In acupuncture school, I learned that people should live in harmony with their environment. During the winter season, people need to slow down to nourish the body deeply, and stay warm and rested in order to renew their vital energy. This will help anyone to be ready for new growth and regeneration that will start internally in the coming seasons.
In winter, plants rest into their roots, and animals hide, or hibernate. The world becomes cool and still. This shows that nature sees this time as one of resting and calming. But, deep inside, the nourishing activity for regeneration keeps moving to bring the renewal which begins in springtime.
The related organ in winter
The kidney organ system is related to the winter season. The kidney provides the essence that feeds and renews our life energy. The kidneys do support the reproductive organs to regulate growth and regeneration, and all this depends on enough storage of essence to give good support to the marrow, bone, spinal cord, hair, teeth and brain.
Energy could be drawn from this source during times of stress and anxiety, or when the body requires energy for healing. The kidneys are sensitive to damage by cold. Cold weather, or drinking cold water, can affect the kidneys. Salty food or spicy food could be harmful, as can lack of sleep and excessive physical work. Excess sexual activity can deplete the kidney organ and channel as well.
Winter emotions from the Chinese medicine view
According to Chinese medicine, the dampness and cold nature of winter affects the emotion of fear, and depression, which is a common emotional state during this season. In western medicine, many people are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) in winter. It’s a special form of depression/anxiety that occurs during this darker time because of the lack of brightness and sunshine. Women complain more of this than men, and this can result in irritability, poor energy, and weight gain due to overeating and fatigue
Nine tips to support your body during winter
– Stay warm
– Eat healthfully. Some foods that can support your health in winter: Black beans, garlic, ginger, walnuts, and fish.
– Good hydration. Drink your water at room temperature so your body does not have to work so hard to warm up ice cold water.
– Energy producing exercise like yoga, tai chi, and qigong. These exercises help to keep the body warm and nourished.
– Acupuncture. Getting regular acupuncture treatments can produce more energy and generate more heat to warm the body.
– Go to bed early and try to get enough hours of sleep. Seven to eight hours is best for most.
– Eat warming foods. Especially soups and stews, root vegetables, whole grains, roasted nuts, dark beans, and lots of dark leafy greens. This food needs to be cooked at low temperature with a longer cooking time.
– Let the light in. Open your curtains during winter to bring more light indoors. This helps provides support against depression and moodiness. It also encourages movement and blood circulation.
– Meditation. A great way to calm the mind and the heart during this season.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you connect with nature and help your body to harmonize and circulate according to the season’s speed. The winter season allows for deeper nourishment, so our seeds can develop internally before they blossom into the spring. Stay warm, hydrated and nourished. Give yourself extra time to rest and meditate so you can be ready to spring out and blossom!