The anticipation of changing seasons is always filled with transitions, especially spring to winter. From what we wear, to what we eat, and how we take care of ourselves, it all starts to look different.
Emerging from the dark still winter can be filled with excitement and sunshine but with each year, before completely saying good-bye to my fleece sheets, I become more attached to the rest and retreat winter offers. Katherine May, author of Wintering, colorfully describes cozy winter nights:
"And winter sleeps are the best. I like my duvet thick and my bedroom cold so that I have a chill to snuggle against. Unlike those terrible thrashing summer nights when the room is always too close to allow that final descent into oblivion, the cool winter nights afford me deep sleep and long, magical dreams. When I wake in the night, the dark seems more profound and velvety than usual, almost infinite. Winter is a season that invites me to rest well and feel restored, when I am allowed to retreat and be quietly separate."
Eventually I take down holiday cards, stow away my heavy coat and and boots (which didn't get a lot of action), and start wearing brighter colors. But then it hits. The heaviness of winter is in my bones and my joints crack as I walk down the loft steps in the early morning. My nose is more congested and I feel dense and blob-like.
It's time to move winter out of your body! Here are common signs your body might be out of balance and what you can do about it.
Change in appetite
It's normal to want more fat and comfort foods during the winter months but as the earth lightens up so should your appetite. Eat bitter greens and dry grains like buckwheat and millet which will help shift your pallet. Ease off extra fat, processed foods, and salt and introduce pears, tofu, grape-seed oil, honey, and rice milk. If you're not hungry, that's ok! Don't skip breakfast or lunch but take a raincheck on dinner if you're not interested in food.
Sinus or chest congestion
You may experience a build up of mucus in your nose or chest, which again is an excess of the elements of earth and water. The goal is to move that congestion out of the body. Try a neti pot to irrigate your nose, limit snacking (especially at night), and add spices like turmeric and cayenne. One of the most powerful ways you can move congestion out is to not overeat. Eat when you're hungry. I know, easier said than done. You got it.
Seasonal spring allergies
I used to always get allergies. I'm not sure there is anything more annoying and exhausting. With an excess of mucus in the body, sinus channels are not clear and it's easier for bacteria, viruses, and toxins to get trapped inside. Keep your nose clean and oiled. Apply a small amount of almond or grape-seed oil to a clean finger and gently lubricate your nostrils. That way whatever you breathe in will easily glide back out. Also, get a solid nights rest. Sleep helps everything.
Feeling dull and heavy
Start to move! Bring your body alive with bright movement. Extend your walks with the dog or kids a couple blocks further, practice yoga for 10 extra minutes, swing a kettlebell or do 10 pushups in between phone calls. Balance yourself with the opposite quality to bring yourself to center. Be gentle and enjoy the changing of the seasons.