fruits, vegetables, and juice on tableAfter sugar-filled days and late nights, the holidays can leave us feeling out of our routines. January is a great month to reset and focus on winter wellness. With quite a bit of winter left, we are trying to maintain small changes to boost our family’s physical and mental health. Here are the wellness practices we are currently prioritizing.

Time outside

It can be hard to find motivation to go outside when it’s cold! But getting fresh air increases the amount of oxygen supporting our immune systems. Increases in oxygen are also linked to elevations in serotonin so our moods are often better when we spend time outside. On more mild days we love to do beach walks and hikes. Winter is an ideal time to hunt along the shore for sea glass. We get inspiration for different local trails from Get Outside Cape Cod. My kids also think it’s fun to bundle up and “playground hop.” We pack or grab some warm drinks and snacks to enjoy in between stops.

Daily berries and greens

I like to top oatmeal with berries or do my one of my favorite mom hacks: in the morning stir frozen mixed berries into plain yogurt and by lunchtime it’s a delicious berry yogurt without all the added sugar. I also make lots of acai bowls. My kids love to have a little toppings bar with strawberries, bananas, shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, granola, and peanut butter.

For greens, I try to make either a daily salad or smoothie. Lately, I’m all about ease and am loving these blender bombs. I also make a kid-approved smoothie with 1⁄3 cup frozen chopped kale, ¾ cup almond milk, a handful of frozen cherries, a scoop of vegan chocolate protein powder, and a dash of cinnamon (serves two).

Meal prep for healthy snacks and treats

My go-to for meal prep and healthy recipes is nutritionist and cookbook author Elyse Kopesky. I love her philosophy that eating well isn’t about counting calories but about the quality of the food you are putting in your body. Her recipes focus on including healthy fats and nutrient-dense ingredients. Some of our favorites include her superhero muffins (allergy mamas: swap 3 T flax soaked in ½ cup of water for eggs, and 4 T coconut oil for butter; increase bake time by 5 minutes), molasses granola bars, and peanut butter cups.

Elyse also offers virtual seasonal meal-prepping classes, and the content can be accessed later if you are unable to join live or just want to refer back to it. In the December class she provided a weekly menu and shopping list. She also coordinated ingredients between meals to cut down on waste and cost. We made some delicious dishes such as sheet-pan lemon garlic chicken with crispy potatoes, roasted butternut squash lentil salad, coconut curry soup, and dark chocolate sweet potato brownies.

An immunity-boosting plan

When someone is feeling extra tired or is showing beginning signs of sickness, we incorporate turmeric shots and make this soup. It includes all the powerhouse ingredients like garlic, turmeric, and ginger, but the Israeli couscous keeps it kid-friendly. For an extra boost, roast a clove of garlic in some olive oil and serve on crusty bread alongside the soup.

My husband and I also take fire cider, a home remedy with a combination of apple cider vinegar, onions, garlic, and horseradish, made to strengthen the immune system. It has a tangy and spicy flavor. I recently came across Hany’s Harvest, which is carried locally at AMIE Bakery in Osterville. This brand incorporates wildflower honey, rosehips, and maple syrup so it’s a little bit sweeter than other brands I’ve tried. You can take it as a shot but I like to add sparkling water and have it as a mocktail while I’m cooking dinner.

Gratitude journaling

Writing in a gratitude journal is a common practice in the field of positive psychology. Simply keep a narrative or list of things for which you are grateful. I’ve also heard it described as looking for glimmers—tiny moments of peace and joy in each day. Whenever I am able to stick with this practice I have found that it shifts my mindset to expect positivity. This is a habit I hope to build with my kids in the upcoming year.

Salt caves

Beach days are my favorite way to recharge, so when I read about the Ocean Air Himalayan salt caves in Orleans I had to visit. Salt therapy is used frequently in Europe to treat respiratory conditions, joint pain, blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, low energy, cold/flu, and a variety of skin conditions. During a salt therapy session you walk across a heated floor of salt crystals and then rest in a lounge chair with a cozy blanket while you ingest microscopic salt particles for forty-five minutes. This isn’t very noticeable, although there may be a faint taste of salt on your lips by the end.

You can choose to do a guided meditation or listen to nature sounds. My sister and I did the guided chakra meditation. We left feeling so relaxed but also energized as the day went on. There’s a community cave, or you can book a smaller private room. Kids are welcome, but call ahead if you are including them.

I hope these ideas inspire you to create your own family wellness habits this year!

Leah Rockwell
Born and raised on Cape Cod Leah Rockwell grew up with a love for the ocean. She has always found the kid table the most interesting place to be and knew from a young age she wanted to pursue a career working with children. After studying child development at Bates College she moved to Boston where she received her Masters and CAGS degrees in school psychology from Tufts University. Since 2005 she has practiced school psychology. When she isn’t counseling and writing evaluations, you can find her trying to convince her own kids to play soccer. Leah resides on the Cape with her husband and two very energetic sons.


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