Enough is enough! Yesterday was a day of bitingly cold winds, hail showers and snowfalls on the nearby ranges. Eleven weeks in and I am over the Winter Wonderland Magic.
I was chatting to a man in the supermarket register queue last night as he added some gorgeous coral coloured roses to his pile of groceries. He said he just needed some warm colours around his house to remind him that winter would not go on forever, that spring is nearly here. I felt so inspired, I bought some too!
Winter is eleven weeks in now and it seems we are all feeling over it. The joy of curling up with a warm drink, cosy slippers, a heat pack in front of a movie or with an engrossing book is past. I want to go outside without rugging up, to plant my spring vegetables, to enjoy a salad again, to get to the end of the day without cold feet and to enjoy some sunny evenings.
Even though we are at the tail end of winter this is the time that Winter Blues shows up for many people, as the accumulated stresses of winter start to affect them. These days winter blues are recognised as a disorder known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which is caused by a lack or not sufficient sunlight.
To help get us over that last hump in the winter road and to keep us going until the warmer days of spring arrive I have gathered some ideas to help lift our spirits as winter heads on out.
First up, a couple of warm drinks with a difference. I love herbal teas and I have a whole cupboard devoted to their storage – the tea cupboard. But, even with my wide choice, as well as the basic green tea back-up, I am bored. Here are a few new yummy hot drink ideas I have come across to spice things up when tea is just not going to cut it any more
Hot chocolate! Chocolate is recognized as a mild stimulant and if you choose your chocolate wisely you get all the benefits of antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins and minerals. Here are two DELICIOUS chocolaty drinks to warm your insides and your mood.
The first is from Tara Bliss at Such Different Skies
This PIPING HOT CHOC WINTER SMOOTHIE is thick, creamy, decadent and not-naughty.
1 heaped Tablespoon raw cacao (don’t use drinking chocolate or cocoa…it’s absolutely worth GETTING some Raw Cacao INSTEAD)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon chia seeds
2 medjool dates or some honey
1 cup boiling water OR warm almond milk OR dandelion tea
(you can add peanut butter, oats, cinnamon, coconut or maca)
Blend, Pour, Guzzle Buzz.
SUPERFOOD HAUTE CHOCOLATE from Sarah Britton at My New Roots
2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder
2 teaspoons maca porder
1 Tablespoon coconut sugar
Pinch sea salt
Pinch cinnamon powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch ginger powder
Small piece vanilla bean, scraped (optional)
1½ cups milk of your choice or water
Boil water or warm milk on the stove and let cool slightly. If using raw nut milk do not heat above 42ْ C
Whisk in dry ingredients. Serve immediately with a cinnamon stick, if desired.
Not only is this hot choc yummy but all the spices are wonderfully warming circulation stimulants to warm you through to the fingertips and toes.
DANDELION CHAI – SPICED DANDELION ROOT TEA
1 teaspoon -1 dessertspooon organic roast dandelion root per cup.
1 cinnamon stick (or a pinch of cinnamon powder)
Ginger root, chopped up with the skin left on
Add any of these spices to taste: star anise, bay leaf, black peppercorns, green cardamom seeds slightly crushed, cloves, dried orange peel, dried raspberry leaf, fennel seeds, peppercorns, vanilla bean, licorice root.
Place all ingredients and water in a pot, bring to boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
You can keep any leftover in the fridge and add water and reuse.
Add some honey and your milk of choice if desired.
It tastes great black, but may be too strong for if you are not used to it.
HOME MADE LEMON AND GINGER TEA is so easy to make and head and shoulders better than any from a tea bag.
2 cups boiling water
Juice of ½-1 lemon (about 60ml)
2.5cm piece ginger root, grated
A couple of spoons (or more) of honey to taste
Add the ginger to the boiling water. Simmer in an open pan for about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and the honey to the ginger water. Strain into your cup.
Or you can add all the ingredients to the water and pour into a thermos and let the mix sit for 20 minutes before straining and drinking.
This is a good option if you are still trying to throw off a winter cough. The lemon is high in vitamin C to boost your immune system. Ginger and honey also help the immune system.
ROOIBOS, sometimes called red tea, is one with heaps of health benefits. It comes from South Africa and has a fairly robust flavour. We recently tried one with added honey at work and it was very popular.
Looking out the window at the pots of flowers on my deck today, it struck me that the colours of late winter are lavender, the colour of the rosemary in full flower, and golden yellow – think daffodils. Bringing a bunch of winter daffs in for your desk or bench will brighten your mood, reminding you the season is about to change. Yellow is the colour of spring and it is considered cheerful and optimistic.
There have been a number of studies done which show that the colours you surround yourself with will have a great impact on your state of mind. In the Stadium at the University of Iowa, the visiting teams locker rooms are painted all-pink and have been for thirty years, because pink is a tranquil colour that is known to calm and pacify. If the Home Team then painted their own locker rooms red which stimulates a faster heart rate and breathing, they would no doubt benefit from an emotional energy boost.
Using colour is a great way to lift your mood and one very simple way to use colour is to swap a bright cheerful coloured silk scarf for your woolly, black winter scarf (of course you have a black scarf if you live in Melbourne!). Avoid blue because it lowers the pulse rate and body temperature.
Vitamin D is a wonderful mood lifter and if you are feeling a bit low taking a quality vitamin D supplement is a great move. In many parts of the world it is almost impossible to get sufficient sun exposure to meet your needs during the winter. Vitamin D is involved in so many body functions, but at this time of the year it often becomes very obvious that you have a deficiency of this vitamin when your mood drops. It is really worth having your blood levels tested with a simple blood test, as then you will be able to calculate how much vitamin D supplement you need to take. Optimum levels are >75 nmol/L. If your levels are significantly lower than this (and a large part of the populations are, even here in ‘sunny Australia’), then you will need to take quite a bit of supplement to bring the levels up again.
Another vitamin that plays a crucial role in keeping up good spirits are the B group of vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency is linked to a range of emotional disorders as well as many other body functions. Opt for 50mg daily of a Vitamin B-complex rather than selecting individual B vitamins as these vitamins work much better synergistically when all the ‘B’s’ are present.
Other supplements that are critical in dealing with depression and mood disorders are selenium, magnesium and iron. A multi vitamin and multi mineral can address any deficiency you may have.
Socialising is a great way to pick up your mood. Maybe this is the time to do something with your friends out of the ordinary. Hold a fondue party, or dust off the board games, particularly the ones you loved as a child, like Twister, Pictionary, Monopoly or Charades. Or combine a pot-luck night with a game night. Or maybe your friends would enjoy a ‘Funny-Home Video’ night or a Karaoke night.
Even though it is cold try and get outside for some exercise. It is tough to exercise in the winter, and arriving home in the evening just as the sun goes down and the cold closes in is not much incentive to head out to the gym or go out for a walk. But exercise goes a long way towards relieving the stress of the day. The endorphins released during exercise improve your mood and help you sleep, and the effects can last for a number of hours.
One problem of the colder weather for many people is that they crave starchy or sweet foods more than normal which increases their blood sugar levels, making them feel blue. Remember that the foods you eat are a strong contributor to your mood. A poor diet will cause an imbalance in your body and make you feel worse. Add more fruits and vegetables, including raw as much as possible. Use complex grains, organic meats when you can and eggs and ignore those cravings for white flour and sugars.
Natural light is one of the best ways to avoid the blues and to lift your spirits. You can now get full spectrum light globes in Australia and there are energy saving versions available. They provide the full range of natural light from infra-red to ultra-violet. The benefits are well established and they reduce many health problems such as headaches, nausea and fatigue. In your home open the curtains wide to let the sun stream in on any day that is a little warmer, particularly where you cannot install full spectrum light globes.
After being closed up for months on end houses get stale. Freshen up your surroundings and your mood at the same time with essential oils. There are some that have anti-depressant properties including bergamot, lavender, geranium, jasmine and clary sage. Others that are good mood lifters are sweet orange, neroli, and ylang ylang. Using high quality essential oil in an aromatherapy diffuser releases them into the air in the form of water vapour, which is the best way for them to spread through your home. You can also add them to a bath (or a foot bath) or add a few drops to a carrier oil and use as a massage oil.
Here’s to the arrival of spring…
All information and opinions presented here are for information purposes only and are not intended as a substitute for professional advice offered during a consultation. Please consult with your health care provider before following any of the treatment suggested on this site, particularly if you have an ongoing health issue.