It’s that time of year. The holidays are over, the New Year is no longer new, and we’ve entered that strange period where spring hasn’t quite sprung, but the coziness of winter has worn off. We’re all daydreaming about sunny days, colorful spring fashions, and equally colorful seasonal produce at the market. We’re tired of eating winter squash in 467 different ways and craving a big bowl of peas and asparagus with some fresh strawberries. Our skin is dry and our hair is buried under thick wool hats. Where’s that groundhog when you need him? Spring, we’re ready for you.
But before we spring to life, let’s not forget to enjoy the winter. While those in cold-weather locations may be wondering how I could possibly use “enjoy” and “winter” in the same sentence, let’s not forget joys of this season while we still have them. Hey spring chickens, here are some ways to enjoy – yes, ENJOY ! – these last days of winter.
1. Hot drinks
There’s nothing better on a coooooold day then coming inside to a warm mug of hot cocoa, is there? Make your own healthy version.
Or try a hot turmeric milkshake.
Or, warm some almond milk over a low flame and add matcha powder for a healthy antioxidant and metabolism boost worthy of a Japanese Samurai warrior, or add some maca powder for a hormone-helper and energy kick worthy of an Aztec warrior. Add some chai spices – nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, ginger – for an Ayurvedic body and mind-calmer.
Or try some at-home herbal tea blends using fresh ginger, lemon or your favorite spices.
Winter is a “soup”-er time to whip up some warming, healing soups. Just add some coconut oil, garlic, onions or leeks, ginger and whatever veggies you have on hand (think: carrots, winter squash, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, spinach...) to a pot with your favorite winter warming spices – think: curry, turmeric, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne – and some water, simmer, then blend. Add sweet potato and/or coconut milk for extra creaminess and go nuts by topping with some almonds or walnuts.
3. Hot showers
The steam in the shower helps the body to release toxins, open skin pores and relax the entire body. A hot shower can help to relieve muscle aches and pains and calm the body – and mind! – before sleep. The hot steam also opens the nasal passages that tend to be clogged with the changing seasons and frigid temperatures outside. Just make sure not to make it TOO hot – it can be a shock to the system and burn the skin. The hardest part of a hot shower on a cold day? Getting out! While you may want to stay in there forever, think of your neighbors and the planet, and try to avoid turning yourself into a raisin.
4. Your bed
“Mom, do I have to get out of bed this morning?” Whether you’re five or 35 or 105, sometimes we want to cuddle under the comforter just for a little bit longer. Once spring rolls around and the sun radiates over your body, it literally pulls you off your bed with energy and excitement. Winter, however, is a great time to linger for just a few extra minutes (or hours, if you happen to be responsibility-free for a while), let the body rest, and ease yourself into your day. Many mammals hibernate in the winter, so it’s only natural to want to hide in your cave (or bed, as it were). Lie flat on your back with a pillow under your head, back or knees and spread your arms wide, or pull a thick blanket over your head and snuggle with your favorite someone, favorite four-legged friend, or even favorite pillow, and enjoy the sense of comfort.
5. Cozy clothes
Soon, just looking at a warm, wool sweater will likely make you sweat, but until then, throw on an oversized fluffy frock, fleece sweatpants, thick ski socks, and UGG boots before you have to wear those tiny sundresses and polo shirts.
6. New hobbies
Winter is a great time to catch up on those New Year’s resolutions (better late than never!) or make time for activities you may not want to do once it’s time to play outside again. Learn to knit (then teach me, please – it's my resolution this year, too), do the NY Times crossword puzzle every day of the week (and weekend, if you are also a genius), hone your chess or card-playing skills, or learn to salsa dance.
7. Family time indoors
“Stuck” at home with your family on a snowy, cold winter’s day? GREAT! Enjoy the present moment and cherish each other’s company. Spend time talking, catching up, and being affectionate. It’s rare moments like these that you’ll always remember.
8. TV marathons
Oh, come on, I won’t tell anyone. You are officially allowed to watch all 12 episodes of all five seasons of your new favorite show in one weekend.
You’re never too old to play in the snow. Head to the slopes for your favorite winter sport, or just stay local. Make a snowman, have a snowball fight, or simply go for a walk in the powder around the block. Or, just observe the beauty of nature from inside as the white snowflakes fall.
Yoga is – and should be! – a part of every season, but winter is the perfect time for both an at-home practice and heading to a nearby studio. On a cold day, sometimes a moment of Om at home can change your day completely. Or, if you can make it into the studio, the shared energy in the room is the best antidote for the winter blues. Sun salutations, inversions, forward bends, twists and deep breathing exercises are all great to warm the body, stimulate the nervous system, aid digestion, and improve circulation.