Winter is a time for hibernation, reflection and recuperation. This is the time to pamper yourself to prepare for the new year and all those goals you wish to achieve. Take a page out of nature's book and use this season to rest, restore your energy reserves and heal yourself so you have the drive, passion and strength to accomplish those resolutions you made for the New Year!  Spring is a better time to work on those goals!


Winter is Yin in nature, it is inactive, cold and damp. You may find yourself wanting to sleep longer, doing less, even staying home more, this is perfectly natural for this season. Naturally, winter is cold and we are disinclined to want to do too much activity.
 
Go with your feelings, just let yourself be! Trying to push against it will be to force yourself to go against nature, and you may become unwell.
 
It
great time to catch up on those books you wanted to read or movies you wanted to see. Take short walks to keep your body active, but try to avoid doing excessive activity.  This is the season of inactivity, so enjoy it because with spring there will be a burst of  energy and moving into summer the desire will be to do lots and sleep little. So now is the time to recharge your batteries for the warmer months.


Winter is ruled by the water element, which is associated with the kidneys and bladder. According to Chinese medicine, the kidneys are considered the source of all energy (Qi) within the body. They store all of the reserve Qi in the body so that it can be used in times of stress and change, or to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully.

During the winter months it is important to nurture and nourish our Kidney Qi. It is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted.


Foods for Winter

Winter as a time of inactivity might mean we put on weight more if this true for you, it’s wise to reduce the amount of food you eat, too, to avoid gaining weight unnecessarily.
Avoid raw foods during the winter as much as possible, as these tend to cool the body.
Or add spices such as ginger to juices and cinnamon to foods.

Gently warm soups and eat plenty of well-blended food, as blended meals are easier to digest. Fresh cranberries make a nice addition to juices or purees this time of year while protecting the bladder and kidneys from infection.

Warming foods to try during winter:
  • Soups and stews
  • Root vegetables
  • Beans
  • Miso and seaweed
  • Garlic and ginger

Warm miso soup makes a wonderful meal: heat the water and let it cool back down to ninety or one hundred degrees so it is warm to the touch. Add scallions, sliced mushrooms, wakame (a sea vegetable), grated ginger and carrots and miso. Before adding the miso, make it into a paste with warm water and then add to the soup.

Azuki beans and black beans are beneficial for the kidneys. Millet and winter squash are also good choices for balancing water energy this time of year.




Staying Healthy This Winter

Seasonal changes affect the body’s environment. With the wind, rain, and snow comes the colds, flu, aches, and pains.

Here are a few tips to staying healthy this winter:

- Wash your hands regularly. Studies have shown that one of the main reasons that we catch colds and flu in the winter season is that we are indoors and in closer proximity to others in cold weather. Protect yourself by washing your hands regularly and try not to touch your face, nose or mouth.
            
Tip:
Take your hand sanitizers with you
on the Tube it is a quick and easy way to protect yourself.

- Get plenty of sleep. Chinese Medicine advises people to go to sleep early and rise late, after the sun’s rays have warmed the atmosphere a bit. This preserves your own Qi for the task of warming in the face of winter's cold bite. 
           
Tip: This is not always practical in our society but try getting to bed a half hour earlier each night you'll see and feel the effects immediately. Or if you can work from home you'll probably get an extra hour sleep if you don't have to commute.    



- Reduce stress.
Find a way to relax and release stress on a daily basis. Try activities such as yoga, meditation, biofeedback, simple relaxation therapy, or whatever method you can to release the stress and pressures of modern life.Chinese Medicine believes stress, frustration, and unresolved anger can tax your immune system unnecessarily enabling you to get sick easily.                    

Tip
- There are lots of free or tasters classes available for you try before making a financial commitment. Try signing up with a buddy, studies show we are more inclined to stick to activities if we share them. So make your activity your 'date night' or an reason to spend more time with someone important in your life.  
           
If you prefer to stay indoors try some of Wii exercise programmes.


Build Up Your Protective Qi
. Acupuncture can prevent colds and flu by building up the immune system with just a  few needles inserted into key points along the body’s energy pathways. It is also good to try Acupuncture when you initially start to feel a cold coming on, it can help to relieve or eliminate a lot of the symptoms associated with being sick.


Keep warn and dry.
To strengthen the water energy and keep the body in balance it's important to keep warm. Wear scarves around your neck and extra layers around your mid-section. Try not to go out with wet or damp hair, ensure it is completely dry before you step out the house.


Essential Oils for Winter

If you like the scent of essential oils  Winter is a perfect time to enjoy diffusing and blending with warming essential oils like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon.

Spicy essential oils like Cinnamon, Clove Bud and Ginger are strong and quite warming.  A little goes a long way with these oils. They shouldn't be heavily diffused into a room as they can irritate the mucous membranes. It's best to blend stronger spice oils into more gentle oils like Sweet Orange Essential Oil.


Other oils that are perfect for Winter are:

Peppermint, Sandalwood, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Allspice, Black Pepper, Thyme, Vanilla