Learn some practical tips to thrive during what can sometimes be grey sky winters in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere.
by Jeana Steiner
Winter… As much as we look forward to winter – it isn’t easy…. Farm life means there are multiple chores to be done every day and oftentimes in the cold weather – changing waters, feeding animals, plowing and shoveling snow around the farm. In the Chelan Valley we have had a very mild winter so far, however, the grey skies have settled in which has its own challenges. During Pharmacy School at Washington State University, I remember learning about seasonal depression and how the Pacific Northwest has some of the highest rates in the country. Growing up in the Seattle area – the wet and grey winters is all that I had known. It wasn’t until we moved away to North Carolina – that I really could feel the difference. Longer winter days, the sunny skies, and warmer weather made it easier to cope through the season. Then moving to Tennessee and then California made it even more noticeable when we moved back to Washington in 2018. Eastern Washington is known for the sunny skies, but it can still impact many people. As we prepare to celebrate the Winter Solstice and, in the hustle, and bustle of the Christmas Season, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to give some wellness tips/reminders to stay at your best this winter season. When we are at our best health, it makes our Winter chores much easier and feel better as we experience the gloomy winter days.
Here are some tips to remain healthy and happy until Spring.
- Nutrition – This is an entire topic of its own. We believe our overall health is rooted in the food we eat. Read labels – shop around the exterior of the grocery isle and avoid processed foods. This is a hot topic in the Steiner household (some of you may have been hearing us talking about our Food system) as we continue to learn more. As the main person who does the grocery shopping in our home – I have always tried to be conscious about what I bring into our home, but as I’ve been really reading labels more closely it is absolutely absurd how much high fructose corn syrup and/or other added sugar is in our food. As a child, I remember going to several stores to get groceries based on price and what is on sale. Now it has come full circle and we find ourselves as adults going to several stores, not based on price but based on quality. Eating less but more nutritiously dense food is better for our overall health. A few resources if you are interested in learning more is the Doctor’s Pharmacy podcast with Dr. Hyman. He shares in depth information about our food system and how to live a healthier lifestyle. Also, if you are looking to up the ante on your nutrition, I encourage you to contact Tara Dorgan-Zuluaga with Root Health Nutrition. She is back in the states and is an amazing resource in overall nutrition and gut health. She helped plan the meal from County Line when we hosted the Enchantment Mobile Sauna in October which was loved by all. To learn more, check out www.roothealthnutrition.com
- Plan and Schedule Activities – These not only give us something to look forward to – it gets us out of the house. On these long winter days – it is easy to not want to leave the house – however it is good for us to get out in the fresh air – go for a walk, listen to an audio book and interact with good company.
- Follow a Good Sleep Routine – the CDC recommends adults get 7 hours of sleep. Keeping all electronics out of the bedroom including tvs, cell phones and iPads will improve your sleep. Did you know that studies show that it takes 90 minutes after you are on your phone for your brain waves to slow down and you’re able to go to sleep. As hard as it is – put your phone to bed outside your bedroom and focus on getting good sleep.
- Meditation – There are many ways to do meditation with many apps available too. We learned Transcendental Meditation from Ustav Bajgain. He’s been over several times to do introduction classes to TM. If you’d like to reach him directly his email is email@example.com.
- Move – As hard as it is – keep a good routine and exercise regularly. Not only is it good for your body for obvious reasons but it is amazing for your mental health too. Endorphins are released which make you feel happier which are especially important in these short days of winter. There are several places in the Chelan Valley that offer yoga too. This makes a nice relaxing way to stretch and move in the winter months.
- Vitamin Supplements – Ok – I’ll get on my soapbox a little bit on the topic. Taking a good quality multi vitamin is important plus Vitamin D!. Vitamin D is especially important during the winter months when we are not exposed to as much sunlight. It not only helps calcium absorption in the body which helps with bone strength, it also helps with depression. Of course, talk to your health care professional before starting any new supplement as they have drug interactions too.
- Blue Light Therapy – I have not resorted to this – but know several people who use blue light therapy and it makes a big difference.
- Pick up a new hobby – Winter is a good time to pick up a new hobby. Puzzles, knitting scrap booking, making bread, etc. Our middle son, Jackson recently picked up knitting hats on a loom and loves it. Plus, it is beneficial for dexterity and the muscles in the hands.
- Make a Vision Board – this is great way to visualize what is meaningful to you, what inspires you, colors that you love, and places you may want to visit. Creating a vision board is something I’ve been doing of the past 5 years since we moved to Chelan. I place it by my computer and it provides a sense of inspiration in the cold winter months and all year long.
As we have our Winter Solstice Celebration this week with friends- and probably eat too much cheese and bread with our traditional Raclette meal, we are content in knowing life is a journey. Having a strong community that supports one another and knowing we have resources that will allow us to continuously learn and help us improve our overall health each day. Hopefully a few of these tips will be reminders for you to live your best life this winter season. Best wishes this holiday season. We look forward to seeing you on the Farm! Happy Winter Solstice and Merry Christmas and Safe travels to everyone!