Winter is coming. Actually, Winter is already here. As we get cozy beside our fireplace or heater and observe our outer environment, we can see thatlife around us has indeed slowed down. Fewer signs of animal activity, the absence of flowers in bloom, and perhaps a light dusting of snow or a heavy downpour of rain.
We are in the middle ofWinter, the season that often encourages us to retreat - physically and figuratively - inwardsso we can reflect on our lives and call forth our deepest desires for the upcoming year.
In this blog post, I will share, from a holistic health practitioner’s perspective,my insights on the Winter season - its significance, energetics, and ways we can learn to work with it to feel more balanced and nourished each day.
This includes a discussion of my favorite foods, herbs, and beauty rituals so that you can support yourself, your health, and your skin. Because as you may know, my motto is that “your skin is a reflection of your inner being.”
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda, both traditional systems of medicine that have been practiced for millennia, Winter brings with it a certain energy. Along with cooler temperatures and depending on where you live, a dry or wet climate,Winter calls for fluidity and balance.
In Ayurveda, the primary dosha (i.e. elemental constitution) of Winter isKapha, which represents wetness and heaviness. Similarly, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, theprimary element of Winter is water and its corresponding body organs include the kidneys and bladder.
Thus,both TCM and Ayurveda encourage us to maintain balance and fluidity so that we can 1) offset heaviness and 2) support kidney & bladder functions as well as our whole being this Winter season. And believe me, your skin will thank you!
Winter calls us to slow down and reflect. But if we are constantly rushing around, burning the candle at both ends, and not managing our stress levels appropriately, we may, over time, find ourselves in a state of imbalance.
And we may end up experiencing any or all of the following conditions, leading us to a state of burnout:
- Chronic fatigue
- Back, neck, or shoulder pain
- Feelings of isolation or loneliness
- Lack of motivation
- Digestive issues
- Skin disorders
So this Winter season, I invite you to watch and listen closely to both your internal environment (i.e. your body) as well as your external environment (i.e. your home, neighborhood, while exploring nature) so that you can gain more clarity on how to best support yourself.
You may end up discovering what no longer serves your highest good so that it can be released. You may find yourself reaffirming what’s working well in your life so you can continue your healthy habits.
These practices can ultimately help you get really clear on what you wish to cultivate so that you can create your vision with intention and purpose for the upcoming year.
Winter holistic beauty goals
1) Nourish your body with nutrient dense foods
2) Maintain moisture & hydration
3) Optimize sleep hygiene
4) Move daily
5) Find ways to actively manage stress
6) Supplement with herbal remedies
7) Support your kidneys
To support you in staying in balance, here are my favorite holistic beauty practices categorized by foods, skincare, lifestyle, and kidney health.
Eating seasonally and consuming organic, whole foods can do wonders for your health, mood, and skin. Here are my favorite skin loving foods for this time of year:
- Apple, avocado, banana, beets, brussel sprouts, carrot, cauliflower, chard, dandelion greens, grapefruit, leek, kale, onion, orange, pomegranate, potato, turnip, walnuts
Rest & Sleep Hygiene
Poor sleep has been linked to decrease in skin’s barrier function as well as the appearance of puffy eyes or under eye circles, a weakened immunity, dull hair, or an irregular appetite.
In order to fully feel rested, it’s important that you maintain good sleep hygiene through your daily actions. This includes:
- Avoid screen use at least one hour prior to bedtime
- Winding down with a calming, grounding activity like having a cup of herbal tea, journaling, creating a gratitude list, meditation, stretching, or taking a bath or foot soak
- Use the bed/bedroom for sleeping
- Allow yourself time for guilt-free naps if needed
It’s never too late to start integrating daily movement into your life. Being active is a small but powerful change to help with stress management and also leads to an increased production of endorphins.
Start small with daily walks, build up to enjoyable activities: cycling, running, yoga, softball, swimming, dancing for thirty minutes most days of the week. Don’t forget to stretch regularly and be careful not to overdo it!
The calm and quiet energy of Winter invites us to take in our surroundings and find ways to slow down, especially if you’re an ambitious go-getter like me!
Winter is a great time to check in with yourself regularly, tuning into your body, and asking yourself how you feel when it comes to: diet, sleep, exercise, stress levels.
Once you have noted your feelings in these areas, ask yourself the following:
- What changes would you like to see or make?
- How might you start?
- What’s one small step you can take to get yourself on the right path again?
Skincare rituals to maintain moisture & hydration
During the Winter season, our normally lustrous skin may start to appear dull, dry, or lifeless. We may feel more dehydrated than usually, and in turn our skin begins to show symptoms. But to really know how to support your skin's needs, it's important to understand whether your skin is dry, dehydrated, or both so that you can address these two distinct conditions appropriately.
One beauty ritual that I often look forward to all year round but especially in the Winter is oil cleansing. When my normally sensitive, combination skin starts to experience dryness in the Winter, there's nothing more soothing than massaging my face with an oil cleanser to, not only clear my pores, but also to melt away the day’s stressors.
Oil cleansing offers a super gentle way of cleansing with stripping your skin of its natural oils. Here are some of the key benefits of oil cleansing:
- Balances oily skin; moisturizes dry skin
- Removes dead skin cells, dirt, sunscreen, and makeup (including mascara) effectively
- Provides stress relief through facial massage
Interested in oil cleansing? Try our high vibrational plant-based Cleanse Oil!
For a deeper clean, I often turn to facial steaming once a week. It’s also my go to form of self-care: getting to inhale botanical infused steam while allowing it to penetrate my skin and pores offers the ultimate facial rejuvenation experience.
Facial steaming, when done on a regular basis, offers the following key benefits:
- Brightens complexion
- Opens pores for deep cleansing
- Hydrates skin
- Keeps nasal passages moist
- Relieves congestion / stuffiness
- Tension relief & relaxation
Winter Herbal Remedies
Herbs are a great way to support nutritional balance, not only during the Winter season, but all year round.
Made with a balanced blend of medicinal herbs, these remedies are perfect for several seasons, including Fall, Winter, as well as cold and flu season.
They help to support various body systems and organs, including your lungs, gut, immune system, and cardiovascular system.
Here are my favorite Winter herbal remedies. Click on each to learn more and get my recipe!
Support kidney health
In the true spirit of holistic beauty, I want to emphasize the importance of supporting our kidneys.
About the size of a fist, our kidneys are a pair of purplish brown organs that sit below the ribs towards the middle of the back.
Each kidney contains tiny tubules called nephrons that remove urea from the blood; hence the kidneys are one of the major organs of elimination - helping us to excrete metabolic waste in the form of urine. In fact, supporting natural detoxification is one of the best ways to get glowing skin!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the kidneys are considered the storehouse of life force energy and have a very intimate connection with the heart.
Like many other body organs, our kidneys work tirelessly to keep us alive by performing many important functions, including but not limited to:
- Filtering blood
- Producingerythropoietin, aprotein that’s required for the production of red blood cells
- Maintaining fluid homeostasis (e.g. balance of electrolytes, acid-base, etc)
- Producing hormones that help to regulate blood pressure
One of the best ways to support healthy kidney function is to hydrate properly. This includes drinking adequate amounts of purified water each day. While many of us, especially when dehydrated, often turn to chugging water in one sitting, it’s better to sip on water throughout the day so as to not overwhelm the kidneys and ensure proper hydration.
Herbal infusions, made with mineral rich herbs like alfalfa, nettle leaf, and oatstraw offer great nourishment and support for the kidneys as well.
One of the beautiful things about tapping into the energy of Winter is that it allows us to re-connect more deeply and amplify love within ourselves. As we get quiet and slow down or hibernate, we can get reacquainted with our body’s natural rhythms and begin to understand which areas of our life are going well and those that need more attention.
Paying close attention to your surroundings and simply observing what’s around you can bring a greater awareness of how to support yourself, your overall health & well-being. The act of observing and reflecting can bring you closer and more in touch with your own inner rhythms, which can ultimately help you flourish!
I invite you to take this opportunity to turn inwards and reflect while exploring any or all of the holistic beauty practices shared above. With any of these practices, the goal is not to achieve perfection but rather to make progress - to learn, grow, expand so that you can evolve into your highest self. I hope that the energy of Winter will help to facilitate this expansion for you.
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