1. Early to bed, rise when the sun is up
Go to sleep early and wait to let the sun bathe the house before rising
from bed. Get your zzz's in -- at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
Try taking a 20- to 30-minute easy walk one hour before you go to bed to
improve the quality of your sleep.
2. Be contented
The Yellow Emperor advises us to avoid experiencing excessive emotions
in the winter because they drain your energy reserves.
• Follow your bliss. Use the cold dark days of winter to stay in and
cuddle up with a book, or pick up a new indoor hobby, like knitting,
woodcarving, baking -- whatever appeals to you.
• Beat the winter blues with light therapy. Studies show that exposure
to sunlight stimulates the pineal gland, which affects the production of
other brain chemicals such as serotonin, the neurotransmitter sometimes
called the "mood chemical." It can also boost your immune system, waking
up the activities of the natural killer cells that patrol our borders
looking for intruders and cancer cells. If weather permits, get outdoors
daily and let the sun bathe you with its life-giving and spirit-lifting
properties. Even in the winter, avoid overexposure with sunscreen if out
in the sun between 10 am - 3 pm.
3. Nurture energy storage
The three months of winter are when all living things should return home
and be conserved. Engage in activities that are in harmony with the
energies of winter.
• Physical movement is essential for circulating energy -- but avoid
perspiring excessively. In Chinese medicine, the sweat is seen as an
escape of yang energy. Nurture your energy reserves by being active in a
moderate way. Walking is one moderate activity to keep your energy up.
Or consider practicing tai chi or qigong exercises, which are very
effective in balancing energy.
• Avoid energy-depleting activities. Don't try to do too much in one
day. Try making only one or two items a priority every day. And be sure
you give yourself some personal time, not just from other people, but
also from our modern amenities that claim ever more of our personal
space, such as TV, computers, and smart phones. Try this: pick one day a
week to perform your own "system restore." Turn off the TV. Don't watch
the news. Limit your email time. These are the ways to maintain your
energy and lessen stress.
4. Eat for the season: no raw, cold foods
To keep your health and energy up in the cold months of winter, the
Yellow Emperor recommends avoiding cold and raw foods, reducing salt to
protect your kidneys, and increasing bitter flavors (like kale, for
instance.) So steer clear of raw vegetables, cold salads, and icy cold
foods and beverages. Instead your diet should follow nature's menu for
In winter, you'll tend toward a warming diet including leeks, onions,
and turnips. Also, iron-rich foods can help warm you up: try spinach,
broccoli, dried plums, oats, quinoa, sunflower and sesame seeds,
walnuts, yams, squash, kale, garlic, scallions, and parsley. Hearty
soups are good for you during the winter months. Drink only warm or hot
5. Avoid coldness and linger around warmth
• Dress warmly, paying special attention to your middle. In Chinese
medicine, the abdomen is considered the storehouse of the body's energy.
Keeping your abdomen warm and protected from weather extremes has
immense immunity benefits. A good way to replenish your energy bank is
to regularly place a hot water bottle on your middle.
• Drink warming tea to keep your
Vitality fired up. Steep 1 teaspoon of
any of the following in 1 cup of hot water: ginger, cinnamon, and clove.
• Chinese herbs can protect your energy reserves and boost your
immunity. Astragalus and ginseng are considered to be adaptogens --
natural substances that improve the body's resistance to physical and
environmental stress, thereby enhancing the immune system.
I hope this advice gives you the steps for a healthy, happy winter! I
invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and
longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!