In Winter, Nature appears to stay still while it replenishes itself below the surface. From a Chinese medicine perspective, Winter is linked with
Element: Water – a strong generative force from deep within.
Organs: Kidneys and Bladder. The Kidneys harbour our essence and vitality, the source of all energy in our body, on which we draw for healing and at times of stress and anxiety. Kidney health is directly linked with longevity, and Kidney problems manifest in ears, hair, bone issues, knee issues, lower back ache and reproductive health problems.
Emotion: fear – like the Kidneys, it can be deeply rooted, outside our conscious awareness. However, a little fear is healthy and protects us from getting into trouble.
A few tips for a healthy Winter, inspired from Chinese medicine:
- Meditate. Winter is time for introspection and exploration of deeper issues – planting the seed for new growth in Spring.
- Get plenty of sleep. The ancient Chinese believed that we should live in harmony with the natural cycles around us. The cold and darkness of winter urge us to slow down, take time to regenerate and store our physical energy.
- Keep your Qi moving by staying active. However, if possible, avoid spending too much time outdoors on colds, stormy days – protect yourself from the elements.
- Wrap up warm and especially keep your feet warm (linked with the Kidneys). Warm boots and warm trousers are essential.
- Pay attention to the amount and type of food you eat. Start the day with a warm breakfast, perhaps even a wonderfully nourishing congee. Have warm hearty soups, whole grains and roasted nuts. Sweet potatoes, steamed winter greens, small dark beans (for example adzuki beans) and seaweeds strengthen the Kidneys. Be gentle on your digestion and cook food for longer, at lower temperatures, with less water.
- Stay hydrated, and add hot fluids. This can make a difference especially if you feel you are coming down with something. Drink hot soup. Chicken soup has a lifting energy in Chinese medicine, which is one reason it’s good when you feel run down.
- Open the curtains wide and go for walks (in the sunshine if possible) to brighten up your day and avoid the winter blues!