NATURAL WAYS TO PREP FOR WINTER
With Traditional Chinese Medicine
In the words of the imitable Jon Snow, Game of Thrones’ ultimate anti-hero, “Winter is Coming.” While we may not be facing the threat of an army of White Walkers, all of us know that the months of summer (especially in 2020!) were far too short. In the blink of an eye, the sun began to set sooner, the leaves changed clothes, and we all started praying that our pre-pandemic winter clothes still fit following lockdown.
While the winter may not be your favorite season, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to create new habits and routines that help you prepare your body, mind, and soul for the winter months. Borrowing from the magical world of traditional eastern medicine, here are some of our favorite methods for preparing for a cozy winter.
Enjoying Winter With The Wisdom of Our Ancestors
We hear you. “What could ancient medicine practice have to teach us in our modern world?” The reality is, those who have mastered the art of Eastern medicine have a lot that we can learn from – because they’ve been at it successfully for a long time.
Chinese medicine teaches that each human should live their lives in harmony with the natural rhythms of the earth. As we keep our bodies and minds in tune with the changes of the seasons, we tap into a natural state of being that allows us to stay in harmony with ourselves, others, and our world.
In a time when the seasons dominated all aspects of life, humans adapted their routines and behaviors to thrive no matter what Mother Nature threw their way. In our climate-controlled world of comfort, we have lost a bit of this resilience and strength as we depend on apps, delivery services, and the internet to give us life! Rather than step outside in and take a deep breath of brisk winter air, we choose to hide under the covers and binge Netflix. Our ancestors would be shocked at how soft we have become!
If you are ready to prepare for the winter the way that millions of those who lived before *gasp* the magic of the internet, here are some of our top ways to start preparing for the winter by adapting some of the practices that makes TCM so popular today
Love On Your Kidneys
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a guiding principle is to keep a close eye on what you consume. Whether food or drink, what you put into your body has a profound impact on your body’s ability to maintain a healthy equilibrium. This is vitally important during the colder months, especially for our kidneys.
Our body’s natural powerhouse for providing energy, power, and wellness comes from our tiniest and most humble organ – our kidneys. As we begin to turn inward during the colder months, our kidneys kick into overdrive to help us increase the feel-good hormones and Qi that we need to feel balanced and revitalized.
Consider adding foods to your diet that boost your Kidney health, especially those that naturally grow during the winter months. Hearty squashes, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and other nutrient-rich foods can help show your kidneys some love. In return, they will keep you chugging along during the dark winter days. Chinese medicine advises eating proanthocyanin-rich black foods to strengthen the Kidneys- black beans, black rice and the like. Adding adaptogenic additives such as herbs and mushrooms can also give your entire body and mind a boost in a natural way.
Invest In Some YOU Time
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, winer is the magical season of yin – a time of reflection, inner-quiet, meditation, and reading. Rather than spending our days outdoors working hard under the sun and building things, we retreat to the warmth to spend time building ourselves.
What areas of your life are needing some extra attention? The winter months are perfect for setting aside time for habits and activities that allow you to build inner wisdom, knowledge, and resiliency that will be a huge benefit when spring begins to arrive. Qigong masters advise that you prepare for winter by doing exercises that tap over the Kidneys.
Begin these habits early. When the deep, dark months of winter arrive, it can be tempting to allow yourself to sink into a seasonal depression and lose motivation to grow and learn. Instead, utilize your new habits to push through the short days and come out on the other side with a competitive edge!
Even close to the north pole, where night may be 23 hours long, going out of doors for two hours has been found to cut seasonal depression. So throw on those sweaters and coats, and explore a bit.
Let The Sun Guide Your Sleep
The best way to ensure that you enjoy the winter months with a positive attitude is to allow the rhythm of the day guide your body’s internal clock. Being created as beings who are led by the rising and setting of the sun, making sure that we intentionally go to bed early and rise later – led by the change in the sun’s rising and setting – will help you get the vital sleep that your body and mind needs to grow strong.Not only does good sleep boost your brain’s ability to function, but you can increase your immune system to fight off those nasty winter germs when they come to pay their yearly visit! So start a new habit this winter by getting plenty of sleep – and if anyone asks you why you’ve taken up hibernating, tell them that it’s what the TCM doctor ordered!
With a bit of perspective change, you no longer have to fear winter as a dark and dismal season. With the opportunity to grow and prepare yourself for the next year, winter can become an incredibly valuable time for introspection for your body, mind, and soul. Take the time now to start implementing some of these TCM-inspired habits, and watch as the winter becomes your new favorite season!