The nights have been closing in and we may be feeling a little off par.
We may not be exuding our usual spark and joie de vivre.
This time of year can evoke mixed emotions in many of us.
There are few of us who really look forward to winter the same way we anticipate spring and summer.
However winter can be an opportunity for rest and renewal of our precious selves. Maybe we can relish and enjoy this time of year and use it as a means to pamper and look after ourselves.
Think roaring log fires, steaming hot chocolate, mulled wine (in moderation of course!); slow cooked casseroles and the warmth of hearth of home.
Home becomes especially important this time of year, as our natural instinct is to draw within, close the curtains and snuggle with our family and loved ones and even our pets!
There are elements that can bring a cheer and a greater sense of wellbeing to those winter days and that can enhance any home or work environment.
Aromatherapy can have a surprisingly profound effect on our mood and state of mind. For instance orange oil has a heavenly uplifting scent which can improve overall mood and can bring to mind pleasing images of orange groves in a sunshine paradise. There is also the more traditional lavender oil which many find invaluable for relaxation on all levels.
In ancient Egyptian times it was used in embalming rituals and in cosmetics.
The ancient Romans also recognized lavender for its healing and antiseptic properties. In Victorian times it was valuable as a cure-all and it held pride of place in medicine cupboards in almost every household.
It was also very fashionable as a perfume among Victorian ladies, as an addition to housekeeping and it was also commonly used to repel insects.
In modern day times it is used to relieve stress, depression and to promote sleep. Simply put two drops on your pillow before retiring.
A little goes a long way. It can also be used to relieve everything from headaches to exhaustion and even hangovers!
When applied to the forehead area it can alleviate congestion of the sinuses.
Tea tree oil could also be a wonderful addition to your medicinal cabinet this time of year as it can ward off bugs and boost the body’s defences.
Take a tea tree bath at the first sign of cold or flu symptoms by adding 8 -10 drops to a warm bath.
You can also put a few drops on a tissue and inhale at regular intervals.
It can help when you are not feeling quite ‘yourself’.
It soothes the emotions particularly depression and relieves the symptoms of PMT.
It helps women to feel positively feminine and is reputed to help enormously to enhance libido in both sexes.
It can also be used as a perfume simply by applying to the pulse points.
Your body may also need more reinforcements this time of year.
If you are someone who gets a lot of colds or is prone to catching “everything going” give your body the support it needs with a herbal remedy such as Echinacea which boosts the white blood cells.
If you do have a cold it reduces the duration by a couple of days.
The Vogel range is particularly good.
The founder of the herbal range was Swiss naturopath Alfred Vogel who took Echinacea for most of his life and never succumbed to an illness.
He died at the ripe old age of 94.
Many people also find they suffer from some or all of the symptoms of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which can cause a depressive mood as well as craving for carbohydrates, weight gain, low energy and feeling generally off form.
The person feels like themselves again once spring arrives.
It is caused by the lack of sunlight that affects us poor souls in the northern hemisphere.
Thankfully there is an antidote.
Light boxes and alarms (phototherapy) are increasingly popular for those who find this time of year challenging.
They work by simulating the wonderfully therapeutic effects of the sun.
Lumie.com is a great source of these products.
They have been scientifically proven to alleviate the symptoms of the winter blues naturally.
Taking advantage of the sunny days we are blessed with during the winter and indulging in a walk at lunchtime bundled up warm will also do wonders.
If you have the luxury to do so allow yourself an extra hour in bed in the mornings if circumstances permit or tuck yourself in an hour earlier at night.
I have always firmly believed we should be behaving more like bears in wintertime!
It has been shown that an alarmingly high percentage of Irish people are lacking in this essential vitamin due to low levels of sunshine.
A new study of 250 school children in Mongolia who had low blood levels of vitamin D and who were given a daily supplement showed that it reduced their risk of respiratory infection by half.
These are quite astounding findings.
The dosage given to these children was 300IU (International Units) of vitamin D.
As well as the benefits for bone health, research into this vitamin has shown it can ward off conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders and even certain cancers.
The main food sources are oily fish, egg yolks and fortified foods but it is quite difficult to get our daily requirements from food alone.
Take it from October to April and if you are someone who spends a lot of time outdoors the remainder of the year you may not need to supplement during the summertime.
A simple test from your GP will confirm if your levels are on the low end of the spectrum.
Finally surrounding ourselves with people in whose company we feel uplifted and supported is hugely important.
Socialising by an open fire can be comforting as well as strengthening the feeling of connection to those we love.
“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire, it’s a time for home” ~ Edith Sitwell
Love & Aloha,
Sinead (Holistic Therapist)