Winter can be a tough time for many of us. The days are shorter, the weather is colder, and we tend to spend more time indoors. It's no surprise that some people start to feel a little down or depressed during this time of year. This is known as the "winter blues" or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs during the same season each year, typically in the fall and winter months. It is thought to be caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the amount of daylight, colder temperatures, and disruptions to the body's natural rhythms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a holistic approach to health and well-being that may be helpful for relieving symptoms of seasonal depression. In TCM, the winter season is associated with the water element and the kidney organ system.
By following these TCM wellness tips, you can help beat the winter blues and stay healthy and happy all season long. Remember, it's important to listen to your body and do what feels best for you. With a little self-care and attention, you can thrive during the colder months and come out feeling refreshed and revitalized.
1) Get enough sunlight
Get enough sunlight can be tempting to stay inside all winter, but getting some fresh air and sunlight can do wonders for your mood and overall well-being. Take a walk or spend some time in nature, even if it's just for a few minutes. It may be helpful to take a walk mid-day, as the sun is at its highest priority and your body may manufacture Vitamin D most efficiently around that time of the day.
2) Eat warm, nourishing foods
Eat a nourishing, balanced diet. In TCM diets, it's important to eat foods that are in season and nourish the body. During the winter months, this means incorporating plenty of warm, grounding foods like root vegetables, grains, and soups. Warming foods are foods that add heat to your body and raise Yang energy. Examples of warming foods and Asian herbs and superfoods in TCM diets include ginger tea, sweet potatoes, black pepper, cinnamon, pumpkin, garlic, and walnuts.
3) Stay hydrated
It's easy to forget to drink enough water in the winter, but staying hydrated is important for maintaining good health. Try to drink at least 8 cups of water a day, and consider herbal teas as an additional source of hydration. Asian teas without caffeine you can enjoy include ginger tea, chrysanthemum tea, and barley tea.
4) Exercise regularly
Exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. While it can be harder to stay active in the colder months, there are still plenty of ways to stay active, such as going for a walk or jog, practicing yoga, or joining an online workout class.
5) Get enough sleep
Adequate sleep is essential for good health and well-being, and it's especially important in the winter when our bodies need extra rest to stay healthy. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and create a relaxing bedtime routine to help you fall asleep easily. Jujube tea, magnesium, and camomile tea are some ways to help calm your mind down before bed.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote healing. It is thought to help regulate the body's natural rhythms and functions, and may be effective for a variety of conditions, including depression and anxiety.
7) Herbal remedies
TCM practitioners may recommend certain herbs to help balance the body's energy and alleviate symptoms of the winter blues. For example, Asian superfoods such as ginseng and astragalus are believed to boost energy and immunity, while licorice, schisandra, and reishi mushroom are thought to have a calming effect on the mind.
8) Qi Gong
Qi Gong is a Chinese exercise and meditation practice that involves gentle movements, deep breathing, and visualization. It is believed to help balance the body's energy and improve overall health and well-being. Practicing Qi Gong during the winter months may help alleviate the winter blues by boosting mood and increasing energy levels.
9) Keep extremities warm
In TCM, it's believed that the feet are connected to the rest of the body through a network of energy channels, or meridians. It's important to keep the feet warm and protected, as cold feet can disrupt the flow of energy throughout the body and lead to imbalances. Be sure to wear socks indoors and mittens when going outside. You can even add hand warmers in the pockets of your jackets for extra warmth.
10) Practice self-care
It's important to take care of yourself, especially during the winter months when you might be feeling a little down. This can include activities like taking a warm bath, acupressure massage with gua sha, meditating, journaling, or spending time with friends and loved ones. In addition, creating a clean and cozy environment is crucial to help declutter the mind.
It's important to note that TCM should be used as a complementary treatment and not as a replacement for conventional medical care. If you are experiencing the winter blues, it's important to seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.