Am I the only one who finds keeping healthy habits easier in the summer?
Let’s be honest, the cold weather, freezing temperatures, seemingly endless nights and shockingly short days do not exactly help the situation or work in favor of healthy routines.
But at the same time, it’s exactly the time of year we should really double down on our health, both physical and mental.
So, I’m extra committed this year to not let this winter season go to waste and instead maintain my healthy habits, establish new ones, and try to make the most and best of it.
These are the steps I’m focusing on now in order to have a healthy, balanced winter.
More winter wonderland vibes, instead of winter blues.
Healthy habits for the fall/winter season
Keep your summer healthy habits and tweak your routines //
If you started to get into the swing of a great, healthy lifestyle and routine during the summer, don’t let fall and winter, holiday busyness and shorter days deter you. We might need to do some extra planning and some adjustments, but it’s perfectly doable to keep good summer habits. Plan out the first few months:
+ make a list of healthy habits to keep
+ schedule exercise and self care time
+ make a to stop list
+ plan activities
+ plan your holiday season (including home tasks, gift lists, social commitments)
+ maintain control of your life
For me, seeing a clear-cut plan is already half a victory.
Humidify the air //
One item you can always find on my desk or in my living room is an air humidifier. It adds moisture back to the air, prevents skin from being dry or dehydrated, reduces the risk of infections and the transmission of viruses and bacteria, and is also great for sinus health. Here are some additional benefits and how you should use a humidifier.
It’s also time to switch on the essential oil diffusers. Eucalyptus, peppermint, or lemongrass are all relaxing and have great anti-bacterial properties.
Spice up your life //
Herbs and spices are a great natural way in wintertime to boost your energy levels, strengthen the immune system, and reduce inflammation. Not to mention the mood-balancing, rejuvenating effects as well. Ginger, lemon peel, turmeric, and cinnamon are everyday staples of my winter diet. Add them to smoothies or dishes, spice your coffee with cinnamon, make a ginger extract and add to tea, the possibilities are pretty much endless. Whenever you can, go for fresh and raw, not the powdered versions.
Comfort food is great – but a seasonal, healthy diet is also important //
Indulging in comfort food and decadent, three-layered chocolate and peanut butter desserts are great. And so important. I firmly believe that even in a healthy lifestyle, it’s not necessary to establish overly strict rules and totally deprive ourselves of sweet or ‘heavier’ treats. That would be a sad life. But balance is key. Poor nutrition can harm our immune system, contribute to lower energy levels, and increase our vulnerability to infections.
Balance the indulgences with a healthy, seasonal diet. Eat food high in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids to give your body the essentials it needs to function. Citruses, avocado, cabbage, butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, leeks, Brussels sprouts, beets (so underrated) are all in season – which means they are usually fresh and cheap.
Don’t neglect exercise and powerful health walks //
Apart from a brief period of enthusiasm early January, people are less inclined to keep their fitness routines in the colder season. It’s a lot harder for me at least: it’s dark, cold, with short days, and summer is so far away, there’s still time. But breaking your workout routine will do more harm than good on the long run. Getting back into it in the spring will be much more difficult. Exercise is also a stress and anxiety-reducer, mood-enhancer, immune system booster activity. It releases happiness hormones and will lift your spirit and energy level like nothing else. Do not talk yourself out of it (read my favorite fitness motivation hacks here).
Also, getting some fresh air and sunshine is essential. Have you ever experienced increased fatigue and sleepiness if you’re in a closed place for a long time? It’s due to a combination of poor ventilation, lack of fresh air, and lack of sunshine. Schedule some powerwalks regularly to fight off winter fatigue.
Plan programs, socialize, and get out more //
I know the temptation of spending long, dark, cold days wrapped in a cozy blanket at home with a book or in front of Netfix is huge, but it’s a short-term gratification with long-term risks. Holing up and not getting out for weeks is actually the worst thing we can do for our physical and mental well-being. It leads to an even lower energy level, overeating, sleep pattern issues, and a generally darker mood. Plan fun winter programs, meet up with friends, get outside, and don’t hibernate yourself.
Get addicted to green tea //
I love green tea. I’ve been drinking a couple of cups a day for a decade now. Apart from loving the taste, it’s also my investment for a healthy, long life. I’m kind of intrigued by its thousand years old history, how it’s been used as a natural medicine, and its ties to relaxing rituals. It really is a powerhouse, loaded with antioxidants, polyphenols, and minerals, and helps reduce risks of a variety of diseases.
+ Random fun fact: While green tea drinking is mostly associated with Asia these days, specifically China and Japan, it was actually the favored type of tea when it came to Europe. However, people started to counterfeit it by dying some leaves green and the trust in it soon dropped and black tea prevailed. No need to worry about it now, so establish a nice winter tea-drinking ritual with some simple or flavored green teas.
Mantra this: balance and moderation //
Overindulging in comfort food, giving up to holiday stress, too much time indoors or in front of the TV – giving in to temptations is so much easier this time. It’s like the dark weather can conceal our bad habits as well. And no need to say no to delicious holiday food, mulled wine, or hot cocoa – just keep everything in balance and moderation. Try portion control, quality over quantity, keeping healthy options at home, adding fruits and vegetables to everything, exercising, healthy trade-offs.
Balance is also about feeling good about our choices. Ruining a good lunch with regret is not worth it. If you make a choice, commit to it emotionally as well: enjoy food you love or the occasional lie-in. If you try to maintain a balance, there’s absolutely no need to beat yourself up over a lazy day or holiday feasts.
Adapt your skincare regimen //
As we change our wardrobes, we should also rotate certain skincare products depending on the environment and climate in order to protect our skins. Winter is the harshest on our skin and not just because of the drop of temperature, cold, and wind – indoor heating causes just as much problems. We automatically turn up the heater or take longer, hot baths as it gets colder and basically spend 24-hours in an extremely drying environment. The result: dry, flaky skin, especially on our faces and on our hands. That summer moisturizer and light gel cleanser probably won’t cut it anymore. Facial oils, balms, hyaluronic acid, and layering are key to healthy winter skin. Keep an eye out on a detailed post here on winter skincare essentials, coming soon.
Apply sunscreen //
Newsflash: SPF use is not limited to summer. Just because we don’t see the sun, it doesn’t mean it’s not there. UVA rays (that go deep into the skin and are responsible for aging, wrinkles, and skin cancer risk) can go through clouds and glass as well. Snow and ice bounce back up to 80 percent of rays so that they hit the skin twice. Be smart and protect your skin with SPF even during the winter months.
What are your most important winter healthy habits?