Sarah Strang, founder of skincare and wellness tea brand Tea and Tonic, shares her top tips for keeping well and happy this winter...
Winter makes us all feel sleepy and there’s some science to this. We produce more of the sleepy hormone melatonin as our exposure to sunlight decreases. We also spend more time indoors, with the heating ramped up and windows often closed which can make us feel lethargic. When we do venture out, the blast of fresh air is fantastic in so many ways, but the colder climate definitely brings its own added stress to our poor skin.
Building your resilience is your best way to protect yourself against these everyday stresses and keep healthy this winter. Here are 5 simple ways you can do this:
Our water intake can wane during winter. Water is critical for helping to keep our body oxygenated, functioning well and it helps eliminate toxins which can make us sluggish or open to infections. Aim to drink 1.5L – 2L a day; that’s around 6-8 mugs or medium size glasses. If you can’t face cold water, add a slice of lemon with hot water or make herbal tea your go-to which gives the added benefit of antioxidants whilst being a great source of hydration too. And if you’re starting to feel like you’re coming down with a cold, cough, sore throat etc then reach for Peppermint, Lemon, Ginger or Turmeric tea boasting anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-microbial benefits too. Try adding a spoon of honey to your tea too to help soothe your throat.
Supercharge little and often
Eating well should be a joy rather than an added stress. Instead of tackling new recipes or regimes you’re not comfortable with or able to fit into your day look for easy switches.
Taking adaptogen herbs is one very simple way to boost your everyday functioning. These clever little herbs help strengthen and build our resilience allowing us to adapt to the daily stresses we face. They also support our skin, gut, sleep, immunity and mental wellbeing.
Look out for Schisandra Berry, Amla, Gotu Kola, and Ashwagandha as some of our favourites. Or even the more commonly found Turmeric, Lavender, Liquorice and Rosemary which whilst have been found to have adaptogenic properties and are great health tonics too. Add them into your cooking or even easier just drink an adaptogen tea through the day. These tonics can be great for helping to improve skin, fight fatigue, improve mental clarity and strengthen our defences.
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
The shorter days and temperature change can disrupt the quality of our sleep, making us feel like we need more. Focus more on the quality rather than trying to sleep more than you normally would. For best sleep, keep your bedroom cool and dark (around 18°C). And the hours you sleep before midnight count as double the amount you might get after so try to hit the sack at 10pm rather than midnight. If you have trouble sleeping or staying asleep try bathing in mineral sea salts before you head off to bed as this can help relax the muscles - remember our first tip about hydration as bathing in salts dehydrates you. You could also add some lavender or other essential oils to help your body relax. If baths aren’t your thing, try a sleep tea and drink it a couple of hours before you go to bed. As mentioned previously, adaptogens are brilliant for helping sleep so as above, try to bring these into your everyday for a more restful night.
Try Tea and Tonic Golden Milk Inviting Sleep Tea to promote a peaceful night’s sleep.
The essentials in essential oils
If you’ve caught a cold or flu, you could be looking for ways to recover quicker. Essential oils have long been a natural way to aid recovery and with good reason as they provide many antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits.
Try zesty, expansive essential oils such as Eucalyptus, Lemon, Peppermint and Lavender to clear a head cold. Try warming essential oils such as Copaiba, Sweet Marjoram, Sandalwood and Vetiver for comfort and to help ease the general woes of being unwell.
To use essential oils, add a few drops to a diffuser, a hot bowl, a bath, or even a tissue.
Breathe Deep, Breathe Slow
Many of us take short, shallow breaths from our chests. This prevents us from clearing out our lungs and working out the diaphragm. It can even trigger your brain into thinking you are in distress which affects your body and mind. Your diaphragm is a muscle which needs to be exercised in order to keep it strong. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your upper belly. Focus on your hand moving as your belly raises and your hand on your chest staying still. Inhale through your nose and try to slow your breath down as you go. We love conscious breathing expert Melike Hussein of Breathzone London and found her techniques so powerful and instantly effective that we’ve worked with her to integrate this into all our Spa Therapies. Breathing deeply instantly brings calm and strength into your day.