08 Jul Keeping Well in Winter
Hello! It’s Amy, tonika health’s resident acupuncturist. Who else has been feeling a little chilly in this winter weather? As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, I can’t help but think about how the external environment affects us. And I love how we can use the dynamics of each season to better our health. By tuning in to what your body needs this winter, you can help nourish your body, mind and soul.
So, winter wellness…it can be a challenge. Colds and flus are everywhere. Most people have bouts of feeling low on energy, run down, flat and even a little depressed. It’s very easy to fall in the pit of only feeling enthusiasm for the couch, a book or a TV series, while eating lots of toast and chocolate. That’s okay…but it could be better. In fact, there are ways to experience winter so that you don’t feel like life is stagnant, but instead is simply changing directions by moving inwards and slowing down.
I think winter is best experienced as slow season of moving inward, tranquillity and strength. However, in the West, we can often feel uncomfortable with this more introverted season and react to such discomfort by pushing through, running our energy and immunity into the ground, or withdrawing. Leaving us feeling flat, if not depressed.
Winter is the season that offers an opportunity to prepare for the rest of the year, however, this opportunity is often missed. Here are few tips to help you be balanced with the winter season and get the best out of it by staying relaxed, nourished and happy.
1. Let there be sleep!
Getting in a few extra zzz’s in winter is what nature intended with longer darker nights, so enjoy the seasonal journey of rest. Don’t feel guilty for going to bed early, in fact, go as early as you like! I would warn you about sleeping in too much, however, as this can make you feel sluggish. Try to get up before 7.30am, otherwise the sluggishness might get you.
2. Soups are the source
Soup is the dish of the season, so enjoy! In winter, the energy in our bodies and in the external environment are both at their lowest for the year, so getting more energy from food is required. Naturally we get into stodgy, meaty and carby foods. However, some of these can be a little hard for the body to digest. Soup is an easily digestible and accessible energy source.
I find it hard to write a blog without putting tea in as a cure for all…because it is! Tea in winter can warming, hydrating and keep you feeling well without getting stuck into richer beverages like milky coffee or hot chocolate. Herbal tea with ginger and cinnamon can help warm you up. Other herbal tea, such as dandelion, can be a great way to subtly cleanse the body at a time when there’s a tendency for build-up and blockages in the body’s energies.
4. Tonifying exercise
As I said above, winter can be a time when there’s a tendency for build-up, so a bit of movement can help avoid things from becoming too stuck. Sometimes this means not being too ambitious as you don’t have as much energy to burn in winter. However, it’s better do something over nothing as it’ll help get blood and energy moving around your body. Take a more gentle approach to exercise. Pick options like yoga (especially in a warm room), walking, swimming in a heated pool, or short runs a few times a week.
The 10 minute trick is the best if you feel like you can’t be bothered. Tell yourself “I’m just going to go for a walk/jog/swim/etc for 10 minutes”. 9/10 times you’ll enjoy it so much once you start that you’ll do more. However, start with shorter and smaller expectations, and do less than you would normally do. It’s winter and that’s natural.
5. Yoga and meditation
Winter is the time when, if you practice yoga or meditate, you might not feel like you’re achieving much, but you are deeply and profoundly shifting very deep energy. It’s a time when you’re naturally the most yin, introverted and still. You can harness this inwards focus to really build a steady base before spring comes along with it’s busy energy and ‘spring fever’. Yoga and meditation in winter will give you a rock solid foundation for the rest of the year. Book in with a local class, use an app on your phone, or try some internet yoga to keep you motivated. You’ll be amazed at how easy a home retreat can be and how relaxed it’ll make you feel!
6. Family and good friends
Winter doesn’t usually feel like a super social time. It is, however, a great time to spend with friends and family close to you. While spring and summer are usually times of social exuberance, winter is time to nourish connections with your deepest and dearest friends and family. Snuggle up to your loved ones and stay connected, but don’t push social agendas too hard. The right amount of solitude can be deeply satisfying and nourishing.
7. Be your best
It’s time to look inside, reflect, reassess, sit with where you are and ponder what’s next. It might not be a time when you feel like taking much action, and that’s completely fine. It’s time to put energy into thinking, pondering and wondering. Simply, winter is time to go inside and have a deep think about what’s next before the more dynamic seasons come along.
ENJOY winter and book in for acupuncture here if your immunity, energy or anything else needs a boost!