Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Even with the daylight hours lately, we still have quite a bit of winter left. Good health – both physically and mentally – might require a little bit more effort than in the summer but can still be achieved and maintained though this homestretch before spring. Here are some of the things I do to stay healthy and happy.
Go outside every day. Daylight is essential. So many functions in our bodies slow down or suffer with the lack of daylight – even if the sun doesn't shine it still matters if we're exposed to outside light. I make sure to get at the very least a couple of hours outside every day. If the weather is crappy, I dress accordingly and stoke the stove before I leave the house. The oxygen also plays a huge role for our brains and general well being. While outside I try to find something that will get my aerobics up, to really flush my system with fresh air and energy.
Herbal teas. I drink several cups of herbal tea every day to load up on vitamins and minerals essential for things like immune system, organs and blood functions. Nettle tea is known for it's high content of iron, among many other things, and gives me the extra energy needed to cope with short days and dreary weather. I find mint tea to be very invigorating during days of hard work outside and I usually drink ginger tea after a meal to aid digestion, even if it means I have to buy the ginger in a store.
For a mild, well-tasting cup of tea it's usually enough to put the dried herbs in a strainer and soak for a few minutes straight in the cup or kettle, but to really make the most of the herbs and extract more of the vitamins and minerals, soaking the herbs over night is not a bad idea. For a potent batch of nettle tea, I take one ounce of dried herbs, put in a quart size mason jar and fill the jar with boiling water and let it sit for 4-8 hours. The beverage is good both cold as is or reheated as tea.
Colorful food. A diet heavy on fresh, organic produce, good fats and wholesome grains is of course important year round, but in this sometimes so bleak season, we fill our kitchen with red, orange, purple, green, yellow, gold, blue and green – each color representing an organic crop from our root cellar loaded with health benefits. Put together, the rainbow palette on our plates lifts both our senses and our spirits. Colorful food is also often linked with a high nutritional value, antioxidants among others.
Fermented food. Sauerkraut, apple cider vinegar and other fermented, live bacteria food is highly valued for their many healthful properties and are a daily part of our diet. This is also an excellent way to store produce through the winter, and, there is no end to the range of colors fermented produce can add to a meal.
Garlic. The one maybe most known and acclaimed immune defense booster and an important medicinal addition to anyone's diet.
Fruits and berries. A jar of raspberries poured over yoghurt or blueberries left outside to slightly freeze and then mixed with milk-like ice cream or cranberry sauce in thick layers on toast. Or peaches, canned golden peaches kept in our cellar and it is really not stored fruit I'm eating, but rather like stored summer sun, released in the dark February evenings.
Natural skincare. Skin exposed to cold, dry air gets dry and cracked and I keep a jar of natural lotion within reach as well as a lip balm in the pockets of each of my jackets. DIY skin care products are easy to make and instructions readily available online. I use bee wax infused with pine sap on my hands, a native American remedy. Due to the wood stove, the air in our house is often very dry and that also dries our skin. Lard from our pigs can be used as skin lotion and whenever I put some in the pan as frying grease, I rub it in my hands too.
There's no reason to let winter get the best of you – rather it can be a great season to enjoy the outdoors and strengthen up before the busy season kicks in again. Don't forget to rest and to smile and before you know it, spring will be here again.
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