health, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

How to live well this winter

Well! Winter is certainly packing a punch this year. My weather app says we’re due for -4 degrees Celsius tonight. Brrrrrrrrrrr.  Note to self: I need to refresh my winter wardrobe.Winter leunig

But what about winter and your health? Winter has a bad reputation for ‘catching a cold’ and cops the flack for setting the scene for ‘flu season’.

Here in Launceston, we certainly notice the seasons in a big way particularly as the days are much shorter and the temperature is much cooler. And those frosts!

In keeping with my other seasonal living guides (summer and autumn), here is your guide to living well in winter.

Winter is all about the Water element (in which we find the Kidneys and Bladder). It is when the Yang (hot, energetic Qi) is hidden by the Yin (cool, peaceful Qi) accumulation. And so we crave:

    • Comfort and being cosy
    • Embracing the indoors, or well warmed outdoor spaces
    • Introversion
    • Getting more sleep (earlier to bed, later to rise – just like the sun)
    • Using the warm quilt and/or flannelette sheets
    • Getting crafty (crocheting or knitting? I heard they are the new yoga!)
    • Comforting foods – soups, stews, curries, apple cinnamon crumble

Top tips for good health in winter:

  • Storing and building our energy for the spring. By reading the ideas above it certainly sounds like this is exactly what winter is for.
  • Keep warm. Not so warm you work up a sweat but enough to protect that Yang Qi. Think of it a little as you need to keep your internal furnace firing so that when you are out in the cold you can warm back up quickly again. Most importantly keep your feet and lower back warm. There is no place for a midriff top in winter! And if there is a cold breeze around wrap a scarf around your neck. There should ALWAYS be something on your feet, particularly if the floor is cool. Also keep your bed comfortably warm.
  • Get a dose of sunlight on a clear day. The far infrared rays will warm you on a cool day and boost your mood. Here’s a guide to sunlight exposure for vitamin D in the winter.
  • Keep exercising within comfortable limits. Winter may be a time to slow down and get indoors but we still need some moderate activity to keep us healthy and happy.
  • Wash your hands regularly. Being inside more often exposes you to more people’s germs in confined spaces. Wash your hands regularly to reduce your risk of catching a cold or flu.
  • Protect your skin and respiratory system from dryness. Find yourself a good natural moisturiser (no, sorbelene won’t do) to nourish your face and body. Use lip balm. Modify the humidity in your home if necessary. Increase the good oils in your diet. I love these organic oils and this lovely Tassie skincare range developed by a naturopath.
  • Eat warm. Include some nourishing dishes made with seasonal produce in your diet. Make use of some warming foods and spices. Chinese medicine likes to include some dark coloured foods too (eg. black sesame – seeds or tahini, black soy beans and black wood ear mushrooms). Now is also the time to partake in preserved foods. Salads, juices and smoothies are best left until the weather warms up again. And swap the muesli and smoothies for porridge or congee.
  • A wee nip of alcohol in moderation warms from within. In fact a Ming Dynasty doctor recommended “Alcoholic beverages are bitter and acrid in flavour and hot in thermal nature. When consumed regularly and in the right amount, alcohol regulates blood flow, promotes Qi circulation, stimulates the mind and warms the body.” What is the right amount? Please read these guidelines.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

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