From the desk of Kristen Lutz, LMT, MS... Ahh, New England in the wintertime. There really is nothing like it. Instantly I think of fewer hours of daylight so it’s dark when you wake up and dark when you get home. And how ‘bout those wind chill factors that cripple our ability to take one step outside? Or better yet, the seemingly endless snowstorms that leave us shoveling, nay, digging our cars out of their respective place of dwelling? Like I said, ‘ahh, New England in the wintertime, there really is nothing like it’.
The great thing about the cold (yin) is that it doesn’t exist without heat (yang). So instead of dwelling on the cold, let’s celebrate the opportunity the winter months provide. You heard me correctly. Let’s thank the winter months for fewer hours of daylight, cold and bitter winds, and relentless snowstorms. When life hands you a shovel of snow, I say let’s make snow cones! Here are 3 simple ways to knock the chills right out of your bones!
1. Warm-lotion massage Purchase a favorite hand/body lotion/cream. I highly recommend EveryDay Shea Body Lotion. You can find a 32oz bottle at Whole Foods or at www.everydayshea.com for $14.95. It contains unrefined shea butter (therefore it contains true healing and moisturizing properties), antioxidants, it’s paraben-free, fragrance-free and has not been animal-tested. The product is also from a fair trade company.
Instructions: 1. Warm a small pot of water on the stove until the water starts to steam (NEVER place a bottle of oil/cream/lotion in boiling water) 2. Remove the pot from the stove and place on a hot plate/trivet 3. Place a bottle of lotion/cream in the water for 5-10 minutes
Apply the warmed lotion/cream to one arm and hand at a time. Work in a kneading manner to warm up the muscles and tissues. You can then start to explore by using your finger/thumb points and knuckles to work the lotion/cream.
To improve circulation, massage your fingers first, then hand, and finish with your forearm. You want to massage in a direction that moves towards your heart. Switch to the other arm.
2. Foot soak You don’t need any fancy foot spa with bubbles and massage for this. We can leave Dr. Scholl out of it for now. Although, if you have one, this is a great time to break it out! For those of us that don’t have that luxury, here is all you will need.
Designate a plastic or glass bowl in your home that is large enough (and flat enough at the bottom) to fit your feet. If you do not have one, try your local dollar store or a craft/party store. You can officially designate this as your foot soak bowl from now on.
Basic Foot Soak ½ cup Epson Salt 4 drops of an essential oil of your choice (optional) Steep ingredients in 1 gallon of hot water for 5 minutes before soaking feet
Chamomile Tea Foot Soak 4 bags chamomile tea 1/8 cup dried parsley 4 drops of an essential oil of your choice (optional) Steep ingredients in 1 gallon of hot water for 10 minutes before soaking feet
Essential Oil Ideas: peppermint, lavender, lemon, orange, eucalyptus, mint
Instant Foot Massage: Add marbles to the bottom of the bowl to rub your feet over while soaking. Soak your feet for 15 minutes and get ready to feel all warm and cozy!
3. Heat while you sleep This involves something as simple as a hot water bottle. At night, turn down the heat in your bedroom, fill a hot water bottle with hot water from the kettle, cap it, and slide it under the covers. The bottle will heat your sheets for up to 9 hours!
Benefits: The heat alleviates aches and cramps, and encourages your body to better heat itself and increase circulation. You will also wake up with softer skin and less frizzy hair because the dry, warm heater air didn’t suck all the moisture out of the room. You can further protect your skin from the hot water bottle by wrapping it in a pillowcase.
Eco-friendly: Zero energy is used during the 9 hours. The red or blue bottles are made of latex rubber. They last for years and keep your water the hottest. But if you have latex allergies or are averse to buying non-recyclable rubber you can by a bottle made of thermoplastic material that is odorless and recyclable. Search for “Transparent Classic Hot Water Bottle - Made in Germany” on Amazon.com.
Budget-friendly: You’ll save quite a few bucks on your utilities. The original red and blue latex bottles run about $4-5 whereas the non-latex kinds will cost you about $20.