Considering I am born and bred in the UK, every year for as long as I can remember, I suffer from winter blues. Now I don't mean seasonal affective disorder, (though I think I am slightly susceptible to this the minute the days grow shorter) but what I am really talking about are the 4 to 5 colds I get before March hits, my seriously dehydrated skin (particularly hands and cheeks), breakouts of eczema; stiff muscles and joints, the constant heaviness and lethargy that makes me want to sit and vegetate on my sofa watching bad TV!
So this year I decided to compile some of my favourite self-care tips to help us cope with the season and shed our #winterblues. Ever since I began making products 13 years ago, I have been finding and researching different ideas, therapies and habits to keep me sane over winter. I hope you will find some of these tips useful. I think the key is to try and adapt one thing that resonates with you, and then build your own winter wellness routine. Here’s my survival guide:
My Triple Oil Attack - This is the first thing I looked at, when I started to research how better to get my skin through winter. In the early days my knowledge was limited, but nothing would make me feel better than slathering thick Shea butter over my dehydrated skin. I still love doing this, especially when it’s a fresh new batch that has been whipped up to resemble the creamiest, fluffiest mouse. This year I have added Lavender Geranium and Chamomile, as I need to feel comforted as well as requiring the healing and anti-inflammatory benefits these oils contain. But even before I became an Aromatherapist I realised it’s not just what you put on the skin, but what you feed it, so I came up with my 3 pronged approach, an oil to ingest, and two to slather on. So I upped my Omega 3s, by eating more oily fish, taking a cod liver oil supplement and including a combination of, Sunflower, Chia Seeds, Linseeds, and my favourite oil to add to foods, aptly named ‘Cool oil’ by The groovy food company. I also use a nice body oil with key hydrating ingredients such Avocado oil, Calendula oil and Jojoba oil. Then finally I apply either my Body butter balm or some whipped Shea butter.
Now if you don’t have the time or just don’t need that type of heavy duty regime, I have a scaled back routine which is handy if you have small people to get ready and need to be out of the door in a flash.
Nutribullet with my oil & seeds and sometimes some avocado
Body oil applied in the morning as I dash out the shower
Shea Butter in the evening, when I have a bit more time.
I also keep a small jar of balm in my bag for application when I’m out and about. You’ll also find some Tisserand Lavender & Mint Hand Cream which is really moisturising (without being greasy) and smells divine.
Then once a week/fortnight I like to apply a nice brown sugar scrub to buff off dead skin. There is no point slathering yourself with all this goodies, without giving them the opportunity to really penetrate the upper layers of the skin!
My Immune Boosting Attack – Now considering usually by this time I’m already on cold number 3 or 4, I know my own personal weakness is, SLEEP or should I say ‘the lack of it!’ You can take all the supplements you like, eat healthily, but if your body is just not getting enough zzzs then you are going to be ill; not to mention irritable and grouchy. So if you are to stand any chance, when a small person sneezes in your face, then apart from regularly getting a good night's sleep, I recommend the following:
Lots of warming Ginger Teas with Lemon and a splash of honey
My favourite bacteria busting/immune boosting essential oils I love around this time are Niaouli, Lemon, Lime, Ravensara, Eucalyptus (globulus, citriodora and smitthii for the little one and Thyme) I also keep handy a bottle Neal’s Yard Hand Defence, it’s a great hand sanitizer/bug buster.
Hydration, Hydration Hydration – I am terrible I confess, and if you are one of my clients who I dutifully tell to drink water after your treatment, apologies. Yes you do see water or herbal tea on my desk, but I know I just don’t drink enough, especially over the winter months. So I have promised to do better after a gentle nudge in the right direction from Help me Healthy’s Alice Yeates. To help me reach my water intake target, I will also consume more high water content foods, such as vegetables (in particular cucumbers). A helpful piece of advice passed on to me from Debra Whelehan from Live Well Nutrition.
Exercise, Yoga, Foam Rolling and Walking - Whatever you love, add it to your routine. I hate running, but I love a brisk walk in the mornings, I foam roll most days to keep me limber and try and do 10 mins of yoga/ stretching a day. More, when I have a full day of massage. It is so important to keep moving even when it’s -1 degree outside. If you want to reduce the number of visits to my couch, then adopt one of these small changes, it will also do wonders for your mood.
Treatments – If you are taking on a new task, then do add a treatment of your choice to - 1, help you stay motivated, 2 - keep you flexible, and 3 - release those feel good hormones. My’ go to’ therapies are Osteopathy and Massage; I have also now discovered a love of Reflexology. The Therapist I cannot live without is Dorothy Smith, resident Osteopathy Therapist at Bellenden Therapies, She is forever putting me back together particularly my upper back, hands and knees. She makes it possible for me to do my work.
Pampering Treats - Keep a few treats in your purse and in your bathroom cabinet. I like to keep a Rollerball handy this time of year. My favs are Neal’s Yard Remedies to Roll – Energy and Tisserand’s Mind Clear, and Stay Positive Rollerballs. They are so easy to use; just roll them on your pulse points. I particularly like to apply to my temples and inside my wrists. I also keep a handy a jar of my Muscle Soak Bath Salts or Frankincense, & Black Pepper Bath Salts after a long day, or when, I need some much needed TLC.
I hope you find some of these tips useful for your own winter wellness routine; I have to say for me, the one thing I have come to realise is to be kind to yourself and remember that ‘this too shall pass’. Like every season, winter will pass and soon you’ll will be happily bouncing with a Spring in your step as the next season arrives, but until then take care.