The dark days of winter can be hard on both your body and your mind. The practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine recommends that you should live according to the seasons for optimal health and well being. In Utah, that can be especially challenging since the days are short and cold, and the winter seems to stretch on. Winter doesn’t have to be time to endure. Acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine can help you balance your energy and find wellness. With these practices, you can learn to embrace winter and see it as a time of rest and recharging.
To best live in the winter season, you should focus on nourishing your body, restoring your mind and spirit and protecting yourself against the cold. Here are our three TCM tips for maintaining health and living in harmony with the season.
1. Get the Right Nutrition
Focusing on the right nutrition for winter, can help you stay healthy in the coldest months of the year. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, winter is the time to eating warming, seasonal foods, such as stews made with rich broths, whole grains and root vegetables. It is also good to increase your intake of protein rich foods like beans and lentils. When cooking meals, focus on slow cooking methods like roasting and baking to preserve the warming qualities of these foods.
In addition to choosing nurturing foods, you must drink enough water. Though we don’t sweat much in winter, the cold, winter air is incredibly drying. The dry air sucks the moisture out of your body leaving your skin, lips, hair and organs dehydrated. To stay hydrated, listen to your body and drink between meals. Focus on room temperature water and/or herbal teas, such as ginger root, which is a warming herb. By eating in harmony with the seasons and following Traditional Chinese Medicine, you can boost your immune system and prepare your body for the winter.
2. Alter Your Winter Activities
The slow days of winter are the perfect time to slow down and look inward. Take advantage of the time indoors to focus on meditation, prayer, journaling and reading. These practice are good restorative activities. Or, gently combine the physical and spiritual with Yin yoga, which will help you maintain balance and recharge your Yin. You can also visit a certified acupuncturist, for an acupuncture to make sure your qi is in balance.
Finally, make sure to get enough sleep. Traditional Chinese Medicine advises setting and rising with the sun. While this isn’t always practical or possible in our modern world, just an hour extra a night can be incredibly helpful in getting your body the extra rest in needs in the winter and becoming more in sync with our natural world.
3. Stay Warm
The need to stay warm might seem like a no brainer in the winter, but many of us do not properly bundle up. In the winter, it is essential to protect our heads and neck from the cool wind. We cannot balance our bodies if we are constantly losing heat. It also takes more energy to maintain body warmth when you are not properly bundled, and this precious energy could be used to boost your immune system and protect you from illness. When you waste energy, you leave yourself vulnerable to illness or infection.