In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice began just as the holiday madness hit full swing. At the time we were distracted by shopping, infectious jingles, influx of family and anything gingerbread/cocoa/mint flavored. But now the tree is on the curb, the too-small sweater from Aunt Fran has been returned, the local coffee shop menu is back to normal, and the year is looking long ahead... and the next vacation ages away. And as we feel the walls closing in while Mother Nature rages outside, it can be a struggle to adjust to ye olde winter.
Winter means increased gloom, decreased temperatures, and spending lots of time indoors. Depending on your precise locale, you could be facing a wall of snow when you open your front door, and scraping sheets of ice from your windows might be a daily ordeal. Perhaps the worst you have to face is a rainy commute and a reason to tote an umbrella wherever you go, but it’s still enough of a hindrance to leave a mark on your mood. An inherently human trend is that when the weather takes a dive, our moods tend to follow. Luckily, we have a few hacks to take advantage of this cold weather, and some strategically sustainable ways to boost your mood if the winter doldrums are a bit too tangible.
First one foot, then the other
Let’s begin with ramping up physical activity, because why not start with a bang?! Statistics prove time and again that without fail, getting healthy is at the top of the nation’s New Year’s resolutions list. So why not align a top resolution with a great way to boost your mood in the gloomy months leading down the seemingly long road that is 2017? Start by making realistic strategies-- if you live in a place where your damp hair turns to icicles when you open the front door, a brisk walk probably isn’t the most enticing solution. Try an indoor activity like yoga, balance ball or medicine ball workouts. ProTip: YouTube has a treasure-trove of free workout videos!
If you’re able to go outdoors without being bowled over by a snow flurry, bundle up in layers and explore your neighborhood. You might be shocked by the hidden gems hiding in your backyard! States have spent big bucks developing state and city parks that often see little to no foot traffic, especially in the winter months. Find a new walking path or hiking trail, or cycle to the store instead of driving. Walk a new neighborhood, and point out all of your favorite houses. Get creative! Endorphins released by staying active won’t only boost your mood: they’ll help to increase blood flow, stamina, joint health, promote restful sleep and do wonders for your confidence. Being in the cool, fresh air will energize you if you’re feeling sluggish, and make home feel even cozier when you get back. Fun fact: trees give off heat, even in the coldest winter months. While the heat only emanates in small amounts, it’s still enough reason to hug a tree if you get chilly!
Moisturize, moisturize and moisturize
Don’t forget: when heading outside to get the juices flowing, don’t skimp on moisturizers. When affronted with the harshness of the elements skin can become dry, leading to unpleasant flaking, itching and irritation. We use our Nourishing Body Cream or Whipped Body Butter for body; organic aloe will soothe while decadent Avocado and Cocoa butters lock in moisture. Pro Tip: if you need a zap of energy to get your booty outside, try our invigorating Eucalyptus line. To harken images of sun-drenched beaches and velvety sand between your toes, opt for our sumptuous Coconut line. And don’t forget the SPF! Even if the sun ain’t shining, you can still walk the streets on an overcast day and come home with a burnt forehead and rosy scalp, because about 90% of the sun’s UV rays can penetrate cloud cover. Try our BB Creams, Sun Sticks or Yerba Mate Mist to prime skin to face the elements, so you can safely get that mood-boosting Vitamin D from the sun’s rays.
While we may not think about staying hydrated as a way to stay upbeat, it’s true that dehydration will certainly make itself known in insidious ways if ignored. Reusable, BPA free water bottles are a great way to make rehydrating convenient, and so is a nice hot cuppa to fend off that chill you just can’t seem to escape. If you like to keep your caffeine levels in check, search for an herbal tea: all are naturally caffeine free. Black teas pack the most caffeine punch, and green teas will give you an energy boost while delivering antioxidants. Our team loves Traditional Medicinals, because they offer lots of beneficial herbal teas that naturally support crucial things like mood and energy.
The effects of dehydration are subtle at first, but will become hard to ignore: headaches, sapped energy levels, irritable mood, aches, pains and dry skin are all hallmarks of insufficient water intake. And since we’re here to promote healthy and safe ways of boosting mood and energy in the winter months, remember that hydrating can be one of the easiest to implement into your routine. You can even shop for seasonal winter vegetables like turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, carrots, broccoli and white potatoes that are all super hydrating. Top off your hydration routine with our Organic Cucumber Juice skin care line to ensure your skin never goes thirsty again.
Don’t forget to breathe
Whether you’re inside or outdoors, another helpful tip for keeping energized and upbeat is to practice deep breathing. When you breathe deeply, you help to quell stress, anxiety, and even manage high blood pressure. Like exercise, deep breathing releases endorphins: natural painkiller and mood-boosters produced by our own amazing bodies. Our favorite way to practice deep-breathing is while submerged in 100% Pure Sea Therapy bath soaks. You can moisturize, detoxify and heal while inhaling deep breaths of lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils in the bath’s therapeutic steam.
A warm bath and candles are symbiotic, so pepper your bathroom with a few made of soy or beeswax, or wherever they can most safely help to boost your mood. Candlelight promotes a sense of relaxation-- a key part in battling stress or a slumping mood. They also help to slow the world down when you’re feeling overwhelmed, and add a sense of soothing simplicity to a room lit only by the flicker of a candle. Don’t believe me? Check out this post by Stuart Kelly of The Guardian-- he’ll persuade you to slow down and smell the (nontoxic or unscented) candles! Not only do candles pair well with a steamy soak in the tub, but they’re the ideal companion for curling up with a good book. Just remember to opt for soy or beeswax, as conventionally made candles contain harmful, toxic chemicals that can irritate the respiratory system and even cause allergic reactions. Beeswax are especially useful because they purify the air: as they burn, they emit negative ions that bind to and remove toxins from the air in your home. Burn baby, burn!
Boredom can be a big threat in the battle against the doldrums, especially when the chilly months keep us indoors twiddling our thumbs. When we have time to unwind between tasks, it’s easy to snatch up the smartphone and surf the web, desperate for something to occupy our attention as the gloom settles overhead. Instead of click-chasing on a bright screen, why not pick up a book? Pick a few, while you’re at it-- my tried and true method of circulating 4-6 books at a time keeps my brain busy, and is a healthy distraction that teaches me new facts and perspectives every time I turn a page. Pick something for every mood: autobiography, historical fiction, science fiction, graphic novel, crime drama-- anything that’s made you scratch your head or piqued your interest lately will do. Or simply read a favorite over again... you already know it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser! Put a stack of books in every room, so they’re there when you need them.
Reading is also a lot better for your eyes than those smartphones, tablets and screens that make themselves so readily available; those electronics all emit blue light-- a high energy, short range type of UV light that increases eye strain, headaches, physical and mental fatigue and restless sleep. Reading on the other hand promotes restful sleep, positive thinking, memory, brain function and can even inhibit stress hormone production. Reading can make the world seem smaller and more manageable, or bigger and full of endless possibilities. And the best news? Reading isn’t susceptible to those winter storm power outages; remember that part about the candles?
The bottom line: even though we’re over here in California, we get that the winter blues are a real thing, and that it takes a conscious effort to fight them. The key is choosing healthy, sustainable strategies to get you through the sunless days and relentless cold. So after you bundle up, hike a new trail and get home, do yourself a favor and draw a hot bath, light some candles, grab a good book and remember… just breathe!