Nourish your mind and body this Winter
Take special care of yourself with these easy winter health tips inspired by Chinese medicine. Good any time of year, these activities are particularly associated with improved health in wintertime.
1. Sleep. Achieve better sleep by retiring to bed before 10 p.m., turning your electronics off at least an hour before. Keep a notepad by your bed and make a list if you find your mind wandering or ruminating on tasks. Focus on deep breathing and massage sore spots to allow your body to slip into maximum relaxation. Here’s more sleep tips.
2. Water. During the winter months, drink water at room temperature or warmer: no ice! In the morning, enjoy warm water with lemon and honey to cleanse, lubricate and prepare the body for digestion. Drink tea for warmth (chai or oolong are great for winter) and try to avoid sugary beverages, such as fruit juice or sodas. Avoid drinking water with your meals – let your saliva do the work! And, be sure to space out your food intake throughout the day. Think of what happens when you try to water a dehydrated plant – the water goes right through it and isn’t easily absorbed. The same happens to your body!
3. Breathe. Focused breath work throughout the day can help you relax and focus. It seems so obvious, but learning to breathe effectively can really change your health. Rest one hand just below your belly button and guide your breath deep into your abdomen. Begin with a count of five breaths in and out, allowing your belly to fill and empty. Think taking in clean, pure, nourishing air and then exhale any heavy or negative energy you carry. You can increase your count as you feel comfortable and as your body allows. Here’s more on using your breath.
4. Eat. Nutritious foods with healthy fats and warming spices, like cinnamon and ginger. Think pumpkin pie spices!
5. Rest. Winter is a time to relax and reflect, set goals and put pieces in place for the spring. Meditate, breathe, and develop a strong, focused mind-body connection to help you better achieve those goals.
6. Movement. Focus on practices with steady movements and move with purpose. Join yoga a warm you up class, or a restorative, yin yoga class to really ride the winter wave. Here in the Heights we suggest we suggest: Sattva Yoga, Gaze, Jai Dee Massage & Yoga, Take Me To The River, or even a community class at Sweetwater Farm’s Sunday Yoga on the Porch.
7. Moxibustion. In addition to warming foods and herbs, moxa is great for the wintertime. Cold trapped in the body can cause tightness and pain. The warming nature of moxa helps to relieve symptoms of pain and stagnation, but more importantly, it strengthens and warms the body to prevent the effects of cold.
8. Salt Baths and Foot Soaks. Baths and foot soaks are a great way to keep the body warm and gently increase circulation. They’re used for body aches, stress, sore feet, headaches, back pain, menstrual cramps, and more. At SHCA, we make our own foot soaks too! Adding a little sea salt to your soak helps nourishes the body in the wintertime. Learn more about foot soaks here.
9. Skin Brushing. Brush away dead skin with a coarse-bristled body brush or nubby dry washcloth on dry skin to wake up the lymphatic system. Dry skin brushing helps to reduce sluggishness and improve immune function, not to mention it makes your skin feel alive again in the dead of winter. Once you slough off the dead skin, nourish your body with “warming” oils, like sesame, almond, avocado, or walnut.
Inspired by Sheri LM Lee, L.Ac. at 8 Branches Chinese Medicine in Milwaukee, WI