Winter can be a beautiful time of year, depending on where you live. The colder months also signal extra darkness, and a stark change from our normal rhythms, which could feel pretty abrupt for the body – hence, cold and cough season.
But luckily there are many things we can do to support our bodies, and I’m excited to share my favorite tips for how to stay well during winter.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), staying healthy in winter involves maintaining a balance of energy and ensuring the smooth flow of Qi (life force) throughout the body.
Read on for some of my favorite tips for Winter Wellness…
How to Stay Well During Winter
1. Keep Warm: Sounds obvious, right? In TCM, cold is considered an external pathogen that can disrupt the flow of Qi in the body. It’s important to keep your body warm during winter by wearing appropriate clothing, especially covering the neck, lower back, and feet.
2. Eat Warming Foods: Include warming foods in your diet to counteract the cold. These include ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and black pepper. Consume soups, like my Nourishing Lentil Soup, stews, and warm herbal teas to nourish and support your body.
3. Stay Hydrated: Although it may be less noticeable, dehydration can still occur in winter. Drink warm water, herbal teas, and soups to stay hydrated and support your body’s functions. This Vanilla Cardamom Hot Cocoa is my favorite – it’s delicious and perfect for this time of year.
4. Rest and Conserve Energy: Winter is considered a time for rest and restoration in TCM. It’s important to listen to your body’s need for rest and avoid overexertion. This is the time of year to give yourself a pass from all the doing, and just slow down. Allow yourself ample time for sleep and relaxation.
5. Engage in Gentle Exercise: Engage in gentle exercises like Tai Chi, Qi Gong, or yoga to keep your Qi flowing smoothly. These practices not only help maintain physical health but also promote mental and emotional well-being. They’ve helped me during the most difficult time in my life, and I still continue to practice them today.
6. Protect Your Kidneys: Did you know that, in TCM, the kidneys are considered the foundation of health during winter? Your adrenals also sit right on top of your kidneys, and maybe you’ve heard of “adrenal fatigue.” It’s this whole area that gets energetically zapped by the elements, as well as by stress, which can all lead to burnout. Keep your lower back and feet warm, as they are vulnerable to cold. Consider wearing warm socks, using heating pads, or soaking your feet in warm water to support kidney health.
7. Boost Your Immunity: Strengthen your immune system to prevent winter illnesses. Eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Incorporate immune-boosting herbs like astragalus, ginseng, and reishi mushrooms into your diet or consult a TCM practitioner for appropriate herbal formulas. If you aren’t a fan of warm temperature foods but still would love some benefits, try my Soothing Winter Green Smoothie.
8. Maintain Emotional Well-being: Winter can be a time when emotions like sadness or depression may surface. That’s OK. I think it’s important to welcome these feelings and not push them down, AND, engage in activities that bring you joy, practice mindfulness or meditation. Of course, seek support from loved ones or professionals if needed. But the main idea here is to prioritize your well being and keep yourself balanced so that you have a healthy level of joy and love in your life, too.
I hope this post helps you during these colder months. You can browse my winter recipes for extra support. Remember, these tips are based on TCM principles and should be used as a complementary approach to your overall health.