rather than thrive.
The best way to motivate yourself to jump out of bed, put on that beanie and get out the door? By making sure to schedule all the things that make you feel excited, happy and thriving.
For me, this includes:
Getting out in nature! It might be freezing, but that's nothing a few layers can't fix. Fresh air, a crisp blue sky and nature around me is the ultimate pick me up.
Moving my body in a way that I love. Having grown up a skier, that's my number one go-to. But the rest of the time? Fitting in those restorative yoga sessions and outdoor walks and runs help keep me motivated, grounded, strong and healthy.
Surrounding myself with the people I love being around. Whether it's going for a walk, a coffee, brunch or even organising a girls' night in, being around people that make me feel happy and loved is always good motivation to get out of the house!
Promising myself a little series marathon when I get home from an extra-productive day. If I can smash through my to-do list, I'm allowed to switch off for the evening and binge watch my latest favourite show.
Look at your diary at the moment. Is it just filled with the necessities? Ask yourself this: if I had all the time in the world and could do whatever I wanted, what would I do? Who would I surround myself with? What activities would take up my time? These are the things that should be taking priority in our schedules.
Make yourself FEEL good
Winter is the time we wear lots of layers... and if we're honest, let ourselves go a little bit. But for me, nothing screams 'I'm ready to tackle the day!' than by feeling put together and at my best.
This means so many different things to so many different people. Because we all describe our 'best' as different things.
To work out what it is for you, ask yourself what makes you feel your most confident? What makes you feel your most beautiful? What makes you feel like you could take on the world?
For me, it's a few different things...
Keeping my skin hydrated, nourished and glowing. Beyond drinking enough water and looking after my gut health, I do this by popping on some nourishing moisturiser before I go to bed. The one I choose (Luna Bronze Radiant) is also a vegan tanning lotion and doesn't irritate my eczema at all... it's something I can't live without!
By creating a morning routine. This is a non-negotiable in my life. Beyond it's health benefits (which I spoke about in Part One!), it helps psychologically set me up for the day. Once my morning routine is complete, I'm ready to take on the day! For me, it's having a big stretch, drinking a big glass of warm lemon water, and taking my 'The Beauty Chef' probiotic powder.
Feeling pampered. I usually create my own 'at-home-salon', complete with a manicure and pedicure, hair mask and face mask. I also make sure to stay on top of appointments with my beauty therapist and my hair dresser to make sure I feel pampered and together!
I thrive off being organised. Nothing makes me feel more at my best than having a plan and knowing how I want to feel. Whether it's journaling to dig deep into how I'm feeling and how I want to feel, writing an affirmation for the upcoming day, or making a plan to smash through, it's my go-to to feel at my best!
Take a look at the way you’re living…
This one is a little different to the rest. But it's just as important!
Winter doesn’t just make us sick. It makes our homes sick. Damp air, mould, condensation, stagnant air, insulation problems…
And all those things? They make you sick. And I’m not just talking problems with colds. I’m talking more serious problems like mould illnesses, breathing difficulties, allergies… and these are all preventable.
Here's a few ways I swear by...
Invest in a dehumidifier (or at least, get rid of the water!)
When winter comes, so does the condensation! And it’s a pain. But constantly damp windows lead to damp homes and mould. For anyone with allergies and asthma, it’s a killer!
I cannot recommend a dehumidifier enough. It makes such a difference to our home and our health.
If affording a dehumidifier is an issue at the moment, make sure you're getting rid of that water! Take 10 minutes each morning to wipe down the windows in your home. If you're really short on time, make sure you're at least doing the areas that you spend the most time in!
Air out your home
When it’s cold and rainy outside, we don’t want to open the windows. But if our home is never aired out, it leads to stagnant air and damp spaces.
Make the most of any time the weather has improved and open up your windows.
It'll help clear the stagnant air, help remove moisture and help the flow of fresh, crisp air in your home. Even if it's just for 20 minutes in the morning, it'll make a difference!
Heat your home!
Wherever you are in life – a student, full-time work, self-employed, a stay-at-home mum – sometimes we just want to save a little bit more so we scrimp on heating. But would you rather spend a little more to stay warm? Or a little more on medical bills…?
It is so important in winter (for both our health AND our mindset) that we are kept warm. So whether it’s an upgrade in heating or an upgrade in insulation, make sure you’re keeping warm.
The ideal house temperature is 19 degrees. Anything above that we’re wasting energy because our bodies then try and cool ourselves down a little, and anything below that we’re trying to heat ourselves up.
So… more money on health bills? Or more money on heating bills? You decide.
Winter may be one of the toughest seasons to stay motivated, energised and healthy... there are so many ways you can be the best version of yourself, even when it's not the best weather outside.
No matter how much energy, time, motivation and money you have, there are always ways to make winter a season where you thrive.
From a happy, healthy mindset to a happy, healthy body (and don't forget about your happy, healthy home!), you deserve to be the best you this cold season.
If there's one thing I want you to ask yourself, it's this:
'What is going to make me feel incredible this winter?'
Whatever it is... do that.
P.S. Please remember, I have zero affiliation with any products mentioned, they are just products that I swear by! Also, please note these are things that work for me and that I couldn't live without and if you feel you need a little more support, I recommend you reach out to a professional in the area you need.
BY COURTENAY MCCULLOCH
Founder of Thrive Collective, activewear-wearing, brunch-loving, dog-obsessed girl on a mission to help all women realise their real potential and start living a life where they thrive in every moment.