How to Keep your Body and Beauty in Balance when the Sun Doesn’t Shine

Fall is the season of letting go. And of all the things that we say goodbye to at this time of the year— alfresco dinners, beach days, an abundant garden, longer evenings— the sun is the thing I miss the most. I truly am a solar-powered creature. I feel deeply, deeply connected to the sun and to the earth, yet fall and winter gradually force me to retreat indoors, away from those life-giving aspects of nature.

Does this sound like you? What’s the best way to stay in balance in spite of reduced exposure to solar rays and lack of barefoot moments in the grass and sand? Here are a few of my top recommendations for fall and winter habits to keep your body and beauty in balance in the months ahead, if you live in a place that also lacks sunshine. I’ll be practicing these right along with you:

Prioritize morning light. Get 15 to 20 mins of light exposure every morning, outside if possible. It won’t always be sunny, but even a clouded sky in the morning is enough to balance your circadian rhythm and boost your mood. The light from a computer screen doesn't count! The more bright light exposure we have during the day, the more sleep-supporting melatonin is produced at night, studies have found. (Cool side note: melatonin may also impact gut health) Some people swear by a light box or sun lamp in the morning to mimic bright AM light, but I haven’t found this route easy to incorporate into my day. I’d rather aim for some time outdoors or near a window every morning.

Supplement vitamin D. I like a liquid D3, and I boost my dose significantly in the fall and winter to make up for lack of sun exposure. Talk to your doctor about your D level and the dose that will keep you feeling good, with strong immunity this season.

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Bring nature indoors. I like to incorporate elements of nature in my home all year, but in fall and winter it feels like a must because I don’t get outside into nature as often. Pinecones, pine boughs, pumpkins, fall leaves, and branches are natural elements that also work well inside at this time of year. I also love decorating with pretty stones, and any green plants that can’t survive outside that I want to preserve until next year (it makes my home and my south-facing windows feel a bit like a greenhouse!). See what other natural objects you can bring indoors during the fall and winter to boost your connection to the earth.

Know the dos and don’ts of lighting. Sadly, you cant simply turn on more lights around your house or your workplace and get the same physiological boost that you get from the sun. In fact, turning on lots of bright lights later in the evening can prevent your body from adequately preparing for sleep. Your pineal gland begins secreting melatonin, which helps you fall asleep easily, when the sun goes down in the evening, but LED lighting and devices that emit blue light (think TVs, smartphones, tablets) actually interfere with melatonin production, making it harder for you to get restorative beauty sleep.

Get infrared light. The infrared sauna, which uses infrared light to heat the body at lower temperatures than a traditional wood sauna, is rather new to me, but I plan to use it all winter long this year. Infrared saunas emit the same warming-from-within infrared rays given off by the sun, but without the ultraviolet light that we use sunscreen to block. A fire in a fireplace or firepit also emits infrared light that warms from within, so you could plan to get cozy around the fire more often this fall and winter too.  

Rely on other ways to support your immune system. Adaptogens like reishi, chaga, tulsi and astragalus, extra sleep, vitamin C, grounding root vegetables, extra zinc, turmeric, ginger and warm lemon water, manuka honey— there are so many amazing immune-boosters to incorporate at this time of the year to make up for the sun’s immune-boosting effects.

Embrace, rather than resist. Digging your heels in and resisting makes this natural transition even harder for your body (take it from me). This, too, shall pass and spring will of course arrive again. And the sun-filled yang months of spring and summer wouldn't be as balancing without the dark, damp, cool yin months that lie ahead. So I’ll be focusing on the autumn and winter things I enjoy, and staying warm as best as while I let nature take its course in the cycle of the seasons. And I will be following every sliver of sunshine that enters my windows, drinking hot teas, eating warm soups and stews, taking steamy baths, eating grounding foods and spicing them to create inner warmth. How about you?

For more inspiration that will help you stay in balance in autumn and winter, check out the Eat Pretty book series— each of which incorporates the shift of the seasons as it relates to beauty and health. Writing about the wisdom of the seasons and living my own advice has helped me embrace all 4 seasons for their own inherent beauty!

Do you live in a place where the sun shines less in fall and winter? How do you make up for the lack of sun exposure?

Build a Better Beauty Sleep Ritual

Osmia Night Body Oil— relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin.

Osmia Night Body Oil— relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin.

I absolutely love sleep.

I've said many times that good sleep is even more valuable than the most expensive night cream you can buy. It's so important for skin, energy, weight, moods—you name it—that I devoted a whole chapter to beauty sleep in my book Eat Pretty. Did you know that when you sleep your body secretes anti-aging hormones that boost skin cell production, increase collagen synthesis, and speed up damage repair? And that lack of sleep contributes to collagen breakdown, immune suppression, as well as slowed metabolism and cravings for sugar and simple carbs? Good sleep is a beauty MUST HAVE.

One key to getting the kind of sleep that's most restorative to your skin and balancing to your hormones is regularity. Your body, and nature, loves a regular cycle. Maintaining a similar schedule of sleep and wake times goes a long way toward optimizing your restorative pillow time. And the time you turn out the light and go to sleep is also key. I strongly believe that there is an ideal bedtime window (which varies in individuals but is between 9 and 11pm in general) for falling asleep to prevent a nighttime surge in cortisol, the stress hormone that has many negative effects on your beauty and sleep if it remains high. Find your ideal lights-out time (mine is 10:30) and try not to stay up past it.

And there's really so much more you can do to get fabulous beauty sleep. Ahead, I share some of the most effective strategies for optimizing your precious hours of beauty rest...

My top 5 beauty sleep rituals—practice them to look & feel better in the morning!

1. Shut off your devices at a reasonable time. When I'm on my computer or phone late, my sleep is noticeably worse. Blue light from screens is partially to blame, but your brain being keyed-up with work or social media plays a part too. I try to set a nightly shut-off time for my devices (say, 9pm) and stick to that as often as I can to protect my sleep health.

2. Sip something warm and calming. I keep a stash of herbal teas and reach for them when I want snacks, sweets, or chocolate late at night—which I know will disturb my sleep. Many herbal teas actually help relax you. Nighttime favorites include a digestive blend (see p 309 in Eat Pretty Every Day for ingredients), tulsi, or a Natural Calm magnesium drink, which further relaxes the body and prepares it for restful sleep.

3. Take a bath. You already know that baths feel amazing, but do you know why they're especially sleep-inducing? Baths raise your body temperature and then lower it when you exit the bath, signaling to your body that it's time for sleep. Add some salts and essential oils like lavender and sandalwood for even greater chill factor. I'd take one every night if I could, but I settle for days when I've been especially busy or stressed, and it helps me wind down.

4. Set aside nightly self-care time. Yes, washing your face counts as self-care. But I challenge you to do more. If you bathe or shower at night, definitely opt for a dry brushing ritual, followed by a head-to-toe natural or organic body oil or lotion. Your skin and body will be so relaxed, and you'll get the best sleep. Right now I am using the incredibly lovely Osmia Night body oil from the latest Beauty Heroes Discovery Box, and it's the best pre-sleep oil I've ever used. It combines more than a half-dozen organic oils (think evening primrose, hemp, kukui nut, avocado...) with organic French lavender and Roman chamomile, two classic calming botanicals that are ideal for nighttime. Overall, this particular oil is relaxing to the nervous system and so restorative to your skin. After this ritual, you'll feel so luxurious you'll want to sleep in silk sheets!

5. Clear your mind. Taking 3 minutes to write a quick to-do list for the next day helps me feel less stressed and more organized before getting into bed. Nothing keeps me up more than a racing mind. I also love journaling my thoughts, or even taking time to express gratitude, in my head or in writing, for the gifts of the day.

What's your must-do ritual for beautifying sleep? You can read more in-depth about the foods and habits that support great sleep in Eat Pretty!

Eat Pretty: My Second Baby Arrives Today!

Dear readers,

As I write this post, I'm propped against the island in my kitchen, with a 1-month old baby strapped to my chest. My multitasking skills have been put to the test over the past few weeks as I worked, with every free moment, to get the word out about the launch of another baby that I've been working on for over 2 years: Eat Pretty.

Back in the fall of 2011, when I first decided to pitch the idea for a book about the fundamentals of beauty nutrition (brimming with fresh, colorful, delicious recipes that would make any reader want to pack her diet with beautifying foods), I had no idea that it would enter the world at very the same time as my little boy, Jack. I've been through a range of emotions this month, from elation to exhaustion, from extreme stress to overwhelming peace. My little boy was born. And now, the book is here.

I want this book to empower and inspire, to transform the way you view simple daily activities like snacking, sleeping, exercising and caring for your skin, and to give you tools and information that hasn't been made available to you before. The Eat Pretty approach to beauty helped me out of a deep beauty rut, at a time when breakouts, eczema, allergies, digestive issues and weight gain were a daily frustration. I want you to have access to this information too, so you never have to feel stuck, or less than your best.

Even if I haven't been able to make this, the launch day for Eat Pretty, into a blockbuster celebration, there has already been so much amazing feedback and love for this book, and it's allowed me to share it in ways I never expected. I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to so many in the beauty and health community, and to so many members of the media who have picked up Eat Pretty, loved the info inside, and chose to share it with others. Your endorsement of the book means more than I can ever express!

I hope you, my readers, will pick up a copy as well, since this book was written for YOU! It's filled with over 200 pages of information that is absolutely essential in understanding your body and beauty— the info inside gives you the tools to look and feel your best by creating a lifestyle that supports you as an individual. Inside, you'll find a book broken down by seasons, with grocery shopping lists,  beauty intentions, and pampering rituals that help you embrace all that nature has to offer you during each season of the year. The book wouldn't be complete without an explanation of the nutritional info that will transform your skin, hair, nails, mood and weight, and chapters that help you connect your digestion, hormone balance, sleep patterns, emotional wellbeing and pH balance to your appearance. It's the information I sought years ago, and couldn't find.

Now it's in one place, in one pretty package.

Thank you for your support of Eat Pretty!

In beauty and health,

Jolene

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Sleep-deprived, makeup free, hair in a messy mommy ponytail— and happy as ever holding my two babies!

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