How to practice Self-Care in the Winter

The seasons provide a great guide to live in harmony with nature. During winter, nature is in a true expression of yin. It is resting, quiet, and withdrawn. It has pulled its energy deep into the roots of the Earth and is preparing for spring. There isn’t much activity from birds or squirrels and if you listen, you will find a deep silence.

Just as nature has gone within, humans have a calling to do the same. This may be feel like depression while it may be the body and mind pointing to something else. Consider going with the flow of nature and tapping into its depth & stillness. Sitting in meditation is one of the best ways to tap into your inner wisdom and connect to the oneness of the universe.

Winter is the time to nourish & replenish yourself to prepare for the burst of spring energy. It is the time to eat whole grains like millet, quinoa & barley and time to cook stews & soups. Don’t forget to throw in some dried mushrooms (help build immune system with boosting action), seaweeds like nori, kelppulse (build blood, reduce negative effect of electromagnetic rays from cell phone & computer) or a bone (packed with nutrients). Adzuki, kidney & black beans are especially good for the Kidneys.

Sip on healthful teas like ginger (deeply warming & jumps start digestion) & rose hips (high in Vitamin C). Drinking plenty of room temperature or warmed water is especially good during the cold season. Again, because things are so still, cook your food slow. Cooking with a crock pot allows you the ease of low and simple cooking without worrying about time.

In Chinese medicine, the kidneys and bladder are associated with the winter season and govern water metabolism. The kidneys are “seen as the root and foundation of the body; they store jing (essence) and rule the sexual organs and their reproductive functions.”   They control the fire (yang energy) that warms the body, support healthy sexual functions and fertility. We are gifted a certain amount of this deep reserve of vital energy at birth.  The lifestyle we choose dictates how we use up or conserve our battery back.

twu2  A lifestyle of continuous stress, over work, excessive sex, staying up late, drug use, and eating poorly are a few ways that we can deplete ourselves. Many people override their battery by pushing past being tired, drinking stimulants like coffee and getting a so-called 2nd wind. Some helpful alternatives to help preserve vital energy are:

  • Have some water, take a break or even better, take a nap.
  • Practice Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong or gentle yoga. They are the most effective ways to conserve and cultivate this deep source of energy that will feed us during our lifetime. A short 15 minute session a day can go a long way.
  • Stay home more often for relaxation. Trade a night out for a comfortable night in. Read a good book, massage yourself and loved ones. Spend quality time with close friends and family. Read stories or play some board games with family, have an indoor movie night with friends.
  • Look within for answers. Contemplate, write in your journal, sit in meditation. Go to bed earlier and get as much rest as possible.
  • Keep warm by covering your head, lower back and neck.  Cold wind can easily enter the body causing pain, stiffness and, as we all know, an actual “cold”. If you have bodily pain that worsens in winter, staying warm inside and out may be all you need to be pain free.
  • And enjoy it all.
(Photo cred: Free People)

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