Winter is a beautiful time to slow down, reflect and nourish oursleves. However for alot of us it can be a dark icy hell leading to a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that can include a range of symptoms like depression, fatigue, irritabilty and lack of motivation.
Why do some of us struggle?
Every person has heridiarty weakness in Chinese Medicine each season tend towards a weakness, people that strugle with winter tend towards the a Kidney/adrenal weakness (known as a water element weakness).
The Common Complaints of Winter
- Lack of Motivation
- Feeling stuck/everything is a strugle
The Key factors that cause us to feel this way
Lack of sunlight/darkness: Winter is the time when we get the least amount of sunlight and the hardest time absorbing Vitamin D. This is due to the curvature of the sunlight on the earth during this period.
Vitamin D is vital for over 1000 chemical reactions in our body and is very important for keeping our mood happy. As well as Vitamin D, we also miss out on ultraviolet light from the sun which is useful for keeping bacterial/yeast or fungal infections from growing on our skin. Lastly is the lack of infrared heat from the sun which is needed for celluar detoxifcation and energy.
Cold slows us down : If you ever studied chemistry you would know that chemcial reactions require a thing called "optimal temperature" to get the most effective rate of reaction. Simply put, if the temperature is too low or too high, the chemical rate of reaction will slow down. Reduced chemcial reaction means our body is working harder to balance itself, underfunctioning, and producing less results, which can show symptoms similar to hypothroidism. Optimal temperature is 37.5.
Cold contracts and causes Stagnation : Cold slows things down and also causes contraction. Contraction leads to blood constriction resulting in poor blood flow, including symptoms such as feeling cold feet/hands, discoloured hands or lips and lack of sensation. Stagnation can cause a pleuthora of physical problems e.g late or painful periods and irritability.
Chinese Medicine Solutions for staying healthy during the winter
Keep Warm: If you are person that has cold feet all day you have done your body a dis service by not keeping it warm enough. Cold feet will encourage fatigue because your body is working harder to stay warm. The Kidney meridian is located in the foot and can get cold stagnation in the kidney meridan which can lead to a lack of will power. Will power is associated with the kidney/water element in Chinese medicine.
- Have a bath/foot soak until your feet are warm and toasty.
- Have good boots and socks to keep your feet warm.
- Don't walk on the cold floor.
- Get infrared heat from moxabustion, a fire place or even a better an infrared sauna.
- Make sure you a dressing enough to feel warm instead of baring the cold.
- Eat warm foods and avoid raw uncooked foods. Raw food can lower the core body temp making the body work harder and expend precious energy.
Herbs: Home Made chai without black tea or dairy
Keep Moving: Walk daily if you are person that feels really stuck in winter, it will make a world a of difference even if it's the last thing you feel like doing! If you're able to do short periods (15-20 mins) of high intensity weights or body weights without causing a sweat, this can help improve your circulation and metabolic rate for 48 hours after exercise which also helps to improve mood.
Mental stagnation is the worst, you can tell you have mental stagnation when everything you try do seems like too much effort. The quickest way to help your mind is to make a descision to warm up and get some movement ASAP
Herbs : Bupleuru Root
Support Your Kidneys and Adrenals:
As the saying goes, 'wake up late and go to bed early.' This is how to sleep in harmony with winter. Your body needs more sleep due to the lack of energy/sunlight during this time.
To maximise your other seasons its best to hold back in winter and strike when the iron is hot in summer and the warmer months.
Support your adrenals during this time by increasing B12 intake through foods or supplements as well as Vitamin D e.g liver or cod liver oil.
Switching to more of high fat diet and low carb diet can give you an extra boost of energy during winter.
Herbs : Rheumnia Root
For more information of Kidney/ Adrenal support click here
Chinese medicine benfits from this Season
Winter is not all bad and we can learn to make the most of the season so you can get some extra benefits that we wouldn't get in any other season.
Winter is the best time to meditate: As the energy slows down around us, so does our body and during this time it is much easier to meditate. As cold is contracting it also draws our attention and energy inwards. Often winter is when we get really good ideas that act as seeds of action for the coming months. Getting deeper into our body and subconscious as nessccary proccess for growth and development. To start pracitcing meditation Click here.
We can digest denser foods and strengthen the kidneys and adrenals:
As our pores stay closed during winter and blood supply directs to our core, our body acts very much like a pressure cooker. During this season and we can digest denser foods. It is optimal to have high saturated fat meals, seafoods, nuts, bone broths and animal prodcuts during this time. This will store vital nutrients to support us in the upcoming months. Descicious tree's do the same thing during winter, in where they store large quantities of water in the roots to survive off for the upcoming warmer months.
To fully optimise your health and happiness during the winter months click here to book an appointment for a full health consultation, acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine!
This information is for learning purposes, do not take herbs or supplements reccomended before consulting your health care proffesional.