Old Man Winter is slowly approaching!
When the weather gets colder, try to make some time for yourself to restore your energy. Don’t resist the urge to nestle into your snug home. It turns out that, just like with every other living thing, the law of nature requires you to slow down in the winter. Here are five secrets that will help you preserve your energy and bring you health, happiness, and peace of mind.
Winter: the sleep of nature
The winter season is when nature sleeps, and everything experiences the slowing of natural processes — even our bodies. Humans stopped hibernating like their ancestors long ago, but our bodies still experience the natural tendency to slow down when winter comes. The winter is a time to rest, restore, and rebuild our reserves. The winter season brings special attention to the kidneys, the adrenal glands, and the bladder. When these bodily systems are not in balance, energy stores can get depleted and this can lead to illness. During the cold months of winter, people are more prone to colds, flu, poor circulation, low energy, and seasonal mood disorders.
To stay healthy, happy, and vital, follow this wise winter advice:
1. Early to bed, early to rise…makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!
As often as possible, go to sleep early and wait to let the sun come up and light up the house before getting out of bed. Get your zzz’s in — at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Try taking a 20 to 30 minute leisurely, fresh air walk one hour before you go to bed to help improve the quality of your sleep.
2. Nurture your energy storage
The three months of winter are when all living things should return home and be conserved. Engage in activities that are in harmony with the natural rhythm of winter.
- Physical movement is essential for circulating energy — but avoid perspiring excessively. Nurture your energy reserves by being active in a moderate way. Walking is one moderate activity to keep your energy up. Or consider practicing tai chi or qigong exercises, which are very effective in balancing energy.
- Avoid energy-depleting activities. Don’t try to do too much in one day. Try making only one or two items a priority every day. Also, be sure you give yourself some personal time, not just from other people, but also from our modern amenities that claim more and more of our personal space, such as TV, computers, and smart phones. Try this: pick one day a week to “unplug.” Turn off the TV. Don’t watch the news. Limit your email time. These are the ways to maintain your energy and lessen stress.
3. Be content
Avoid experiencing excessive emotions in the winter. They can drain your energy reserves and lower resistance.
- Follow your bliss. Use the cold dark days of winter to stay in and snuggle up with a book. Or pick up a new indoor hobby, like knitting, woodcarving, baking — whatever makes you happy!
- Beat the winter blues with light therapy. Studies show that exposure to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland, which affects the production of other brain chemicals such as serotonin, the neurotransmitter sometimes called the “mood chemical.” It can also boost your immune system, waking up the activities of the natural killer cells that patrol our bodies looking for intruders and cancer cells.
If the weather cooperates, get outside daily and let the sun bathe you with its life-giving and spirit-lifting properties. Even in the winter, avoid overexposure with a natural sunscreen if out in the sun between 10 am – 3 pm.
4. Eat for the season: limit raw and cold foods
To keep your health and energy up in the cold months of winter, the avoid cold and raw foods. Reduce salt to protect your kidneys, and increase bitter flavored foods (like kale, for instance.) Steer clear of raw vegetables, cold salads, and icy cold foods and drinks. Your diet should follow nature’s menu for the season.
In the winter, you should strive toward a warming diet including leeks, onions, and turnips. Also, iron-rich foods can help warm you up: try spinach, broccoli, dried plums, oats, quinoa, sunflower and sesame seeds, walnuts, yams, squash, kale, garlic, scallions, and parsley. Hearty soups are good for you during the winter months. Drink only warm or hot water.
5. Avoid coldness and linger around warmth
Be like a cat….always seeking warmth.
- Dress warmly, paying special attention to your middle. Keeping your abdomen warm and protected from weather extremes has immense immunity benefits. A good way to replenish your energy bank is to regularly place a hot water bottle on your middle.
- Drink warming tea to keep your winter energy fired up. Steep 1 teaspoon of any of the following in 1 cup of hot water: ginger, cinnamon, and clove.
- Chinese herbs can protect your energy reserves and boost your immunity. Astragalus and ginseng are considered to be adaptogens — natural substances that improve the body’s resistance to physical and environmental stress, thereby enhancing the immune system.