The Heart Of Winter.
If you are like me, you are just about ready for winter to be over. The cold nights are cozy and the rains are making everything look gorgeous and green but when will it start to get warm again? Whenever I get to this point, I always have to remind myself that the way we care for ourselves in winter is an essential part of our ability to stay healthy in spring, just as the way we care for ourselves in spring, is essential for our wellbeing in summer… and so on.
The foundations of Chinese medicine lie in the art of nourishing life and to accomplish this it is important to be flexible and attentive to one’s environment and respond appropriately. As the days are shorter and temps are colder, winter becomes a season for regeneration and repair. Here are three simple ways to take good care of yourself until the first buds of spring show their cheery faces.
Bone broth is a very easy way to get deep nutrition into your body and what better time for a delicious bowl than when it’s chilly out. Chicken, beef or fish bone broth is chock full of nutrients including minerals, gelatin and glycosaminoglycans (which include substances like chondroitin and glucosamine, keratin and hyaluronic acid and more.) These nutrients are known to benefit teeth, bones, hair, nails and joints. It is also a digestive elixir and has the ability to heal the gut lining for those with digestive issues. Homemade broth is incredibly easy to make by simply adding bones to a stockpot or slow cooker, fill with water and add a little apple cider vinegar to help leech out the minerals. (Veggies are optional) The longer you cook it the more concentrated it will become. I use a slow cooker and keep it on low for up to 48 hours.
Gentle exercise like walking, tai chi, qi gong and some forms of yoga are very important in winter as it is easy to become stagnant during these shorter, colder days. Circulating the qi keeps our immune systems healthy, our brains productive and our moods positive. Exercise until you are warm but stop before you sweat too much. Sweat opens the pores and if exposed to the cold and/or wind can make you sick. Too much loss of fluids (sweat) in the winter can also be draining, especially to those who suffer from fatigue, don’t get enough sleep or catch colds easily.
Sleep is essential to healing and getting 8 hours of uninterrupted slumber is one of the best ways to stay alert, happy and healthy. Studies show that even 6 hrs. of sleep a night for two weeks show similar reaction times to someone with 0.01% blood alcohol concentration. When we sleep the brain has time to flush itself clean of toxins that have built up over the day. Take advantage of the long nights and go to bed before 10pm. See how refreshed you feel waking up 8 hours later. Unfortunately being a parent to young children doesn’t often allow for this, but if you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early, there may be a logical explanation. Check in with your local Chinese medical practitioner for acupuncture and/or herbs to start dealing with your accumulated sleep debt.
Paige Lynn Olsen
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine. L.Ac. Dipl. O.M. (US).
Paige applies her intuitive and empirical knowledge of the body, not only to improve her patient’s conditions but to help them regain a true sense of wellbeing.
Book at Kinetic Balance to see Paige for Acupuncture, Bodywork and Chinese Herbs. You can also try one of her classes: Tai Chi or Qi Gong.