Winter Wellness with Chinese Medicine
Winter is here – time to rest, reflect, and restore. All aspects of life are based on the ever-changing balance of Yin and Yang. Winter is the peak of yin energy – dark, cold, damp, slow, introspective – represented by the black side of the yin and yang symbol. It’s important to conserve our energy through the winter season, just like plants store their energy underground in preparation for renewal in the spring.
5 hot tips for the cold winter months
- Get some extra rest
Winter is ruled by the water element and Kidney Qi. The Kidneys store energy so it can be used throughout your lifetime in times of change, stress, healing, and to prevent illness. Rest is important to restore this qi. Your body simply needs more rest in the winter. Go to bed earlier and create a bedtime routine to promote restful sleep. Stay asleep until after the sun rises, when possible.
- Spend time in reflection
Winter is a great time to prioritize stillness, quiet, and calm. Gentle exercises like qi gong, tai chi, and yoga help relax the mind and support Kidney energy. Journaling and meditation are great ways to look inward and reflect during the winter months. Going inward doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. Staying connected to your social support system is part of self-care too. With less sunlight and more time indoors, watch out for sadness or loneliness. Catch up with close friends and loved ones through small gatherings, phone conversations, or video chats.
- Stay Hydrated
It’s easy to feel less thirsty in the winter months when we aren’t as active. Drinking plenty of water is vital to supporting Kidney qi through the winter months. Room temperature or hotter is best. Drinking cold water in the cold months makes your body work harder to keep the right core temperature, which uses more of your precious energy. Sip your favorite herbal tea or hot water with lemon throughout the day.
- Eat Nourishing Foods
Choose seasonally appropriate foods that nourish the Kidneys. Limit or avoid cold foods and raw vegetables. Hearty dishes like soups, stews, casseroles, and congee (rice porridge) keep the digestive system warm. Check out these kidney nourishing foods:
- beef, chicken, turkey, goose, duck, lamb
- dark leafy greens like kale, chard, spinach, collards, mustard greens
- whole grains like brown rice, barley, and millet
- winter squashes like butternut, pumpkin, acorn – try our butternut squash chili recipe
- root vegetables like beets, carrots, sweet potato, parsnip – try our roasted root recipe
- black, kidney, mung, and adzuki beans
- warming herbs and spices like ginger, onion, garlic, scallion, leeks, cinnamon, cloves
- naturally salty foods like natural sea salt, miso, seaweed
5. Keep up with your acupuncture care
Chinese Medicine has so many great ways to keep you healthy throughout the seasonal changes. Besides overall immune boosting benefits, there are specific acupuncture points, adjunct techniques, and herbs to strengthen the Wei Qi (protective qi) and ward off illness. When you align your body with the natural flow of the seasons, you can keep your system performing optimally. For more information about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you this winter, schedule to see one of our Interns.