During the turn of the seasons, our minds and bodies gradually switch to adapt to the new climate and surroundings. With longer, darker days, winter is the season to prep for the most! Our mind frame alone can sometimes feel less healthy and energised. The good news is that we discovered the best secrets and products to beat the winter blues.
Here at Good Zing our ethos is to share the must-have health and wellness tips with the world. We gathered some of our experts and asked them to spread their knowledge! They shared their how-to's and go-to's so that we can all live our happiest and healthiest selves during the colder months. We invited 25 audience members to gather for dinner at Raw Press Chelsea in London to listen and take on board the brilliant advice from Iris Louwerens (Life Coach), Dr Justine Kluk (Consultant Dermatologist) and Dr Michelle Braude (Medical Doctor & Nutritionist).
How to beat the winter blues. By Iris Louwerens, Life Coach
1. Slow down your routines
In a big city like London, most people live incredibly busy and demanding lives. It’s easy to always be on the go and become stressed. In winter when the days are cold and dark, our energy levels are naturally a bit lower. Our mood might be dampened too. We tend to ignore this and expect to have the same amount of energy as during warmer months.
So we keep on living our lives at the same pace as before. This leaves us feeling even more energy depleted. The antidote though, is simple: take it easy! Winter is a perfect time to slow down, adopt the pace of nature and not feel guilty for it. Mix in more exercises that are at a slower pace than your normal high-energy routines and support the mind, like yoga and meditation.
Our bodies naturally get a bit of a beating during winter, due to the lack of sunshine. It's even more important then, to look after yourself and listen to what your body needs. It's not uncommon to need more sleep during winter. Try swapping your regular spin class for a yoga or a pilates class. You don't need to stop doing high intensity workouts all together, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to tone it down a little. Your body, mind and soul will thank you for it!
2. The best light therapies for winter
If you suffer from insomnia or seasonal affective disorder, they can become more difficult to cope with during the darker months. There are certain sad lights and LED lamps that can really help keep you feeling your best, like the Lumie Arabica Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD Lamp. They work by emitting similar light to that of the sun and slowly wake you at the right time for your body. The gradual wake up sure beats the loud, disturbing noise of your standard mobile alarm, and will help you sleep better!
You can also try a wake-up light, like the Philips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock. This is an alarm that uses both light and sound to gently wake you up. Roughly 30 minutes before your alarm is due to go off, a soft light will turn on and it'll increase in intensity, simulating a sunrise, until your alarm goes off. The brightening light is a natural cue for your body to reduce the production of sleep hormones and gradually increase the levels of those that help you get up and go.
3. Start a gratitude journal
It’s okay to not like Winter, but it doesn’t mean it has to take the better of you. You are the master of your fate. You can either moan about the winter blues, or you can accept the season and dress warmly! The most important thing to remember is to watch your internal dialogue – notice when you’re being negative, then decide to choose differently.
Journaling is an incredible way to boost how you feel. Every morning, roughly 1 hour after you’ve woken up, write down 3 things that you’re thankful for. It could be as simple as, "Breakfast was delicious!" or, "It’s not raining today". Doing this first thing in the morning will prep your brain to look for the positive during the day and avoid seasonal affective disorder!
The best skincare for dry, flaky skin. By Dr Justine Kluk, Consultant Dermatologist
1. What skincare products to use during winter
You may have found products that work well for you in the spring and summer, but as weather conditions change, so too should your skincare routine. During the colder months, choose ointments or balms rather than fluids or creams, as they're much more hydrating!
Use a gentle cleanser twice daily, like Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser or La Roche Posay Toleriane Cleanser. Apply generously morning and evening to create a protective layer and reduce water loss from the skin's surface. You can also look for moisturisers containing ‘humectants’, a group of substances such as urea or lactic acid. These hold moisture in the skin for longer. A great tip to keep skin as supple as possible is to moisturise along with the grain of your hair – don’t rub in circles!
Try a product like Aveeno Body Wash instead of shower gel, and Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Ultra-Soothing Balm as body moisturiser twice daily. If you suffer from dry hair, try washing with Eucerin DermoCapillaire Calming Urea Shampoo two or three times weekly. Leave the foam in contact with the scalp for 5 minutes before rinsing for best results.
For those who are breastfeeding, winter can wreak havoc on your nipples! One of the best products to relieve the pain is Lansinoh HPA Lanolin Nipple Cream. Use it frequently and liberally, and you can also slather it on sore, chapped lips.
2. Relieve cracked, itchy hands and feet
Cracked and itchy hands and feet are much more common in cold weather. This can be relieved by moisturising regularly and avoiding excess hand-washing or direct contact with detergents, chemicals and greases. Try to wear gloves when washing the dishes or doing household chores. If you need to wear woollen gloves to keep your hands warm outside, slip on a pair of thin cotton gloves first to avoid any irritation.
For your feet, massage Flexitol Heel Balm into the hard skin on your heels for a minute or two every night for a couple of weeks. When the heels are softer, you can reduce application to once or twice a week.
3. How important is sunscreen in winter?
Sunscreen isn't just for summertime. Winter sun, combined with other factors such as snow glare, can still damage your skin. It can increase the risk of skin cancer and premature ageing. A great tip is to apply a broad-spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen to your face and hands (if they're exposed) 15-30 minutes before going outside. My favourite is Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 which comes in plain and tinted formulations and is also suitable for skin types prone to acne, rosacea and pigmentation. If you're into winter sports like skiing, use a product which offers added sun protection, like La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF50+ that you can use on your lips too.
How to avoid winter weight gain. By Dr Michelle Braude, Medical Doctor & Nutritionist
1. Eat flu-fighting foods
Prevention is always best! It’s important to make sure your immune system is working at full capacity when winter sets in. Packing your diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is a great way to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. Dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, and berries, nuts, seeds, eggs and whole grains are all great immune boosters. They also provide Vitamins C, E and A, folate, iron and zinc. Living in the UK, we unfortunately don’t receive as much natural Vitamin D from the daily sun exposure! We have to incorporate foods that contain more Vitamin D into our diets like mushrooms and oily fish, specifically mackerel and salmon.
2. Hydrate with certain teas
Often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Water aids weight loss by helping your kidneys flush out excess toxins and chemicals, which may be slowing down your metabolism. If you have difficulty drinking enough plain water, try herbal teas. specifically, green tea or lemon in hot water are best as they are antioxidants. We become dehydrated during the colder months so to avoid a domino effect oevr your mental state and body, make sure to ingest as much antioxidant fluids as possible!
3. Choose the right sweet fix
When winter comes around it’s tempting to curl up on the couch and binge eat on stodgy carbs and sweet treats. But far from making you feel good, they can leave you tired, lethargic and moody. Instead, get your sweet fix from smoothies, which raise your serotonin levels naturally.
Remember, it’s ok to slow down to avoid the winterblues – your body might need it to function at a healthier pace after all!
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Read next: 7 Simple Tricks to Avoid Winter Weight Gain