Inspiring lifestyles

Three ways to care for yourself following winter hibernation

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist

I love the springtime because of the possibilities and hopefulness it offers as nature never lets us down.

The countryside can look so bleak in winter, but in reality everything is simply resting, restoring itself and conserving its energy. So when the sun starts to shine and the days warm up, everything is ready to burst out with newness and freshness to exploit its full potential.

At the start of winter, I read a blog about how people go within and, like much of the natural world, adopt an attitude of hibernation. It prompted me to think differently about things: Could we be happier if we saw ourselves and our behaviour reflected in those seasonal flows?

Certainly, the cold, grey days have not bothered me as much as usual because I have appreciated lighting the fire and acknowledging that this is a time to slow up, rest and get ready – for spring and growth.

So as we begin to emerge from our hibernation, what do we need to do to care for ourselves effectively? Hydration, movement and a quiet mind are key and here is why:

1. Raise your energy levels by hydrating your mind and body

During the winter, most of us spend a lot of our time inside. But life indoors can be very dehydrating. There is central heating, hot fires and the electromagnetic fields of WiFi networks and mobile phones. Computers and other electrical equipment all produce heat when we use them, but all of these things take their toll on the levels of water content in our cells.

Indeed, according to the Hydration Foundation: “We are 99% water molecules and even a 2% reduction in hydration leads to measurable cognitive loss.” It is certainly a pity that more schools do not realise this fact as reduced hydration levels affect everything from the amount of energy an individual has, to their mood, their ability to concentrate, their hunger levels and their ability to feel joyful.

But the solution is easy: Simply drink more water, ideally eight glasses a day.  Build it up slowly, especially if you currently do not consume that much, or indeed any.

A really beneficial way to start your day is with a big glass (eight to 12 oz) of water, with a pinch of pink Himalayan or sea salt and/or a squeeze of lemon. If you make it the first thing you do, you will give your organs a really good soak and get the hydration message straight into your cells and brain. But do not be tempted to use table salt as it does not contain the same essential minerals as other forms. 

Plants and seeds can also hydrate us too. So add a tablespoon of ground chia seeds to your water and/or daily smoothie. Chia seeds form ‘gel water’, which is what we find inside plants – think of succulents, such as the Aloe vera.

Scientists have also recently discovered gel water inside our cells. This means they can absorb it instantly, giving us a great deal more energy and allowing the water to stay in our body for use rather than going straight through us. Find out more by viewing this TEDtalk by Dr Gerald Pollack.  

A daily smoothie, which includes hydrating green veg, fruit, added ground chia and other seeds and nuts, will likewise provide you with long-lasting hydration – as will eating juicy fruit like apples. But you might also benefit from reading a book called Quench, which was released in 2018. Jam-packed with vital information you may not have considered before, it also provides a five-day ‘Quench’ plan to ensure optimum hydration.

Photo by Godisable Jacob on Pexels.com

2.Get moving

Once you become adequately hydrated, movement is important to encourage even more hydration at the cellular level. Many of us spend large chunks of time crunched up over our computer at a desk. But sitting in this way compromises your organs, and sitting still for long time periods has been deemed as harmful as smoking cigarettes. Not only is it dehydrating, but as an article in The Guardian once put it: “When you’re sitting, you’re one step from being dead.”

So make sure you get up and move. If you are focusing on hydrating yourself, a positive side effect is that your bladder will remind you to move, which will in turn increase your oxygen supply and improve your blood and lymph flow.

Elsewhere, standing desks have been found to increase productivity and reduce the number of sick days taken – but even just doing head-to-chin and small spinal twists while sitting will help.

Also make tiny, little movements before you get out of bed. When you see cats and dogs stretching as they wake up, they are helping the cerebral spinal fluid flow around the head and down the back, which means they both energise and detox themselves at same time.

In order to prepare your body for spring though, go out to get lunch rather than eat at your desk and take advantage of the vitamin D that the sun will help you produce. Or walk the dog more often, get off the bus one stop early or park a bit further than usual from your destination. These may sound like simple things, but they can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing.  

Spending time outside also aids sleep as sunlight is required to set our circadian rhythms – and our gut microbiota respond to these natural cycles positively too. Even better, spend time outside with a friend who makes you laugh in order to boost your energy levels and release health-giving hormones. It really is about looking for the magic in everyday life.

3. Learn to quiet your mind

Finally, train yourself to quieten your mind using meditation, mindfulness techniques or simply a walk in the park where you focus on nature rather than on what is going on in your head. It is refreshing, relaxing and reboots your thinking.

Moreover, all it takes is a bit practice, and the benefits are huge. By stimulating your vagus nerve in this easy way, you are taken out of a fight or flight response, which physiologically reduces your stress response.

You can do it anywhere and only 10 minutes a day will help boost your mood, your energy levels and help destress you. A really helpful app here is Headspace. Complementary medicine advocate Deepak Chopra’s meditation programme is also great and he has a new one starting at the end of March, so why not give it a go?

Anita Ramsden

Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. Anita is also a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

OTHER ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

Gut health: Twelve ways to nurture a healthy microbiome

Water: The essence of life

Six common meditation myths busted

Inspiring lifestyles

Water: The essence of life

nature water drops of water liquid
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

By Anita Ramsden, kinesiologist.

When people come for kinesiology sessions, a first, very important check is to understand just how hydrated they are – or not as the case may be.

Kinesiology is a useful tool here as it can be used to work out if they require more liquid and if so, what the optimum amount is for them. For most, it is between seven and eight glasses, or around two litres. But do bear in mind that tea, coffee and alcohol do not count towards this quota.

When muscle testing, you can ask the body, “do you need one glass, two glasses?” etc and keep going until you get a lock on the muscle. This means that any discoveries are always tailored to the individual.

Why drink more water?

On returning for another session, people always tell me how much better they feel as a result of being hydrated properly. They feel more awake, experience fewer headaches, can think more clearly and may even start eating less as some apparent hunger pangs are, in fact, thirst signals. Many individuals also sleep better, suffer fewer aches and pains and see their complexion improve as remaining hydrated helps the body to flush out toxins.

Initially though, people often feel a little resistance to such a simple idea as drinking water. They say they do not care for the taste or they do not feel thirsty. But what I say is: “Why not try it – if only just to prove me wrong!”

For those who are unused to consuming a lot of water, it is important to increase your intake gradually, adding an extra glass each day. In this way, the cells in your body can get used to it and begin to absorb it properly.

As you start to increase the amount of liquid you consume, your thirst mechanism will become more efficient and your body might begin asking you to drink more. It is a surprising fact that, once you start to drink more water, you often start to feel more thirsty. This is because your body understands it is no longer in a drought situation and so feels able to ask for more.

After all, the human body is 75% water and 25% solid mass. Even on an average day without undertaking a lot of exercise, 2500ml of water leaves the body as urine, as air expelled from our lungs and as sweat through our skin.

If you read Patrick Holford’s brilliant book, Optimum Nutrition, he explains that our lungs are 90% water, our blood 82%, our brain 76% our muscles 75% and our bones, 25%.

As a result, if we are not taking in adequate amounts of liquid, our internal processes start to suffer – although the body does have its own drought management system to prevent dehydration and enable survival.

Woman Standing By Waterfall With Her Hands Raised
Waterfall

How to increase your water intake

I always advise clients to take a glass of water to bed with them at night and to drink it when they wake up. If you do so regularly, it will become a habit. You are at your most dehydrated first thing in the morning after sweating during the night and your body will love you for replenishing it so quickly.

Dr Batmanghelidj, who wrote a well-known book entitled ‘Your Body’s Many Cries for Water’, recommends that should you have trouble sleeping, take a glass of water and put a tiny pinch of salt (sea salt or Himalayan, if you have it) on your tongue. Do not allow it to touch the roof of your mouth, but let it dissolve in a bit of the water and swallow.

Be sure to ignore this advice if you have kidney problems or have been advised to avoid or cut down on salt though.

Once you have spent a few days getting used to the amount of water your body needs, fill a two-litre bottle up and ensure you drink this amount during the day. Stainless steel bottles are a great investment here as not only do they keep your drink nice and cold, but plastic bottles degrade over time and leach harmful plastic into the water.

If you are not keen on the taste of your local tap water though, simply fill a jug and let it stand for a while as the chlorine it contains will evaporate, leaving you with a sweeter, more palatable liquid. Restaurants always fill their well-iced water jugs ahead of time for this very reason. Alternatively, you can buy a water filter jug to remove any impurities.

During the winter months, adding lemon, mint, thyme or ginger to hot water also makes it more pleasant to consume and can easily be used as a replacement for tea and coffee. Lemon is particularly beneficial as it adds vitamin C, which is good for eliminating toxins. But cucumber is also a fantastic addition too as it is a good source of potassium, which can help lower your blood pressure.

alcohol background beverage citrus
Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

Does water have any side effects?

The first thing that people discover is that the more water that goes into their system, the more needs to come out. The process is similar to that seen with a dried-up pot plant.

When you first start to water it, the soil is so dry, it just runs straight through. But after a little while, it takes up some of the water and rehydrates. This means that when you water it again, it is able to soak a lot more of the water up and retain it, so the plant can benefit.

It is for this reason that it is important to increase your intake over the course of a few days. But the great thing is that, as the water leaves your body, it also takes with it waste materials and toxins that the body has no need of, thereby purifying your system.

As a rule of thumb, according to Dr Batmanghelidj, healthy urine “should, ideally, be almost colourless to light yellow. If it begins to become dark yellow or even orange in colour, you are becoming dehydrated. This means the kidneys are working extra hard to get rid of toxins in the body in very concentrated urine”.

In fact, in his book, he demonstrates his belief that all too often, “you are not sick, you are thirsty”, using thousands of real-life case histories to prove his point. He provides the science behind the intricate workings of the body and shows how we need water, among other things, to keep our joints lubricated, which reduces arthritic pain, to prevent asthma by keeping our lungs hydrated, to reduce excess body weight and eradicate dyspeptic pain. In fact, he describes water as “a revolutionary, natural way to prevent illness and restore good health”.

One of the key factors here is that drinking water is an excellent way of keeping the digestive system working effectively. If the body is well hydrated, the large intestine is not looking to prevent any excess water from leaving the body. Therefore, taking in sufficient liquid can help to reduce constipation.

So as you can see, it truly is amazing just how many benefits can be gained from such a cheap, and easy-to-obtain, commodity – who would have thought it?

selfp

Anita Ramsden is a kinesiologist. She is emphatic about affecting positive change and her work encourages wellbeing for mind, body and soul. She is a member of the Kinesiology Federation.

 

MORE ARTICLES THAT MAY INTEREST YOU

How to benefit from the natural remedies on your doorstep

Discovering the delights of wild food

Kinesiology: The science of human movement