A deep breath in as the heart of winter is upon us. For many of us winter can bring about the harshest of weather conditions, forcing many of us to take comforting refuge indoors. While my spouse and I are avid hikers regardless of the time of year, we do acknowledge that winter is a time for things to slow down for us. Winter is a time for appreciation and preservation. We can appreciate the season for its purpose and direction in our lives but also give appreciation to ourselves for preparing for such a time. For this month’s blog post, I wanted to share a few winter, and winter-preparation ideas that help to provide comfort during these winter months.  

Bountiful preparation

In the summer and well into late fall, I will gather all that the earth has to offer in preparation for winter. I will gather, wash and dry all of my garden herbs and store them for use all winter long. I tend to gather vitamin C packed fruits, like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries and store them in a deep freeze and use them throughout the cold months. Fruits picked at the peak of harvest during summer months, properly cleaned and stored tend to hold up well in the freezer and can be enjoyed all winter long.

I’ll more often than not have my cupboards filled to the brim with jars of honey and healing teas. The pantry, is typically well-stocked with dried garlic and onions seasonings, well-kept nuts, and jars of bone broth. The idea is to enjoy these summer items in the winter when they are sparse or difficult to attain due to seasonality. I will usually jar pickles and green beans but they never make it until winter and are often broken into in the fall. It’s not my fault they are so delicious!  Preparation for winter means you will be able to enjoy these when you need them. This winter if you are enjoying a well-prepared stock, then we celebrate our harvest and hard work together. If you are wishing you had or don’t quite know how to, now is the time to starting think about what you’ll plant in the spring or make a seasonality map based on your region and pick locally. It’s never too late to make a plan for the next opportunity. If you didn’t prepare, you can still enjoy some of the prior season’s harvest by visiting local farm stands or co-ops that may sell some of these frozen fruits still in the freezer. It doesn’t hurt to shop around and ask!

Invigorate the senses

I’ve grown quite fond of using essential oils in a diffuser to brighten up the air around me. In winter the following essential oils are my favorites! They bring forth energy, light and awaken the senses. Make sure to buy good quality pure essential oils that don’t contain synthetics, and please ones that are not tested on our animal friends. Below are a few of my favorites for winter:

  • Sweet Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Oregano

I have a diffuser and I’ll just fill it up to the line with water and add 3-5 drops of essential oils to the water and allow it to diffuse into the air. If you like lighter aromas use less drops, some essential oils can be very strong so use at your own comfort and discretion. I like to use sweet orange in the morning as a gentle wake-up aroma, its invigorating, inviting and honestly energizing! Lime and Lemon are to be diffused in the kitchen or bathroom, they are bright and energizing. Grapefruit is bright like its citrusy partners but tends to feel revitalizing, great for an afternoon pick me up. Oregano is one that I will put on when we are feeling under the weather, its widely known for it’s antimicrobial, antiviral and antifungal properties and is so comforting when you have a cold or feel one coming on. In winter things tends to be wet, moldy and damp in the Pacific northwest, so it is nice to bring some on some fresh air with some health benefiting properties. The most important take away is find something that allows you to enjoy the air around you. Don’t be afraid to crack open a window for a few short stints in combination with your diffuser, fresh air is important during the winter months too!

Warm the senses

Another way to activate the senses is through food. Winter is a wonderful time to experiment with some of the more earthy, spicy, and warming spices. Finding fun new ways to incorporate these spices can be fun. My most recent experiment was a golden milk hot cocoa! A smooth drinking chocolate infused with warming turmeric and ginger. It’s also a wonderful time for soups, featured is my homemade pho with a broth I make from scratch. Below are a few of my favorite spices that I like to incorporate into my meals this time of year:

  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Cardamom

Body preservation and healthfulness  

So far, we’ve talked about all the wonderful foods, spices and essential oils that can help bring us through this rough, yet beautiful time of the year. Now it’s time to talk about preservation for the body and mind.

During the winter months I find it challenging to find (especially living in the pacific northwest), sunshine.  With the days shorter, and dark it’s challenging to obtain all the benefits your normally would from being out in the sun. Due to this lack of sunshine, I tend to have below healthful levels of a particular vitamin. I have since worked with a naturopath expert, to support my health in ways that my body needs. The key takeaway here is to check in with your body, energy levels and general wellbeing. Are you getting everything you need to be healthful? If you feel like your energy is drained or lacking in something, reach out to a trained medical professional that can work with you to achieve your health goals.  

If the weather isn’t being a total beast, go outside! It is still very important to stay active during the winter and participate in safe outdoor winter activities. I love bundling up in appropriate winter gear and exploring the beautiful pacific Northwest. Enjoying all of the season is a great way to live in the moment and experience impermanence. On my hikes, I like to find somewhere comfy to rest and just sit there for a moment taking it all in. The cold mountain air, the sound of the river nearby, the feeling of being grounded and connected to the earth, it’s all very comforting. I hope these winter ideas will help support and facilitate good health and wellbeing. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to try something new or revisit something you haven’t had time for in a while. Wishing you all healthful and enjoyable winter season!

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