Winter Self Care from the Co-op


This year, more people than usual are reporting they they’re stressed. More of us have trouble sleeping, feel overwhelmed by distance learning and working, and feel lonely and disconnected. What a year we’ve had in 2020!

While there are certain things we can’t change, there’s one thing we can do — take better care of ourselves in ways that work with our new routines and altered responsibilities. When we care for ourselves, we feel better and are better positioned to take care of others.

Family Walking in Snowy Woods

Get Out and Exercise

We can’t do anything about the cold, so we might as well embrace it! Here are a few of our favorite ideas for getting out and getting moving — an important way to take care of ourselves.

  • Did you know you can alter your tennis shoes to give them better grip in snow and ice? Google it if you feel brave and want to give year-round winter running a shot.
  • Have fun in your yard! Fill old spray bottles with colored water and decorate the snow. Make ice luminaries (check out the awesome local Wintercraft kits and book we carry). Go for a walk in the moonlight the next time there’s fresh snow.
  • Head to your local park and ski, skate, sled, or snowshoe! Many parks rent or lend equipment. Repeated trips up the local sledding hill can be great exercise for you and your family. Or just wander around one of the dozens of beautiful parks in the Twin Cities, leave your phone at home, and practice shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, a Japanese practice of connecting the senses with nature.

Winter Soup with Greens

Eat Well

Yes, we are a food co-op, so we wouldn’t want to skip over the power of healthy eating as an important way to take care of ourselves. What we eat can impact our immunity and gut health profoundly. So while winter is a great time to enjoy comfort foods, there are also many ways to tweak a recipe to increase its nutritional benefits.

  • Try substituting protein powder for a quarter of the flour in your next batch of banana bread or muffins (Sprout Living is a staff favorite for ingredient purity and quality).
  • Blend some cooked carrots into the cheese sauce the next time you make Annie’s Mac and Cheese for the kids.
  • Grab a bag of Wholesun Deep Immune or Om Immunity Mushroom powder and add a teaspoon to your coffee or cocoa or stir a few scoops into homemade soup. Speaking of soup – what a perfect vehicle for all things healthy! Ginger, garlic, onions, miso paste (try the South River Chickpea Miso), shiitake mushrooms from the produce department, a hot pepper or two, and a handful of fresh herbs can all be added to homemade stock, bone broth, or a veggie broth base. Then add whatever veggies you’re in the mood for or have on hand.
  • Finally, add fermented foods to any meal – kefir, kimchi, curtido, kombucha, etc – immunity starts in the gut!

Get Well Soon

If you’re just starting to feel cruddy, grab a bottle of MegaFood Immune Defense or Wishgarden KickAss Immune and dose up right away to help promote immune strength. Andrographis is a staff favorite herb that supports an immune system under attack. If you can get ahead of it, consider preventative immune support in the form of vitamin D, vitamin C, zinc lozenges, elderberry, and astragalus. There are capsules, tinctures, syrups, and gummies, so we can find something that will be easy to take.

Woman Sleeping

Get Rest

Good sleep hygiene is so important, particularly during times that are more stressful than normal.

  • First, turn off your phone and give yourself permission to not work or think about stressful topics for the hour before bed. The break from blue light is important for your body to recognize that it is indeed night and time to rest.
  • Magnesium is a fantastic mineral to promote relaxation. It can be taken internally or used topically in lotion, oil, or bath form, particularly helpful if you wake up with sore muscles or cramps. We offer Natural Factors chewable magnesium for kids (bubble gum flavor!) as well.
  • Our wellness staff recommends Herb Pharm’s Bedtime Spray – the herbal blend promotes a sense of calm and rest while a mug of chamomile tea can do the trick and feels cozy. Try a diffuser with a calming essential oil blend like local Pranarom’s Sleep Aid or Kids Sleep, or, for grown-ups, a drop of sandalwood or jasmine on your collarbone or wrists before bed.
  • Do you have five minutes? You might find a guided meditation to listen to, such as Tara Brach’s meditations. There are numerous options online, including guided visualizations for kids if you’re not the only one who needs help finding calm after a hectic day. And finally, consider playing some soothing music and dimming the lights.

Splurge with a Face Mask

Treat Yourself

Having something to look forward to on a cold, gloomy day can be just what the doctor ordered. First, take a minute to think about what you’re really craving.

  • If you need some pampering, how about a warm bath with Epsom salts or a Pacha bath bomb? For an easy facial, check out Acure and Andalou’s single-use facial masks. If you’re wishing for a pedicure, BeeSpa cream is fantastic for rough, dry skin, and we have brand new nail polish colors in from Mineral Fusion.
  • For winter-dry hair, a hair mask with Zatik Black Seed Hair Serum can rehydrate your locks, or a DIY fave is mayo, lemon juice and a few drops of rosemary essential oil (just make sure to double shampoo after either treatment).
  • If you want to kick back with a good book, the co-op has numerous choices, from local herbal guides to dreamy cookbooks. Curl up with a cup of Gaia Golden Milk or Four Sigmatic Mushroom Cocoa and learn how to make sourdough or identify yarrow! Oh yeah – we also have some excellent books for the younger family members – Kate DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series, young adult novels, and adorable, drool-proof board books.

Woman Brings Groceries to Grandparents

Be Kind

This year has been hard for innumerable reasons, and for many of us, not being able to hug a friend or see a co-worker’s smile behind their mask has been disheartening. So consider kindness as another way to care for yourself. Be generous, breathe deep, don’t jump to judgment, remember that kids are having a hard year too, say thank you, smile with your eyes, and take care of your friends, family, and community. This too shall pass!

Stop by our wellness department if you’d like help! Staff members are always ready to help and have a wealth of ideas and suggestions for taking better care of yourself.

Discover winter skin care tips and more self-care suggestions in our article outlining 8 tips to minimize stress.