From the Mechanic’s Bench: Winter Self-Care

 

During the winter months, our mechanics will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

In this article, Anneka Kmiecik highlights self-care tips for winter and biking.

 

I think winter is beautiful. I love the soft snow piled on sleeping gardens and the steam rising off downtown in the morning sunlight. After a chilly bike ride–the wind nipping at my cheeks and my breath coming out in dragon puffs–I love walking into my home and feeling toasty. But even as much as I love winter, the short days, below zero temperatures, and howling Canadian winds can wear me down, especially when I’m out on a bike. So what to do? SELF CARE!

Here are some of my favorite self care tips:

 

  • FOOD: Your body burns more calories working to stay warm. I pack some nutrient-dense snacks–nuts, chocolate, dried fruits–in my bag so I can refuel after riding in the cold. I also cook more with cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, garlic, chili, cumin, pepper, and other spices associated with warming foods. Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that foods have cooling, warming, or neutral characteristics. And in winter, I seek out warming foods to add to the warming effects of my body.
  • SKIN: Although we might not realize it, winter quickly dehydrates us. I make a concerted effort to drink lots of water, which is good for my brain and my skin. I carry lip balm with me (and use it frequently). And I have a tub of Shea butter to slather on my hands.
  • MUSCLES: It’s harder for our muscles to warm up when it’s only 15 degrees out. Taking a few moments to stretch calves, hamstrings, and quads can help a lot. And don’t forget a few shoulder and neck circles to get out the kinks from being hunched up in the cold!
  • MIND: Do things that help you relax and feel positive. I like putting a few drops of a favorite essential oil in the bathtub and then taking a warm shower. If you’re a bath person, a mineral salt soak is heavenly. Put up some bright colors in your room to keep the gloom away or consider adding a full spectrum light.
  • LET YOURSELF TAKE A BREAK: Not feeling the bike ride today? That’s OK! We all have days where we need to rest and let our bodies rejuvenate. Take time to listen to your body and rest when you need it.

Those are a few of my favorite tips. How about you? What do you do to take care of yourself in the winter?

– Anneka Kmiecik