Winter getting you down? Look to Chinese Medicine for the Power of Slowing Down and Charging Up!
One of the big challenges of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere (besides all of this lovely Vancouver rain) is the long hours of darkness. Add in the dampness and cold it’s no wonder that winter can sometimes have a negative impact on our emotional wellbeing. If you’re suffering with the ‘winter blues’, learn about the Chinese Medicine approach: it is possible to get to the root of these feelings and support yourself in feeling your best this winter!
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complex and powerful system to understand and address health in a truly holistic and personalized approach. We not only consider the symptoms in question, but include the underlying root and your personal constitution to understand and diagnose the full picture.
If you’ve been sick – take care to complete the process of healing
So you suffered through this year’s wicked flu, or came down with a cold that lasted forever. But after a few days you were back into your normal schedule, because who has time to be sick, right? Be careful not to minimize the importance of completely expelling the sickness from your body. It’s how we feel whole again.
Could you still be fighting an illness that is lingering?
A common cold can become a bigger problem if we don’t take care to get rid of it. The illness can transfer from our external layers into our deeper, vulnerable organ systems if we allow it to linger, especially if there is a predisposing deficiency. This lingering illness can block up organ systems and disturb our Shen (or spirit), leading to all sorts of unbalanced (and unmanageable) feelings.
If you are feeling out of sorts, but can’t really put a finger on why, this may be part of what is going on.
Stay Warm and Dry (Your mom was right!)
Dressing for the weather is essential to good health in the winter. Being active outdoors is also important, but do take care to dress appropriately. Cold and dampness can be dangerous elements, causing many types of pain and weakness, exacerbating arthritis, and impeding circulation … all of which can lead to a gloomy mood.
When we’re young and strong the effects of cold and damp may not be as apparent. But as we get older, and especially if our health is already compromised, the cold and damp can exacerbate and worsen our issues. Some signs that you have cold trapped in the body include: many types of pain, digestive problems, menstrual pain, headaches, and depression … just to name a few. However, the most common symptom of too much cold is pain. Pain can be intensely frustrating and limit our lifestyle - all of which takes a toll on our feeling of wellbeing.
Balance is Key: Get Enough Sleep, Rest and Activity
The sleep, rest, activity balance is a key aspect of life, but it’s tricky to get it right. Our requirements are not only unique to each individual, but they also change, depending on our current state of health. And it also changes from season to season, which definitely keeps us on our toes!
Feel like hibernating? During the winter months, we actually should sleep a little longer and rest a little more. However, it is also important to still get active, outdoors and social, to our own individual needs. Consider these aspects of your life and if there is room for improvement, you know what to do. You’ve GOT this.
Food is My Medicine
What’s going on in our gut has a strong effect on our mood. So take care to eat seasonally, locally, relevant foods. If you eat well, your mood will reflect It! Even though there is a ton of confusing literature about diet, it really isn’t all that complicated:
Eat real food.
Eat food that feels good in your body.
Eat a variety of foods.
In Chinese Medicine we recommend eating and drinking warm, cooked foods and drinks in the winter months. This warms your body and spirit from the inside out. Soups, stews and bone broths are especially good for you during the cold months. Play around with your favorite ingredients; things that make you feel good when you eat or drink them. Talk to your Chinese Medicine practitioner, Holistic Nutritionist or Naturopath to brainstorm some specific food approaches to help your constitution. There is no one miracle diet that works for everyone, because we are all unique beings with unique constitutions. Get to know your internal environment to understand how to help yourself on a daily basis.
A Final Question to Ask Yourself
Are your feelings relevant to what is happening in your life?
Sometimes life can feel incredibly hard. If you’re walking through some difficulties, be kind and gentle to yourself. But, also be honest with yourself. If your feelings do not match up to life events, it may be time to dig a little deeper. Sometimes when we get stuck in a particular mindset for too long, it can become pathological. Chinese Medicine is a viable and effective option to help you get back in balance and feel better.
In Chinese Medicine, no two treatments are exactly the same. Ten different people suffering with ‘winter blues’ can all have ten completely different Chinese Medicine Diagnosis and treatment plans. An Acupuncturist who is fully trained to understand this system can be an important asset to your health care team. If you are feeling that your moods are out of sync with your life events, I encourage you to book a session sooner than later.
And remember: Spring is just around the corner! … When it will be time to cleanse and move a little more, to plan and to organize. So, enjoy your powerful, quiet, recharge time this winter.