Tis the season for cold and wet weather, for colds and flu, for holiday and work stress, and for travel. It is also the season for self care, and rest, healthy habits and new years resolutions! As the weather grows colder, and the nights grow longer, this is the perfect time of year to reassess our habits and make time for ourselves. Here are my winter wellness self care suggests:
1. Get Acupuncture. The best time to treat any ailment is before it starts. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine are uniquely positioned to find imbalances before they progress into more serious conditions. Acupuncture supports the wei qi, which is like an invisible shield -- circulating and protecting the body against infections and environmental factors. Studies show that acupuncture increases the number of white blood cells which destroy bacteria and viruses. In addition, acupuncture alleviates stress, which impacts our physical, mental, and emotional well being.
2. Stress Less. I know this is easier said than done but stress interferes with almost every bodily function -- from digestion, to sleep, to fertility to immune function. When your nervous system is in “fight of flight” all “non essential” systems (ie. anything that is not required to fight or run away from a predator) are literally switched off. We spend many many hours every day in fight or flight, with disastrous effects on our health.Try and spend some time in “rest and digest’ every day, whether that is meditating in the morning, walking through the park at lunch, yoga after work, or turning your phone off on the weekends. Be disciplined about your downtime!
3. Sleep more. When you are depleted your defenses are down. Don’t get depleted. Winter is the time to rest and recharge -- take advantage of the cold and the dark and do less. Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night -- it may be the single most important thing you can do to prevent illness, and improve your overall health.
4. Keep Warm. Wear a scarf. In Chinese medicine, wind is considered an EPF (external pernicious factor) It can access your system through a point at the back of your neck and bring on a cold. This may sound a little far fetched, but when you get sick your neck gets achy, and your glands get swollen. So protect your neck!
5. Cook your food. All of it, even your veggies. Winter is not the time for cold raw food. It is best to eat warming, building foods that nourish and fortify. It is cold outside, so it is very important to stay warm on the inside. Roast your veggies, try healthy grains, cook soups and stews. And add in warming spices like ginger and cayenne. It will improve your digestion, and support your immune system.
6. Try Herbs. Since we are come in contact with coughing and sneezing people every day (thanks morning subway ride!) this time of year it is often a good idea to add some extra herbal support. Herbs like astragalus, echinacea and goldenrod have been proven to strengthen the immune system. Kitchen Herbs like oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary all have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Or choose a patent Chinese formula like Jade Windscreen or Immune Plus. DM me for more information.