We entered the start of Winter in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) this month, and many of us are starting to feel the cold weather settle in. Fall and Winter are already associated with cold and flu season, and with COVID-19 still spreading across the US, this Winter can feel especially stressful to prepare for.
TCM takes the seasons seriously, and therefore TCM has many valuable suggestions to offer for how you can best prepare your body for Winter. Below, we share with you easy, practical ways to incorporate the ancient wisdom of TCM in your everyday life.
Eat Less Raw Food – Focus on Slow Cooked, Soft Food
Raw food can be more difficult to digest and cooling for the body, and therefore it is recommended to avoid raw food during the Winter. Instead, focus on enjoying slow cooked, soft, hot meals in your diet. Cooking with Ginger is an excellent way to make your food extra warming, while adding Astragalus to your grains (rice, quinoa, etc.) will give you an immune boost in your meal.
Keep Your Neck Warm
If you don’t own a scarf… this might change your mind. When your neck is uncovered when you are out in the cold, you may tend to hunch up your shoulders to protect your neck. Unfortunately, this shoulder hunching will block your lymph from flowing, which is an uh-oh, because the lymphatic system is your body’s first defense in your immune system – and you don’t want to inhibit that!
Start Taking Immune Boosting Herbs
It’s especially important to take immune boosting herbs this winter, and you want to get your routine in place before a cold day hits your immune system. We recommend meeting with an acupuncturist to find the right blend of immune boosting herbs for you. My family has also loved Wellness Formula for years as an option available at the grocery store.
In TCM, the Winter is the time of your Kidney system, which is considered the source of your sexuality, wealth, creativity, and willpower. Sleeping in the Winter strengthens your Kidney system, preparing you for the more energetic seasons of Spring and Summer.
As a bonus, it is also recommended to sleep in colder temperatures. Instead of setting your thermostat at 70F, turn it down to 65F for the night. Of course, stay warm with cozy blankets and pajamas if needed. The intention is not for you to feel cold, instead, breathing the cooler air helps strengthen your system through the cold season, and you may find yourself sleeping deeper.
Build Your Meditation Practice
Winter is naturally a more inward-focused season, making it an easier time to either start, or grow your meditation practice. Insight Timer allows you to easily create a timed meditation session with all the bells and chimes you desire. If you don’t want to start with silence, Tara Brach offers a library of guided meditations.