Your winter wellness plan
Be inspired by ancient Chinese Wisdom and warm up your wellbeing this winter.
Ancient Chinese medicine has a wealth of knowledge and tips on how to rest and reassess your health when the winter season arrives. The system is holistic, linking health to nature and elements - from colours and crystals to organs and emotions. Winter is associated with water, the liver and fear. Balancing your mind and body to the elements associated with winter can feel like giving your self a warm hug and fight off the winter blues.
The aim of working with traditional Chinese medicine during the winter season is to maintain warmth in the body and keep the damp out. Here's how to follow the traditional teachings of Chinese medicine this winter …
Nurture your energy
Balance and energy, known as qi (pronounced Chi) which is translated as 'the life force' flowing through our bodies, are the principal ideas behind finding wellness.
Up until the winter solstice, we are in the 'Yin' part of the yearly cycle, and this is when you should be in a quiet, contemplative state; nurturing yourself with a slow pace, early nights and nourishing warm foods.
In reality, this is party season, with endless Gin and Tonic, late nights and shopping stress. This conflicting time can leave you out of balance, so you end up succumbing to the numerous viruses that are hanging around.
So what's the solution?
Activities to suit the season
Activities should represent the season with a turn inwards, with more self-reflection, quiet time writing, meditating and other soul-nourishing activities. Winter is a time to slow down and feed ourselves both physically and spiritually. Internal martial arts and meditation practices are particularly helpful at this time of year, as is going to bed earlier and sleeping later to receive the full healing effects sleep can offer.
We all have fears; fears freeze us so that we feel stuck and hopeless, but observing our fears without judging them can liberate us. We need to learn the gentle art of "witnessing" to ourselves without judging ourselves (like in mindfulness meditation). Rather than attempting to overcome our fears, we can learn to recognise and accept them. Self-awareness and self-acceptance warm and thaws our fear so that we become "unstuck" and can move on healthily.
When it's cold and wet outside, it's easy to think exercise might be as strenuous as just lifting a warm cuppa. The adrenal glands can replenish without intense workouts, but the key to activating your qi is exercise.
Avoid sweating excessively during winter as the contrast between having the heat up high and then going out into the freezing cold leads to imbalance. Conserve your energy and take a more gentle approach to exercise – gentle fresh air walks and yoga encourage the flow of qi (energy) and help to warm up the core.
Nourish Yourself Well
Nourish yourself with warm food and drink lots of water; winter sucks the moisture out of your body, so hydrate by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of fresh water daily. Eat warming foods such as root vegetables, whole grains, and small amounts of meat or fish protein. If you are a vegetarian, eat more beans, nuts, and tempeh.
As winter is linked with the element of water, and Chinese experts believe that soaking the feet is a great detoxifier, then a foot bath is a beautiful ritual for this time of year. The slightly raised body temperature unblocks the energy channels. If you add herbs or essential oils to your foot bath, the skin absorbs these elements, allowing them to travel through the energy channels to target points. Try adding a magnesium compound such as bath salts to supercharge your water. Magnesium helps the brain produce neurotransmitters that induce sleep and reduce stress.
Embrace your winter home
Attuning with nature is coupled with Feng Shui at home to re-set your space and your mindset. Start by adding warm colours to your home in little ways.
The twinkling holiday lights are actually Feng Shui to keep energy in balance, as are using candles or lighting a fire in the fireplace. Clearing any clutter from your home, especially at the rear of your home, is also very beneficial.
Master the practice of preserving good health