The biggest challenges I see lately in the clinic this winter season and during a lockdown, is how to how to find balance, physically and mentally. Grey skies, cold weather, short days and longer nights don’t inspire a bright sunny temperament or encourage us to go out for a good brisk walk. If you are not a disciplined person, need the inspiration of a group class or have no room to work out in your house then you are extra challenged.
We all know that a sedentary or static lifestyle can really wreak havoc on our body and our overall vitality. Most of us are turning to the online world for help (including myself), to try to find ways to keep moving, eat well and stay connected with our community of friends and family, but for some this just isn’t enough.
How can you stay active during this winter season?
Here are a few easy and doable actions you can do this winter to help strengthen and nourish your body and mind. Remember to listen to your body’s needs and abilities when working out or exercising, there is no sense doing too much or working out too hard and then injuring yourself!
- BREATHING EXERCISES
Focus on maintaining nice, full, relaxed breaths throughout your day. Cold weather or sitting at your desk and not moving all day can encourage us to shallow breath, tightening up the muscles of the neck and shoulders. Inhaling deep into the body brings in lots of oxygen (vital for cellular activity and repairs) and forces our respiratory muscles to work harder and our heart to beat stronger, helping to naturally increase our body temperature. Exhaling deeply can help our body detoxify and relax those tight, stiff muscles of the torso. Here are more breathing exercises to help warm you up.
- MINDFUL MOVEMENT
Doing mindful exercising 2-3 times a week or even better a little bit every day, can keep the joints limber and the muscles stronger. Move the hips, shoulders, knees and ankles to keep the joints lubricated and reduce muscle tension in the area. Aim to get out for a brisk walk with your favourite music or podcast before you start your workday at the computer or go out just after you’ve been sitting all day, this will help clear your mind immensely.
Here is a video I made to strengthen the arms using a towel – super simple and easy for everyone!
- EATING FOR THE SEASON
As a holistic nutritionist I strongly encourage clients to eat a diet appropriate for the winter season. Slightly steamed, slow cooked, poached or stewed meals keep the body warmer. Save the cold drinks, salads and ice cream for the hot summer days. Add a bit of cinnamon or ginger to your meal to help warm your body, if you have a cold constitution. You can read a more in depth article about living according to the winter season from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective.
- SELF CARE & POSITIVE MINDSET
Finally, take time for yourself, reflect and plan for great things to come this spring season…it is a time for new beginnings. Focus on the good things you have in your life and try to improve upon the negative things that may be keeping you stuck and unhappy. Try something new like meditation. The BBC brought out a nice little article 5 Ways to Stay Positive During the Lockdown.
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