Friday, November 26, 2010

Pondering Winter Well-Being

I make the transition from autumn to winter begrudgingly. There is no graceful, much less grateful, surrender to the darkness. November tends to be a particularly heavy month for me, physically and emotionally. Things lighten up a bit from December through most of January, thanks to the holidays and the momentum of a fresh, new year. But the heaviness tends to return for an encore in February, when enough is enough is enough.

The stork must've dropped me in the wrong location. I'm not wired for midwestern winters. The wind, cold, and cloud-laden skies are hard to tolerate. I start wearing long johns in October. I start using my light box in September. These will be my constants through March.

But there are other things that help me so much through these next four months ... some of them, all year long:

1) Daily 20-30 minute walk(s) outdoors

This is probably the most important thing that I can do to keep my train on the tracks and yet I find it to be the most challenging thing to check off of my "I will" list each day. Two walks per day would be even better and three would be ideal, but most days I am lucky to take just one. For my own well-being, I have to make it non-negotiable. There are benefits to foregoing the gym and walking outdoors when possible. Being out in the elements helps me to release my resistance to them. It can be an incredible mood-lifter, too. But it's nice to know that the gym is there when things get slippery outside.

2) Green smoothies

I try to make one 48-ounce batch of green smoothies per day. I start with two cups of water, add a tablespoon each of bee pollen, seeds (flax, chia or hemp), and coconut oil, add a teaspoon of spirulina, one apple (or pear) chopped, one kiwi peeled and chopped, one fresh banana, one frozen banana, frozen berries, and greens (kale, collards or spinach) squeezed in until the carafe is full. (A couple of years ago, I splurged on a Blendtec ... well worth the investment! It will puree your arm if you let it.) One batch fills four 12-ounce mason jars, which I store in the refrigerator. I consume these magical jars of green goodness every couple of hours through the course of the day and eat/drink anything else that I desire, so that I don't feel deprived. They kick the ever-lovin' butt out of my sugar cravings, which would otherwise be merciless at this time of year. I won't say that it is easy to drink something so cold when I'm feeling so cold, but I am rewarded by feeling nourished and alert.

3) Smart Water + Amazing Greens

Yes, more greens! I started using this powder daily when we were on vacation this summer and I'm hooked. I add a scoop to a 48-ounce bottle of Smart Water (I know, I know, I know) and consume it throughout the day. It helps to keep me hydrated and is a nice backup if I don't hit the mark on my green smoothie consumption.

4) Steaming Mugs of Something

Although I never would have dreamed that it could be possible, I have become a tea drinker. Herbal tea, green tea, and even Yerba Mate, which may or may not be a tea, but I love it. Although I tell everyone that I gave it up a couple of years ago, you can still coax me into a good cup of decaf coffee once in awhile. At this time of year, it's something hot and comforting in a mug that helps me to believe that I might not freeze to death after all. A spicy cider is a real treat. Miso soup is also high on my good medicine list. The options are limitless ... my only requirements are liquid + hot.

5) Light Box

Okay, so I'll bet that you've heard of these things and may have wondered if they really work. I have used one since 2006 and it has absolutely made a positive difference for me. I use it for about 30 minutes each morning ... sometimes longer, if inclined. In the darkest months and through long, gloomy stretches, I will use it a second time each day in the late afternoon or early evening. The light box comes with instructions to guide you through establishing a routine to provide the best support. You have to ease into using a light box, so please don't disregard this information. I have found that light box times have become my favorite of the day, because I tend to take the opportunity to journal or read. It's a nice start and break to the day.

What helps to keep you well-balanced or feeling vibrant at this time of year?


cathy ellerbee lipton said...

Thanks for the Amazing Greens recommendation Julie! I went out and bought a tub of it yesterday :-) I rarely rarely hit the mark on my fruits and veggies so I'm happy to throw back a bottle of smart water with my greens added to it :-)

Jakk said...

Hi Cathy! You are very welcome! It took a little while for my palate to adjust, but now it tastes like unsweetened ice tea to me. I miss it when I have to skip a day. xo

Amy Bogard said...

the computer companies should make their screens act like light boxes I think!