I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!
January is a time of reflection, on past experiences and future expectations. I spend the first week of the New Year looking over the coming months with a sense of excitement and mindful inventory of what needs to be done. After the slight indulgence during the festive season it’s easy to forget that winter isn’t near being finished and we still need to conserve energy for a strong foundation.
Winter and Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) cold is the governing factor of the winter. Just as we see a slowing down in nature with animals going into hibernation and plants harnessing its energy deep down in the roots, our bodies go through the same rhythm. After a year of blooms and growth, the main focus of winter is to reinforce our foundations to ready it for the following spring.
Now is the time of putting up the shutters as we leave the summer cottage. Dress accordingly – layers are essential especially with the cold-hot, cold-hot conditions of the heat turned up in buildings and on public transport with the chill of winter temperatures. The dryness we had in the autumn is still evident but now it’s more due to the wind and dry conditions of heating. Make sure to moisturise well after those lovely hot showers, and dab a little jojoba oil on your scalp once a week if you see a few dry flakes.
Unsurprisingly, cold is the main aspect we need to look out for during these darker months. This can be seen in as a cold sensation over the entire body or just an area, with clear mucus. Cold can often manifest in pain. This is simply due to cold causing the qi in the body to stagnate resulting in a blockage, and where there is a blockage there is pain. When the obstruction is removed the pain will subside.
Winter is the season of quietness and storage, as yang qi goes deep into the interior.
This is why when you’ve had a particularly bad bout of the cold or the flu, you really feel the chills and the blocked up head, but you’re also sensitive to the body aches that seem to come from nowhere.
If you do feel yourself feeling a bit under the weather the best thing to do is to have a really hot shower letting the hot water to hit the occipital region, the bony area at the base of your head. Then jump straight into bed and wrap up under the duvet even if you’re not feeling particularly cold. The aim here is to try to get your body to sweat it out.
General pain symptoms, like chronic back pain or arthritis, which have been milder during the warmer months may become more severe during the winter. More attention to stretches, making sure to stay warm and having acupuncture could ease the discomfort.
As nature slows down and looks inwardly, the main aim during this season is to harness our energy.
Eat warming foods that strengthen the kidney, the “fireplace” of the body. Now is the time for those lovely casseroles, make them with beef or lamb. Duck and venison are also “warming” or try lentils, kidney beans or black beans. Have your fill of leeks, fennel, onions and root vegetables. Add ginger, garlic, black pepper and spices to warm the body and help the qi along. Avoid cold foods like salads straight from the fridge. You will notice your body naturally seeking less of the sushi and more of the stews. Snack on walnuts and black sesame.
It’s important you don’t go into hibernation mode and overindulge on comfort foods. Fast food, sweet and stodgy foods, dairy products, sugary soft drinks and alcohol can all lead to dampness and phlegm which can weaken the Spleen and cause problems such as bronchitis and sinusitis. Your body is just a like a house, and damp can cause both acute and chronic problems. Control your snacking if you know you have a weakness for biscuits and tea so you can be in the best possible shape to defend yourself against the excesses of the festive season.
Your body’s qi is more sluggish in the winter and whilst it’s important to help move things along, we shouldn’t force it to go at speed. With the holiday season it is easy to spread yourself too thin with work deadlines, parties and family commitments. Remember to slow down. Enjoy seeing your hometown during these darker days with the shops lit up. Even if the wind is particularly biting on that day know that winter doesn’t last forever so take every opportunity to replenish your body during this time.
If you enjoyed this, then be sure to visit the blog The Happy Acupuncturist to read more articles, tips and health news.
Tips for creating a mindful home
I have written about mindfulness
and truly think it’s an integral part of surviving life in the 21st century. What is mindfulness, exactly? Susan Smalley, Ph.D., and Diana Winston, co-authors of Fully Present, say that mindfulness is “an accepting and kind attitude toward yourself and your present moment experience”.
Mindfulness can seem very abstract but it’s a lot easier to incorporate into your life than it seems. I found a really interesting article suggesting ways to practice mindfulness about the home. My favourite: Take a ten minute “mind re-set” break in the middle of the day. Read more here
If you have been kind enough to refer someone to me – I want to say a big THANK YOU. That is the highest compliment and it’s warmly appreciated every time.
Other news: Away notice
Please note there will be no appointments available on:
Friday, 18 January 2013
Saturday, 19 January 2013
Monday, 21 January 2013.
Call The Hale Clinic 020 7631 0156 to book.
Here is a wonderful quote from Edith Lovejoy Pierce a British-born American poet (1904-1983): “We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”