Staying Healthy In Winter

The traditional Chinese wisdom regarding the seasonal affects of winter suggests that it is a time of regeneration, reflection, renewal and the wise apportionment of our resources. Our ancestors weren’t gifted with the benefits of technology most of us currently enjoy and even take for granted. Their winters were likely darker, colder, lonelier and with less access to resources such as grocery stores abundant with fresh fruit from South America, Netflix and cable entertainment or snowplows to clear away the likelihood of cabin fever!

DSC 0016

So winter suggests a time when we must face ourselves and explore the depths of who we are. Think of the foliage of the other seasons now stripped away, revealing basic structure and essence. We say the winter relates to the bones, the skeletal essence of a person. You know how we say we know something in our bones? The ancient Chinese suggested that our ancestral energy, akin to DNA, but more than just physical characteristics, reside in our bones. We come to know ourselves and the gifts and challenges we carry with us from previous generations when we descend into the reflective energies of deep winter.

Ideally, the winter affords us the opportunity to slow down, tend to only that which is essential and to discover our inner strength and capabilities. As winter offers the natural world around us time for more rest and less activity, it suggests that our inner nature needs similar down time. It is a season for us to work smarter, not harder. It calls us to wisdom in how we use our energy and resources as it emphasizes renewing and restoring energy for the seasons to come.

When your Kidneys are working well, the proper amount of heat is generated in your body, and normal precautions like “bundling up” in the winter will prevent cold from entering and getting trapped in your body. When your Kidneys are out of balance, you’ll notice a persistent feeling of cold in your lower back and extremities. If this is the case, you need to strengthen them. Otherwise you’ll be more vulnerable to pathogens and illness.

Sleep and dreams are of great importance in the winter. When we dream, we tap our subconscious, an inner voice that we often cannot hear in the hustle and bustle of daily activities. Acupuncture points for winter often are used for hearing—deep listening to one’s self and to others to discern what is of true importance and what is extraneous. Consider writing down dreams or even snippets that you recall. You might “hear” something you are telling yourself about how you are living and what you might prioritize when it’s time to grow your next “garden,” come the spring.

We can avail ourselves of the gifts of winter at anytime during the year: set limits and boundaries to your activities, assuring time for rest and reflection. Get some extra sleep to renew your body and mind, while possibly connecting with your inner voice through dreams. Take time to yourself. Who are you, now that you’ve come through the last cycle of seasons? Who do you want to be when the light, warmth and creativity of the spring returns? Where do you want to direct your life’s energy when movement is again possible and appropriate?


Winter Food Tips
Ancient wisdom tells us that “for everything there is a season ...”. With this in mind, here are some diet and nutrition tips for the Winter season:  Eat root vegetables like carrots, onions, potatoes, beets, and (unsweetened) Winter squash. Miso soup is a nourishing Winter soup that provides a healthy way to get the moderate amount of salt you need.

  • Eat foods that are high in calcium to strengthen your kidneys. aduki beans would be a particularly good addition to your Winter diet. Black beans, black “woodear” mushrooms, and black “cloudear” mushrooms will also add robustness to your Kidney energy.