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How to rise to the challenge if winter’s getting you down

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Welcome to one of the most challenging seasons for all of us – and even more so this year while we are navigating this temporary way of life.  Allowing our bodies and minds to work in harmony with winter just like nature intended is the key.

Fear, sadness and depression are emotions associated with winter.  Many of us can feel sad and depressed over the lack of sunshine, cold weather and longer nights.  At the moment we probably all feel we were forced into these feelings a little earlier due to the current health issues.  It’s not been easy for anyone.  However, if we can try to change our focus and attitude a little these next few months, it will help us all.

Organs associated with winter are the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands.  Our kidneys are the source of our life force energy, storing it as reserves to be drawn on during stress and change.  Allowing our bodies and minds to restore and replenish rests our adrenal glands and their function.  Overstimulation and exertion can deplete our life force energy, causing imbalance and illness.

So please enjoy these healthy tips to support your body and mind over winter:

Let go of fear:  Allow yourself to accept any adjustments with ease and let go of how you’re feeling.  Find the ability to adapt, flow and move like the trees that bend and flex in the wind.  This will rest your adrenal glands.  Fear of the unknown is highlighted for most of us now, so try to let go of this and just walk through each day as it comes, one day at a time, one step at a time.  Let’s be truly grateful that we wake up to one more day every day.  There is plenty of online info on the art of letting go.

“Fear and worry is praying for something you don’t want” – Anonymous

Meditation: Spend 10 minutes each morning or evening in guided meditation on any subject or a sleep story to slow our minds and focus on our breath only, which soothes the whole nervous system.  Apps worth trying are Calm, Headspace and Smiling Minds for all ages.

Physicality: Winter is not the time to overexert yourself with high physical activities, like taking up marathon training for the first time or high-intensity boot camp.  Ease the body down and swap running for walking.  Many are doing gentle yoga classes online, and there is chair yoga too if your body is a little compromised.  Rug up and tend to those gardening jobs, and of course have a good indoor declutter, which most of us have been doing.  Get those long-overdue photo albums done, expand your creative skills and do some cooking.  There’s always something new to learn.

Reflect, relax and nourish: This is a truly great time to make a list of each area of your life and see where it is or has been out of balance.  How can you bring your life back into balance? Where can you bend and flex a little more? Also journal your thoughts and feelings while in isolation, plus the good that you may have gained like an appreciation list – good to reflect on in 12 months.

Focus on the winter foods to support your immune system – parsnip, turnip, swede, potato, cauliflower, broccoli, beans, silverbeet, spinach, rhubarb, pears, apples, kiwifruit full of vitamin C.  Eat more of these in those slow-cooking casseroles, make soups from homemade bone broth, delish desserts, and use the aromatics of ginger, garlic, coriander, oregano, thyme, peppercorn and parsley for iron.  Our trolley should have mostly fresh foods and fewer processed or canned foods.  Be grateful for all the fresh produce we have available to us in abundance.

Start your day with a warm glass of water and a slice of lemon or celery juice. Wait 15 minutes, then enjoy a healthy breakfast to fuel your body, not just a cup of coffee.  You wouldn’t start your car with no fuel, so treat your body the same.  Ease off on the heavy carbs and sugars but be aware to still enjoy a balanced amount of carbs and protein together because they produce energy for the cells of the body.

Gut health: Our gut is our second brain and the most amazing laboratory, doing all sorts of processing and distributing to feed our bodies and keep our immune system healthy.  A large amount of serotonin – the happy hormone – is made in the gut then transported to the brain, so if our gut is not happy and working well, this affects our happy hormones and the brain. Maybe this is why there is so much anxiety, stress and depression now in society.  Gut cleanses can be good but seek advice first, or use psyllium husks, available at health shops or supermarkets. They are gluten-free fibre to sprinkle on your breakfast, soups or smoothies. They give a gentle, slow cleanse taken regularly. Take good probiotics and prebiotics daily, but seek advice first. Greek yoghurt is also good to build good gut flora. A healthy gut and healthy immune system may lead to a happier you.

Boost your immune supplement intake now, but always seek advice from your health or medical practitioner or pharmacist, and check that no natural supplements interfere with any medications you are taking – that’s very important.

Motivate and move your attitude: We all have a choice each day to reset our attitude. Will it be positive or negative? The choice is yours, so don’t blame others. Choose to watch or listen to more positive stuff and spend the least time possible on negatives because they drain our energy.  Just 10 minutes of some crazy dancing to uplifting music boosts the happy hormones, and you’ll feel fab afterwards.  Challenge your family, friends and household to only talk about positive stuff most of the time – even the weather.  We can’t change it but we do have a choice to look at it more positively.  Of course, there are times we need to chat about our worries, and that’s OK.  Diffusers in your home that gently infuse your surroundings with immune-boosting oil blends or happy blends can lift your spirits.  Soak in a warm bath with magnesium flakes to ease muscles and stress. Massage your ears’ many acupressure points around the edges and lobes three times once a day.  It feels good and improves your thinking, and it’s especially good just before you start work.

Keep connected to friends and family, and maybe volunteer some time to a cause that is supporting the community at the moment.  Reach out if you are feeling down and need support.  Remember, none of us are bulletproof all the time – it’s OK to ask for help.

Be kind to your body and mind in winter and it will look after you!

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant” – Anne Bradstreet

SHARON CAIRNS – Kinesiologist and author of Be the Best U and Wellness with the Seasons

For further wellness tips, follow Sharon on Facebook @beautywithbalance

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