Classical acupuncture is firmly based on the ancient Chinese medicine theories which are built around cycles of time and space and the changing of the seasons. It may come as a surprise, but according to these theories, winter is a lousy time to take on the burden of New Year’s Resolutions! Winter is a time when the energies of the seasons are at rest, a time of reflection, a time to look inwards and to restore ourselves in preparation for spring. Winter could be considered a good time to re-evaluate the path we are on, but not a good time to take up new activities; the energy of the winter is not conducive to making lasting, sustainable changes. For a better chance of success wait until the beginning of spring before embarking on a new regime, use the vitality and vigour of the spring energy to help you to make some really positive changes to your life.
Winter is a time when we should hunker down, a time where we can virtually hibernate, conserving energy, restoring balance and preparing ourselves for a burst of life in the spring. During the winter months we should aim to keep warm and well hydrated; make time for slow-cooked foods, roasted vegetables, hearty soups, warm drinks and snuggling by the fire. A drink made with a slice of fresh ginger in hot water makes a fantastic addition to your daily routine, helping to warm you from the inside out. From a dietary perspective, foods that have a particular affinity for winter use are the dark foods such as kidney beans, black beans, dark leafy greens and seaweed supplements.
Each season is associated with a particular Chinese Element, Winter is strongly associated with the Water Element. If you are not already using it, switch to Maldon Sea Salt instead of table salt as sea salt has a stronger affinity with the Water Element; recent evidence suggests that salt is not bad for you unless you take it in excessive amounts!
The Water Element is associated with the Kidneys. If you do outside activities or sport in these colder months, take care to keep the lower back covered and warm so the cold wind cannot drain vital energy from your Kidneys. If energetic sports are not your thing, it is a good idea to keep moving, especially with activities that involve fluid movements such as tai chi, yoga and any form of rhythmic dance.
Each of the seasonal Elements supports the Element of the season following so when you take care of yourself during the winter months, you will actually be building energy for a healthier, more invigorated spring. Spring is the best time to take up new resolutions and to make changes; it is associated with the Element of Wood which represents vitality, growth and the potential for change. So, for the best chance of success with your New Year’s Resolutions, put them off for a few months and concentrate on taking care of yourself through the remainder of the winter.