Staying healthy means staying in harmony with the energy of the season. The Tiajitu – the yin/yang symbol pictured to the right – is a map for this. It shows that as we flow into the watery blue of the yin, we must stay connected to the seed of the fiery red. There is yang in the yin and yin in the yang, just as there is light in the darkness and darkness in the light.
To stay in harmony during these darker days of the winter solstice and the weeks that follow we invite you to consider the following:
Get outside. See the light of the sun on a daily basis – for at least 30 minutes. This is especially true for those who work inside or who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder. The sun helps increase serotonin levels, the “feel good” neurotransmitter.
Keep Active. Keep the blood moving by exercising your body and joints daily. Stretch, dance and walk. Choose activities that move in harmony with this slower season.
Stay warm and dry. In 5-element theory, winter is associated with the water element and the kidneys. Extreme cold can injure them, leading to emotional imbalances like fear and physical imbalance related to immunity.
Oil your body. Winter can dry the skin. Keeping it well lubricated will keep this organ – one of the largest in the body – healthy, vital and vibrant. (see “Rituals” sidebar) It will also protect our insides from the things we want to keep outside!
Cozy up with tea. During the winter, a plant’s energy is in its roots. We can help strengthen and tonify our own roots by boiling up fresh or dried root teas. Fresh ginger root is a favorite winter tea because of its warming properties.
Eat soups. Warm, grounding, nourishing foods keep digestion in good order during the cold winter season, and good digestion equals good health. Slow cooked roots, stewed whole grains, and salty miso and sea vegetables make excellent staples. (see “Soup” sidebar)
Take your herbs. St. John’s Wort, also known as “Bottled Sunshine” helps support emotional balance, nervous system function and immune system function. Wild Lettuce supports sleep function.
Relax & Sleep! During the winter we must be careful not to run our batteries down with stress and the plethora of holiday obligations. Instead, get plenty of sleep. Take time to relax with baths, body work, and daily massages (see “Rituals” sidebar).
Like the hibernating bear dreaming in her cave, the dark days of winter CAN bring much needed rest and respite when we allow it. Staying in balance means being in harmony with both the darkness and with the seeds of light contained within it. Doing so will nourish and carry you into more dynamic phases of the year, with more energy and ease.