Winter is an important time to have wellness rituals. The cold, dry air, and lack of sunlight bring challenges to our health and well-being. It causes us to stay indoors and become less active, causes vitamin D deficiency and low mood, and causes dry skin. In addition, we are more likely to eat calorie-dense foods because of a mix of the cold, low mood, and holiday celebrations. Not to mention, the common cold, flu, and other viruses are most active in the winter.
Creating daily habits that care for your mind and body will help you offset these winter challenges and keep you feeling your best!
- Morning Rituals
- Hot Tea + Porridge
- Morning Yoga at Home
- Mid-Day Rituals
- Daily Vitamin D Supplement
- Refresh with Citrus
- Evening Rituals
- Winter Root Vegetable Soup
- Spice-Filled Curry
- Hot Bath with Essential Oils
- Moisturize + Humidify
Winter Morning Rituals
For Breakfast: Hot Tea + Porridge
Start your day in the colder months with a warming and comforting breakfast packed with health benefits. A bowl of porridge (traditionally oatmeal, but can be substituted for any whole grain) is high in fiber, which is slow to digest. This keeps you feeling full, stabilizes blood sugar, and sustains energy. It also improves heart health and digestive health.
You can make your porridge savory or sweet, and you can make endless combinations with healthy toppings like nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, eggs, and sauces. Here are some recipes to get you started:
- Porridge, lots of ways by Jamie Oliver
- Oatmeal 8 Ways by Cooking Classy
- Chai-Spiced Breakfast Quinoa by Well and Full
- Savory Porridge Breakfast Bowl by The Fit Foodie
- Amaranth Porridge with Roasted Pears by Naturally Ella
Pair a bowl of porridge with a hot cup of tea. Regularly drinking tea is associated with a range of health benefits because tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties protect against cancer, aging, high cholesterol, inflammation, and a variety of diseases.1
Some of the highest antioxidant-filled teas include green tea, matcha green tea, black tea, and white tea.
For Exercise: Morning Yoga at Home
It’s hard to get outside in the colder months for regular physical activity. Yoga is a great activity you can do at home, even in a small apartment or bedroom. Yoga is proven to benefit both your mind and body. It improves strength, balance, and flexibility, as well as mood, energy, and relaxation.2
Mid-Day Winter Rituals
With Lunch: Daily Vitamin D Supplement
By now, you have likely heard of the importance of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is anti-inflammatory and plays a vital role in our bodies. The vitamin works with calcium to maintain strong bones and teeth. It supports immune function and lowers the risk of getting viruses like the flu and COVID-19. It also supports brain function, the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and glucose metabolism.3
Our skin makes vitamin D after being exposed to the sun. We can also get some Vitamin D from fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel), egg yolks, cheese and fortified milk, orange juice, and cereal. Adults need 600-800 IU (15-20 mcg) of Vitamin D daily, which is hard to get from food alone.4 So you may not get enough Vitamin D when there is less sun exposure in the winter months.
To prevent this, take a daily 600-1,000 IU vitamin D supplement in the winter season. Beware, there are vitamin D supplements that provide way more than you need, and too much vitamin D is toxic! The upper tolerable limit for Vitamin D is 4,000 IU (100 mcg) per day.4 Always talk to your doctor before starting a supplement if you have a health condition or take medications.
Vitamin D supplements are best absorbed with a meal that contains fat. Try taking the supplement at lunch with a meal healthy source of fat like avocado, fish, nuts, nut butter, coconuts, seeds, oils, eggs, milk, or yogurt.
In The Afternoon: Refresh with Citrus
Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are all in season during the winter! Citrus fruits are bright and refreshing and provide high amounts of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports healthy skin, eyes, and immune system, and protects against cancer.5
The refreshing feeling of citrus is a perfect pick-me-up to avoid the “afternoon slump.” So much so, its essential oil in aromatherapy is commonly used for uplifting mood and reducing stress and depression.
There are many ways to add citrus into your mid-day routine. For lunch, you could make a leafy green salad topped with citrus wedges or make tacos with freshly squeezed lime juice. Or, have an orange or grapefruit with your lunch or as a snack later in the day. For a refreshing beverage, try orange tea or lemon water. For uplifting aromatherapy, add orange or lemon essential oil to your diffuser.
Winter Evening Rituals
For Dinner: Winter Root Vegetable Soup
A seasonal and warming dinner dish for winter is a soup or stew filled with root vegetables. Carrots, onion, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, and rutabaga are all in season in the winter! These vegetables can make a hearty, nutrition-packed meal. Leafy greens and squash are also in season, so consider adding some of those vegetables into your soup too!
- Winter Root Vegetable Soup by All Recipes
- Any-Root Vegetable Soup by NYT Cooking
- Roasted Root Vegetable Stew with Tomatoes & Kale by Simply Recipes
For Dinner: Spice-Filled Curry
Another warming and comforting dinner in the winter is a spice-filled curry dish. Just like a cup of tea recommended for the morning, spices are packed with antioxidants. These antioxidants bring health benefits like better blood sugar control (cinnamon and garlic), reduced inflammation (turmeric and ginger), and improved heart health (garlic and turmeric).3 Spicy curries will also clear your sinuses if you are facing winter congestion!
Try these common Thai and Indian curries to bring these spices into your diet:
- Thai Green Curry Chicken by Samantha Shuflin
- Weeknight Red Curry by Bon Appetit
- Chicken Tikka Masala by Tasty
- Easy Chana Masala by Minimalist Baker
Before Bed: Warm Evening Bath with Essential Oils
Before bed, try a calming warm bath with essential oils. Essential oils associated with relaxation and sleep include lavender, chamomile, jasmine, sandalwood, frankincense, and clary sage. If you are struggling with a winter cold or stuffy nose, peppermint or eucalyptus are also good choices that can help clear your sinuses and airways.6 Do not add essential oils directly to your bathwater. Always mix with a carrier oil first. Read more about how to safely take a bath with essential oils here.
For comforting smells of the holiday season, read about holiday spice essential oils in How to Use Holiday Spices to Boost Your Health and Happiness.
Before Bed: Moisturize + Humidify
Winter brings dry air, which causes many of us to deal with dull, itchy, dry skin, as well as dry throats and airways. To add moisture back into the air, use a humidifier in your home. You should place it in your bedroom, especially at night, since it is the room you will spend the most time in.
To help with dry skin, moisturize regularly, especially before bed or after a bath or shower. Switch up your regular body lotion and face moisturizer for ones that are heavy and thick, that specialize in hydration and treating dry skin, and contain hyaluronic acid.
- Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C. Free radicals, antioxidants in disease and health. Int J Biomed Sci. 2008 Jun;4(2):89-96.
- 9 Benefits of Yoga. John Hopkins Medicine. Accessed October 10, 2021. Link.
- Therapeutic Research Center. Natural Medicines Database.
- Vitamin D Health Professional Fact Sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health. Link.
- Vitamin C Health Professional Fact Sheet. Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institute of Health. Link.
- Essential Oils for Sleep. American Sleep Association. Accessed October 10, 2021. Link.
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