The health system Chinese Five Elements describes Winter as a time when focus turns inwards and the body seeks to conserve energy, much as some animals hibernate. It’s a time to recharge our batteries, to reflect on the past year, to reconnect to our inner selves and to replenish our reserves in time for the more energetic energy of Spring. And indeed, what better time of year to do this when the dark nights draw in fast and the temperature dips to freezing?
Winter is governed by the element Water and so, unsurprisingly, the bodily systems of the kidneys and bladder need to be considered at this time of year. These organs relate to the emotion of fear (the adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys,) and together with the reproductive organs are considered to house what is referred to as Vital Essence – your mojo if you like!
While continuing with the current recommendations I have given you since your last appointment you may like to use some of these resources which I have identified as particularly pertinent to self-treatment during Water time.
As ever, if you are unsure of anything please email me and I will endeavour to get back to you within 24 hours.
The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys, and these produce adrenaline and cortisol – two of the primary stress hormones. Cortisol has a natural 24 hour cycle which can be disrupted by stress and anxiety. Here are Ten Ways You Can Support Your Cortisol Cycle.
Drinking optimum amounts of water is crucial at all times of year but during the winter months it is easy to neglect water intake. Some people find it easier to replace glasses of cold or room temperature water with warm water or weak herbal teas during this time. For many clients I recommend dissolving half a teaspoon of sea salt or Himalayan rock salt into a glass of water in the morning to drink. This will actually help to keep you hydrated, and reduces stress to both the kidneys and adrenals. This is an especially pertinent trick to use during the winter to maintain energy levels and reduce cravings for carbohydrates.
Epsom Salt Baths are both detoxifying and relaxing. Try adding 500g of salts to a warm evening bath to improve sleep. You can also try adding a handful of sea salt or Dead Sea salts, and a few drops of essential oils (try a couple of drops each of both lavender and rosemary) for even deeper therapeutic benefits.
Keep your kidneys warm during the winter. Some people use special torso wraps but you may find that wearing a soft, organic base layer (bamboo is a great material for base layers) under your usual clothes does the job for you. Also, take care not to let your feet get too cold – invest in some thick socks in a natural, breathable fibre to wear around the house (rather than slippers which constrict the foot’s natural movement.)
In keeping with our natural inclination to hibernate in Winter try these tips for encouraging a restorative night’s sleep.
This is the time to satiate yourself on foods that keep you warm, calm and nourished. Cravings for sweet and carby snacks may well indicate that you need to concentrate on more nutrient dense foods at your main meal times.
A well salted bone broth is deeply nourishing and can make a surprisingly lovely breakfast that will keep you cosy for those morning winter walks or to use as a base for making hearty stews. Also, try my ideas for preparing winter vegetables.
A Herbal Tea for Winter
Try this lovely recipe for Helen Carmichael’s Warming Tonic Tea, specifically designed for the Winter.
Surviving the Festive Season
Considering that Winter is a time of such deep, restorative and introvert energy, many people find the increased pressure to socialise, break routines, travel and indulge in foods that do not support our nutritive needs highly stressful. Clients are also often worried how their current health and diet prescription fits into this whirlwind of yang energy. Here is a simplified ten-point survival plan for ensuring that you are not unnecessarily overwhelmed by the party season.
Other Winter Lifestyle Suggestions
Winter really is a time for nurturing yourself and treating yourself particularly gently. You will gain many health benefits from finding time to be at peace and to stay warm; allowing your inner fire to gently smoulder along and quietly fuel you through until Spring. Curl up with a good book and a fluffy blanket, light a candle, meditate, walk (not run) in the snow, be still, watch your breath outside on frosty mornings, journal, paint, sketch, embroider, knit or crochet; if it’s sunny wrap up warm and take a hot drink outside; and always make sure you’ve got a wholesome broth, soup or stew ready for when you come inside after playing in the snow!