Now, you may think that winter in Southern California is a breeze. And compared to most of the country, you're right. But even our ever-so-slight change in temperature still gives us beach folk a slight shiver too.
During college I studied abroad in northern England, and I promise you I thought my fingers were going to fall off the night I arrived. I shuttered as I saw girls frolicking around the student housing courtyard in tights and skirts, some not even wearing jackets! But... by a few months into my time there, guess who was doing all the frolicking in tights?
I'll never forget the day the sun broke through that long, grey, winter slumber in early Spring. Everyone skipped class (teachers included), and skipped down to the town park for a picnic. We left as much skin bare as possible, desperate to capture any Vitamin D shining down from the beautiful blue sky. There were interpretive dance groups, hula-hoopers, and a vast array of happy hooligans springing to life like wildflowers in the golden rays. After enjoying all the festivities, I remember checking my phone to calculate the temperature in Fahrenheit instead of Celsius.... It was only 58F degrees! And it actually felt warm - dare I say?
This long rant is meant to explain how incredibly adaptable the body is, and when exposed to a change, how quickly it will acclimate to your surroundings. Although transitions are difficult, after a period of time, you and your physiology will adjust. So this winter, try to be open to the elements instead of hiding from them. Welcome the winter just like you would the summer, and you might enjoy it a little more.
10 Tips for Staying Warm this Winter
1. Hydrate with warm water - Skip the cold and cool water, and instead opt for warm or hot. Our internal body is 98 degrees. When you drink room-temperature or ice water, your body has to work to warm it up. I'd recommend filingl a vacuum-insulated water bottle or large portable mug with warm water in the morning, and take it with you all day. Sip on it anytime you get a chill, or as needed throughout the day to hydrate. Add a slice of lemon or orange for flavor!
2. Cook with warming spices - Warming up from the inside out means adding a little heat to your meals. These are a few of my favorite warming spices and herbs flavors: Cinnamon, Smoked Paprika, Clove, Cumin, Turmeric, Ginger, and Black Pepper. Use these fresh or dried in as many dishes as you can, including steeped as tea! While each of these have their own distinct health properties, they all promote internal warmth and circulation.
3. Eat spicy foods - Cayenne pepper is just one example of a health-promoting spicy food. It fights inflammation, boosts the immune system, clears congestion, and aids in natural pain relief. Plus, it'll heat you up! Sprinkle a tiny pinch into a concoction of lemon, honey, ginger, and hot water for a refreshing morning tonic, or simply add it to your favorite foods throughout the winter. Also try to include more spicy peppers into your meals, if you can tolerate them.
4. Sip on soup - Although it sounds boring, soup can be as flavorful and diverse as you desire it to be. Eating soups, stews, and broths that contain plenty of herbs, spices, fiber, protein, and healthy fats will help you stay full, hydrated, warm, and satisfied throughout the day.
5. Brew some tea - Obvious, I know. But necessary. If your body handles coffee well, of course indulge in your favorite brewed beans. Otherwise, get cozy with a roasted chicory root tea blend in the morning, and some chamomile in the evening. Or any other flavor you enjoy.
6. Eat ethnically - This winter, diversify your palate by cooking outside the norm. Thai curry with coconut milk and lemongrass. Miso soup with black sesame seeds, seaweed, and green onion. Black bean enchiladas with a roasted butternut squash cashew cheese sauce. These are all to come soon on my blog, so stay tuned, but in the meantime, type "warming foods" into google and see what you find.
7. Make or buy a microwavable heating pad - I like these better than electric blankets. They gradually become closer to room temperature over about 1 hour, allowing you to become comfortable and neutral with your surroundings. Heat it up and throw it under your blankets right before hitting the shower at night, that way your bed is warm and welcoming, and you won't have to hit cold sheets and tense up. As the heat disperses, you can fall asleep gently.
8. Breathe deeply - If you've ever taken a hot yoga class, you might remember the instructor at some point telling you to exhale deeply with a wide open mouth, maybe even sticking out your tongue. This releases heat from inside the body. So you can imagine that the opposite will help to warm up. Try taking a deep breath through your nose (count to 6 or 8), and then slowly push the air back out with your lips sealed, gently restricting the airflow by making a whispering sound with the back of your throat. Try this for about a minute, and see if you feel any more comfortable in your space.
9. Exercise, just do it - Yes it's cold and miserable outside, but get yourself to a gym, yoga class, or even embrace the environment, and get your body moving! If you're home for the day, make some space in your living room and follow a 15-60 minute video to get your heart rate up and sustain it. This will help regulate your blood pressure, blood sugar, and temperature control.
10. When in doubt, phone a friend, dance or laugh - You want to get your body loose and relaxed, because too often the cold temperatures force our muscles to get stuck in a state of contraction, which contributes to shoulder and neck tension, headaches, and just plain being cold. So just do what you need to do, and limbo yourself free. Call a friend and walk around the room while you talk. Shut your office door and dance. Watch or listen to comedy to get you giggling, whatever you have to do to get out of the chair!
That's all for now, I hope this helps! Please let me know if you need more tips, I'd be happy to help.
Cheers & thanks for reading!