How many times in 2020 have you heard the cliché, it’s been a year like no other? 

As cheesy as it is, it’s been exactly like that. Every person has had their trials and tribulations, every country has had its wars and natural disasters over the last few decades, but there has been nothing like this. Nothing so global, nothing that hit home on so many levels. Do you ever remember, in your lifetime, being so affected by something that people on the other side of the world are also so affected by? Everybody in the whole world’s day to day existence has changed because of COVID, so yeah, it’s been a year like no other.

Now, dear Canadians, we’re heading into a cold winter. Lots of us are in some form of lockdown. Things are a little bit cold, gloomy, and isolating. The festive season will soon be over and it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself during these isolating times.

We have some tips for you to take care during winter and lockdown. It’s really important to maintain your physical and mental health as best you can, as it’s increasingly difficult to emerge from a crisis if you let yourself go with bad habits.

Here are habits worth keeping that are easy to keep, and that keep you in touch with the importance of self care.

Eat lots. But eat well.

A collage of a salmon and a cake to represent healthy eating.
@mollusk_collage

Humans are a lot like their surroundings. In cold, freezing winters, bears hibernate. Lots of creatures go into hibernation. They eat copious amounts of food before they hibernate so they don’t have to come out to eat. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with eating lots of food during the winter. But make sure you eat well.

It’s tempting to reach for alcohol and sweets when it gets colder, but excessive consumption of these foods creates a weak, dull, atonic digestion. That leads to poor assimilation of foods and nutrients and leads to energy depletion and boredom.

Eat lots of vegetables, beans and eat lean meats at least once a week. Excessive consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, is also associated with health risks. Keeping red meat to a minimum of once a week and enjoying fish and chicken in between minimises the development of lots of chronic health problems.

Enjoy warming, spicy herbs such as turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and cumin. Winter is a great time to get creative with Mexican, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. These herbs don’t just help our bodies stay warm and our blood circulating, but they help keep our digestion functioning well.

Whole grains such as oats, wheat, brown or black rice, and quinoa promote good digestion and provide a low GI source of energy. They’re perfect breakfast foods in the winter! Plus, whole grains contain a whole host of nutrition in the outer parts of the grain.

Drink tea.

A collage art of a woman with a teapot on her head.
@lis_tale_collage

Tea is man’s most comforting beverage and his best way to take medicine. Herbal tea is all together a source of nutrition, a comfort factor, a medicine, and a ritual. In the winter, things move slower. You perhaps don’t need as much coffee as you drink during the spring and summer. Enjoy a black tea in the morning or a chai instead of coffee.

Make a batch of chai tea you can use throughout winter. Include in it black tea (or a non-caffeinated alternative like roasted dandelion), and warming spices like cloves, ginger, pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom. These herbs keep your blood moving throughout the winter, help you digest your food well in times when you’re not as physically active, and they taste delicious. Black tea is rich with antioxidants that the body needs for stress adaptation and damage control.

Drink with milk or a non-dairy alternative. Milk is one of the most complete food sources on this planet. If you digest it well, add it to your tea for added nutrition, taste, and texture. Otherwise, any nut milk tastes great too!

Keep your body moving.

Did you know there are fluids in your body (like lymph) that don’t actually have a pump. Blood has a heart to pump it around. You can lie flat on your body and blood will keep moving. But serous fluids like lymph don’t have the luxury of the pump, so what moves it around? You do — by exercising your body.

Lymph is one of the fluids that carries toxins away to the places they can be excreted, it moves infected fluids to nodes so that the immune system can deal with it, and helps the body absorb fats through the digestive system. As you breathe and move your body, lymph is transported around. And moving lymph is healthy lymph!

Getting motivated for exercise isn’t easy when it’s really cold outside. So make a space for yourself inside that you can do exercise. Use your body to do weight training such as push ups, sit ups, and yoga poses. You can train in flexibility in your living room, too. You don’t need any equipment other than a yoga mat to do these exercises.

If you leave near a swimming pool or a gym, that’s an added bonus. Swimming in a heated pool is a great form of cardiovascular training that is appropriate in the winter. If it’s available, a spa and a sauna are a perfect addition to a self-care gym and swimming session.

Walk outside for at least 15 minutes per day.

A collage art of a moth sitting on the earth in the middle of a forest. There are butterflies around too.
@rachelhopeartist

Ain’t no cholesterol getting transformed into vitamin D while you’re sitting in the office or on the couch. You have to get outside for at least 15 minutes a day. Biology aside, outdoor activity is a known antidepressant. The closer you are to a forest, an ocean, or a greenspace, the better.

Walking in nature is proven to better oxygenate your body and brain and encourage feelings of wellness, joy and peace. If all you do is walk to the local park and smoke a joint or walk around the block, it’s better than not getting any sunlight or outdoor activity. If you can make it out to the woods at least once a week, all the better for your physical and mental health.

Take baths… and cannabis helps.

All of these simple tips for maintaining yourself can be wrapped up in a simple term: self-care. Within that, there’s indulgent self-care like taking baths with your favourite cannabis vape or CBD hot chocolate

Remember, once a week, you should indulge in what you love the most. If it’s hanging out with your animals in front of a movie, do it. If it’s reading a book all day long, do it. If it’s putting on Alan Watts, grabbing your vape, and chilling in the bath for 2 hours, do that too. 

Don’t get too caught up in the stressors of the current state of the world. You can always make time to pause and breathe and dedicate time to staying sane and happy. Your best chance at emerging from the COVID crisis and an isolating winter as your best version is through TLC, self-care and cannabis helps.

Let us know how you’re taking care of yourself this silly season. Drop your advice in the comments below.

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