Hi y’all! Happy December! This month I’ll be posting every day until Christmas week with healthy recipes, holiday DIYs, articles for health, and more. That’s 20 posts!
I’m also doing a GIVEAWAY! That’s right, you can enter to win a mystery gift basket full of my favorite health, nutrition, and beauty items worth over $150!
I want to show you all how much I appreciate the love and support you’ve had for my journey with SPIRITPLATE. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is like us on Facebook AND like each post we share this month OR follow us on Instagram AND like each post there. This means you can enter up to twice times each day (by liking once on FB and once on IG) and you have until 11:59PM CST on December 20th to like each post. I’ll choose a winner randomly and announce on December 21st. You should receive your gift basket before Christmas!
To that end, I can’t believe that this time last week, we were gearing up for Thanksgiving, and now it’s already December! This entire year has just flown by, and the increasing speed with which life is passing just makes me nervous. Days seems so long when you’re a child, but as you get older the days seem to blur together.
Something that helps me mark the time, and slow it down if you will, is to be present with the seasons. I alter my lifestyle and daily rituals as the year transitions from spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, and winter to spring. This supports my mind, body, and spirit in recognizing and being present with the changes happening around me.
Here’s how I transition into winter:
- I sleep with the sun. The natural rhythm of your body calls for a slowing down during the winter – a sort of mild hibernation mode that requires that we get more rest. Throughout the year, I try to rise and retire with the sun. This means I get up earlier and stay up later in the summer, and sleep in during the winter. Of course, our modern lifestyle means we do need to continue working late hours, but I bridge the gap by winding down after sunset. I turn off the bright lights in our home, set my phone, computer, and TV brightness to low, or turn them off, and I reduce the volume of these devices as well. Shifting to a darker, quieter, environment with less stimuli after sunset helps your body feel like it’s resting – which is exactly what it needs in the colder months!
- I eat seasonally. I try to incorporate produce that is in season, and reduce the produce that isn’t. Eating foods seasonally is not only more cost effective, these foods are built to provide you with the exact nourishment you need for the season. For example, bananas, berries, and cucumbers ripen in the heat of summer, and are rich in potassium and vitamins you need to rehydrate – exactly what we need in the hotter months. Squash, starchy vegetables like cauliflower, and citrus like limes and oranges are more abundant in the winter, providing high doses of vitamin C and minerals like iron and magnesium to keep us from getting sick in the colder, wetter months.
- I eat for warmth. I incorporate more warming foods and spices into my diet, such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon. I add soups a few times a week, which gives me my needed vegetable intake but is also super comforting to warm up with. I also try to reduce or remove processed foods like oils, bread, and sugary baked goods from day-to-day meals, reserving them only for special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas) to prevent those extra holiday pounds, but stick to starchy carbs like rice, potatoes, and beans that provide sustenance and bulk to my meals.
- I hydrate. In the summer, we tend to eat water-rich foods, but in the winter we tend to go for starchier, denser fare. This is our natural; our body thinks it will be cold and starved, and is storing up in preparation. To prevent dry skin and a proneness to the winter colds and flus, keep yourself hydrated. Don’t like water? Add a few lemon or ginger slices. Feel too cold? Drink your water hot. I usually have several cups of hot water a day, often with some kind of spice or flavoring – lemon, rosemary, turmeric, ginger, cayenne, and cinnamon are my favorites.
- I move. The cooling of our bodies in the wintertime means our joints ache a bit more, and breathing is a bit more laborious. We feel more lethargic, and while yes, we need to wind down, it also means that we should work out intermittently. That when we do exercise, we do so carefully, properly warming up and cooling down our joints to avoid injury. Adding yoga to your regimen is a great way to incorporate a slower, quieter activity that still gets your heart pumping and body sweating. Listen to your body and you’ll know if your muscles and joints need more or less work to remain healthy throughout the season.
- I get outside. Being outdoors in the cold air, even for a few moments, really helps your body feel “oh, yes, this is winter,” and reasserts your circadian rhythm. Have your lunch on a bench or at an outdoor cafe. Take a walk to go see holiday lights. Build a fire in your backyard. We are not cold-blooded, we do need the warmth and are right in seeking to stay indoors, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t remind ourselves of the cold outside.
- I take a Vitamin D supplement. You may be getting outside, but the lack of sunshine-filled days means you still may not be getting enough Vitamin D to support a healthy immune system, control your blood sugar, and help you absorb calcium. Foods high in Vitamin D include salmon, tuna, cow’s whole milk and mushrooms of all kinds. Because I choose not to eat fish or dairy for both animal welfare and my personal health (heavy metals and disease in most fish known to cause cancer and birth defects, and the hormones in and acidity of dairy that interferes with my hormones, skin, bone density, and weight) I go for the mushrooms. Because mushrooms only provide 5% of your daily intake per serving, I also take a Vitamin D supplement.
- I declutter. Like spring cleaning, fall cleaning is just as important. Wash your sheets and clear out your closet. Move summer clothing and linens into storage and bring out the heavier, warmer wares. Donate any excess clothing to a charity. Click here to read my post about setting up a minimalist closet. Rotate your pantry items to bring out lesser used grains and beans. Clean the freezer to make space for make ahead soups and stews. Put away the summer tools and clear out your garage to be able to bring your cars and bikes in from the cold. Having a clean garage also helps to keep away small animals and other critters that will seek your home for warmth. There are plenty of cruelty-free methods on the market now to deter these critters from seeking shelter.
- I decorate. Having changed my linens, my clothing and my meals, the only thing that remains is to change my home or workspace decor to reflect the time of the year. In the summer, I love having greens, blues, and yellows around me to recall the summertime, but in the winter I go for the browns, golds and reds. My room is painted a pale blue gray with white and dark brown accents. To this I add greenery in the summer and beiges in the fall. I bring in the outdoors by using leaves, branches, and pinecones or other nuts and seeds to evoke the season.
- I use aromatherapy. As part of my decor, and shift in eating habits, I also employ the use of seasonal scents to help me feel present in the moment. Remember, scents are inextricably connected to memory, so to feel connected to a certain time and place, using aromatherapy is a masterful way to feel grounded and present. In the fall, I use more sweet and spicy scents like vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin, and apples. In the winter, I love the scents of fresh evergreen or pine, burning wood, and amber. I have a few favorite candles and incense sticks I light nearly everyday when I’m working from home during the day, or winding down at night that help me connect to the moment.