As we head into this final stretch of winter, we all seem to be getting a little fed up with the cold and the havoc it can wreak on our bodies and minds. I moved all the way across the country from New York to sunny Santa Monica to escape winter, and even here, in the temperate 60 degree winter temperature range, my feet are cold, I’m sipping hot tea all day long, and I’m pretty much living in my long, chunky knits.
Cold weather, even Santa Monica-style cold weather, can dry us out, stress us out, make us feel depressed and unmotivated, and majorly hamper our glow factor. But with a few Ayurvedic tips and tricks, we can heat things up, boost our mood and immunity, and get through the rest of winter with our glow on!
1. Eat more cooked veggies and spices. Just because it’s too cold for a raw salad doesn’t mean our glow-inducing veggie intake needs to decline. This time of year, I like to throw cooked greens into everything (eggs, soups, lunch bowls, on top of cauliflower pizza, you name it). Green vegetables and brightly colored veggies (particularly orange) are great glow foods that keep your body happy and your skin healthy. Soups and stews should be a staple this time of year, and there’s no shortage of awesome winter recipes to keep you inspired (check out my Any Root Winter Vegetable Soup and Thai Sweet Potato Soup to get your started).
And don’t forget to throw in some warming spices to your meals, especially if you’re eating something raw or cold. My favorites this time of year are cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, which are warming to the body and stimulating for digestion. Warming spices also increase blood flow, which gives us that glowing winter skin!
2. Hot tea. Obviously, right? Drinking hot tea throughout the day (but especially at the coldest times of the day — early morning and nighttime) keeps your body warm from the inside out. Counteracting that systemic cold feeling decreases anxiety and stress as well, and helps the body not have to work as hard to heat you up. I start my day with some organic chai tea (my current favorite is Organic India Tulsi Masala Chai, which has the added benefit of holy basil, a powerful adaptogenic herb); drink ginger tea throughout the day (the most warming of all teas); and finish off the day with something calming like Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night. If tea isn’t your thing, try sipping on hot water with lemon or lime throughout the day!
3. Yoga. I advocate for yoga year-round but in the cold months, I find it particularly beneficial. Though a nice, heat-building vinyasa yoga class is always great, I’m a big fan of starting off my morning with 10-15 sun salutations that I do right in my bedroom (facing the window and rising sun, of course). Gentle but heat building movement like yoga right when you wake up boosts your mood, lowers stress and anxiety, warms you up, and energizes you for the day, making it the perfect bit of wintertime self-care to prioritize. Best of all, a morning practice doesn’t have to take long! Even just 10-15 minutes will do your body a world of good.
4. Oils. You guys know I’m all about the oils, but this time of year, oils inside and out are an absolute MUST. Cold weather (even the 60 degree SoCal version) dries out the body, which can lead to constipation, dull and dry skin, fatigue, creaky joints, aches and pains, low energy, and anxiety or depression. Keeping your system lubricated inside and out does a whole world of good. Cook with a little extra coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee this time of year, and don’t be shy about adding a dollop of healthy fat to your coffee (or milky tea, or golden milk) in the morning! It helps to offset the overstimulating effects of caffeine and is a great way to get a little extra healthy oil into your diet.
Externally, oiling the skin at least once a day is one of my favorite Ayurvedic wellness secrets. Abhyanga, or oil self-massage, is an ancient practice that boosts immunity, improves mood, decreases anxiety, and helps keep skin happy and healthy. Slather yourself with oil from head (well, neck) to toe after your shower every morning, using long strokes on your long bones, and round strokes on your joints. I actually like to do it while I’m still in the shower, so the hot steam activates and helps the oil penetrate my skin. Unrefined sesame oil is the best bet for most body types, though coconut oil is a good bet for lots of people too. Using oil on your hair and scalp is also an amazing treatment. It deep conditions hair, treats dry scalp, and is wonderfully soothing for the nerves as well.
5. Exfoliate to keep skin happy. Exfoliation is another key line of defense against dry, dry winter skin. I love a simple raw sugar scrub which you can buy or make at home and use a few times a week. I’m also a big fan of using alpha and beta hydroxy acid exfoliators on the regular (they’re Goop’s secret to ageless skin after all), sometimes even every night during particularly dull skinned winter days. If you don’t want to drop $125 on Goop’s Exfoliating Instant Facial, this Antioxidant Facial Scrub and Mask by Bella Jade does the trick for a mere $19 a pop.
6. Girl, go to bed. With the shorter, darker days of winter, our bodies naturally need more rest. There’s nothing worse for immunity, cranky wintertime moods, and energy levels than skimping on sleep. Shoot for getting into bed by 10pm every night, and falling asleep by 10:30 to wake up looking and feeling rested and gorgeous. If you need a little help getting to sleep, bedtime tea (see above), melatonin, valerian root, or some CBD oil all do the trick until your body gets used to it’s new circadian rhythm.
We all need a little extra love in these colder months, and with a few targeted bits of self-care, we can get through the rest of winter with that snow bunny energy, joy, and glow!