We hear a lot about the importance of taking care of ourselves, and honestly, I think this is a good thing. I think that as Americans we value external accomplishments too highly and value the simple, quiet, nourishing things too little.
Personally, I’ve found a couple of challenges with the common self-care recommendations that make them a very high bar for me to clear–self-care can be expensive, but it can also be boring. Either of these is a problem.
Additionally, I am a firm believer that our needs for nourishment intellectually, emotionally, and physically fluctuate with the seasons. In the summer, we have a lot of energy and in the winter we have less. We crave different foods during different times of the year, and other patterns may change too, with our work or sleep or other activities.
So, I’ve put together a few of the items I’m working on in my own self-care for the winter, which are all cheap, fun, and feel sooooooo good:
A friend of mine told me about this ten years ago, and I still see people spending money on little pots of this stuff from fancy stores. Wherever you live, your skin is likely drier in the winter than the summer. To return moisture to your skin, make a batch of this scrub and rub your whole body with it before you bathe or shower, as often as necessary. Skip your head and delicate undercarriage, but try to get everywhere else you can reach.
To assemble: Pour 1/3-1/2 cup of regular old granulated sugar into a mug, then pour a few tablespoons of cooking oil over it and stir with a fork until the mixture reaches a gloppy or pasty consistency. Any oil you cook with is OK for this–food-grade oil is certainly high enough quality to apply topically. I like extra-virgin olive oil, but coconut oil is nice too. Take it to the bathroom and scrub away. Bathe or shower as normal with soap to remove the excess oil. Enjoy your fabulous soft, exfoliated skin.
Our exercise habits often change in the winter–less outdoor walking, jogging, hiking, cycling, and more indoor exercise. Are you getting at least two sessions of exercise into your week? Do you like what you’re doing? Is it serving you? Take a few minutes and poke around online–look for some new ways you can work exercise into your week. Maybe try something new. I’m making a point of taking more Zumba classes now that it’s cold. The loud music and challenging dancing is the perfect warming energy for me this time of year. What’s your favorite winter exercise?
I know. It’s soup season. And casseroles and carbs. But it’s also January, and the produce we love is almost all out of season. I follow a mainly plant-based diet, and winter can be a tough time for herbivores. So here are my two go-to salads this time of year, highlighting veggies we can all find all winter (a food processor with slicing and shredding blades take both of these from annoying to easy):
Carrot Salad— I don’t have a go-to recipe for this, so here’s a rough one of what I do:
- 1-2 lbs carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1 big or 2 small apples, chopped
- 1 can crushed pineapple or pineapple tidbits in juice
- couple handfuls of raisins/craisins/dried currants
- chopped toasted nuts, any variety
- extra virgin olive oil and cider/sherry/balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
Dump your carrots, apples, nuts, and raisins into a big mixing bowl. Drain the juice from the can of pineapple into a measuring cup, and dump the pineapple pieces in the bowl. In the mixing bowl, add ~ 1-2 tablespoons each of oil and vinegar and whisk to combine. Dump dressing over salad and fold it all together, adding a little salt and pepper to taste.
Maybe the best thing we can do for ourselves is to be gentle and forgiving. It’s OK to have less energy in the winter, and to want to sleep more. It’s even OK to put on a little extra insulation around the middle. We are humans, and the rhythms of our bodies cycle with the world around us. This is a feature, not a bug.
How are you going to nourish yourself this winter?