In Defense of Rest
Winter is the time for rest. In 5 Element Chinese Medicine there is literally a time and season for everything. From the burst of creative energy in spring to the blossoming of summer to the decline and harvest of fall. At the end of this creative cycle is winter, the most yin time of year. Ruled by the element of Water, it is a time to rest, go within and gather resources both physical and emotional. A time for internal work instead of external work, and self reflection. I think it brings us back to our essence. Like the trees whose sap moves down to the roots, it give us the opportunity to do the same.
I once dreaded winter and would count the days until summer, but it has become my favorite season. By the time January rolls around I am usually physically tired and mentally scattered. I find myself craving quiet and unscheduled time. The word that resonates with this time of year is resources. It feels necessary to me to restore my resources -- physical, emotional, mental, energetic -- and spend some time reflecting on how I want to spend them moving forward
It feels incredibly indulgent in our present culture to give oneself “downtime” but it is essential -- you cannot drive a car without gas or continue spending money if your bank account is empty. Winter is truly the time to refill the tank, to put resources “in the bank” to spend later. The majority of the patients I treat are experiencing the negative effects of stress and depletion. Taking this time for self care and rest not only improves your mental health, but your physical health as well.
A good place to start is getting 8 hours of sleep a day. Several studies have proven that sleep improves our overall health, and helps us maintain our bodies’ vital functions.
This Harvard Medical Study documents the physical benefits of sleep, and the detrimental effects of insufficient sleep:
“One of the most important...functions may be to provide cells and tissues with the opportunity to recover from the wear and tear of daily life. Major restorative functions in the body such as tissue repair, muscle growth, and protein synthesis occur almost exclusively during sleep”.
“Many other conclusions about the role sleep plays in maintaining health have come from studying what happens when humans and other animals are deprived of the sleep they need for example, scientists have discovered that insufficient sleep may cause health problems by altering levels of the hormones involved in such processes as metabolism, appetite regulation, and stress response”.
So! In defense of rest, and restoring our resources this winter, I highly recommend doing less, resting more, and getting 8 hours of sleep a night (and naps on weekends!) To inspire you here are some additional benefits of sleep:
Boosts your immune system.
Improves your memory.
Restores and energizes.
Improves concentration and productivity.
Slows down the aging process.
Helps with weight maintenance
Makes you happier
Increases pain tolerance
If you are having trouble sleeping, DM me to schedule an acupuncture treatment.