7 ways to stay healthy in Winter
When the days grow shorter, bringing cold wind, rain or snow, we need ample sleep, hydration, warmth, vitamin-rich foods and good company to feel well. Seven things nature gives us to stay healthy.
Good reasons for sleeping
We spend a third of our life sleeping. And with good reason: while we sleep our body regenerates – provided we give it the chance to do so. On average, we need seven hours of sleep a night so that our cells can regenerate and our immune system can produce new defence cells. During this time we process the experiences of the day in our dreams, disburdening our souls as we sleep.
Closeness - to others and one's self
Closeness to others is good for you. We know that at the moment this can be difficult, but studies have shown that friendships can be just as important for our health as exercise and a balanced diet. Physical contact triggers the release of the “cuddle” and bonding hormone oxytocin, which gives us a sense of warmth and security. At the same time, it reduces levels of the stress hormones that can leave us prone to catching a cold. If physical contact is not possible a phone call or email can also lift the spirit and help reduce anxiety levels. Closeness to your self is just as important. Are we in touch with our inner self? Can we tell when we’ve “had enough”, why this is so, and what we should do about it – before an infection forces us to take action? Self-care activates your self-healing powers!
“Let food be your medicine.” When the physician Hippocrates said these words 2,400 years ago, he didn’t know that it is the vitamins in fruit and vegetables that keep us healthy. Our immune system needs these vitamins to work properly. Because the human body is unable to produce most vitamins on its own, we need to take them in with our food. And the more natural the food we eat is, the more energetic we feel. Sea buckthorn is still an insiders’ tip for boosting the immune system. The bright orange berries of this thorny shrub contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits.
We owe life on our planet to the warmth and light provided by the sun. Sunlight stimulates the production of vitamin D, which we need for strong bones, in our skin. It also stimulates production of the “happiness hormone” serotonin in our brains, which gives us a natural boost. And it helps to keep us healthy: research in the young field of psychoneuroimmunology has shown that our hormone and immune systems influence each other. This is why during the time of the year when colds are common and the days are dull, it’s still important to get outside into the daylight. Even when the sky is cloudy the sun’s energy still reaches us.
The colour green
The colour green is a true gift of nature. It has a harmonising effect on our body, soul and spirit. A short walk among nature's gifts can lower blood pressure, relax tense muscles and strengthen the immune system. Even in the winter when the trees are bare, we needn’t go without it. Green foods such as cabbage, lettuce and herbs contain high levels of chlorophyll, which we absorb when we eat them. Plants use this leaf pigment to convert sunlight into matter, making it available for us to consume.
Water is cleansing, especially warm water: because of its reduced surface tension it can be more easily absorbed by the cells of our organism. Drinking a glass of warm water first thing in the morning helps the body to detoxify and improves your metabolism. Drinking warm herbal teas can also help to prevent the germs that cause colds from embedding themselves in the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. Taking a warm bath with the essential oils of silver fir and pine trees has an invigorating and balancing effect – particularly when it’s cold and damp outside.
Hot and Cold Showers and a Loofah
It doesn’t have to be an ice bath: simply alternating warm and cold water during showers, or at least finishing off your morning shower with a refreshing spurt of cold water boosts your circulation and stimulates the lymphatic system. This is a frequently overlooked but key component of our immune system. The more smoothly it flows, the more effective it is at neutralising and eliminating germs. The ideal preparation: a five-minute massage with a loofah glove. The dried loofah gently removes dead skin cells and stimulates the lymphatic system