‘Tis the Season!
‘Tis the Season!
Isn’t it funny how busy schedules, party planning, and gift buying often take precedence during a time of year that is meant for slowing down, reflecting, and rejuvenating? In Chinese medicine, winter is associated with the Kidneys, the most yin of the five elements. Yin is a commonplace word in Chinese medicine meaning that which is still, quiet, reflective, receptive and grounding. As the days get shorter and the darkness longer, our natural bodily rhythms want to follow: sleeping more, resting more, listening more and RELAXING more. In the midst of it all, let us come back to ourselves and remember what this season is all about.
Here are 5 tips to bringing us back into alignment with the season:
1. Sleep like a baby
Babies sleep a lot, and so should you this time of year. This is naturally the season our body and mind uses to rejuvenate itself. Sleep is the time when our bodies are free of daily tasks and get to work on repair. Good, restful sleep positively affects our mood, stress level and immunity. Having trouble sleeping?
Get a Chinese herbal formula made for you to address any physiological imbalances that prevent quality zzz’s. I have also found Irwin Naturals “Power to Sleep” pills very effective before bed if I feel stressed or over-stimulated before I hit the hay. Remember, avoiding stimulation like TV, computer, and stressful conversations before bed is helpful for sleep.
We are very blessed to have such a great yoga studio right in downtown Marshall (Magictown Movement Studio). Take advantage of it this holiday season and I can almost guarantee you’ll leave with more energy, less stress, and have improved sleep. Just one class a week can really make a difference. Any form of moderate exercise right now is beneficial, but yoga and other movement arts (qigong, nia, tai chi) are especially helpful because they are more yin in nature, hence leaving you more grounded and centered.
3. Foot Baths
I am a huge fan of these as a stress-relieving tool. It’s amazing how just soaking your feet in salt water for 15 minutes can relax your neck, shoulders, and other areas that usually carry our tension. Since we are also in the Water element season, this is a perfect way to personally connect with the stillness of this healing substance.
You can fill your bathtub with hot water, or a basin big enough to cover your feet. Add 1-2 cups of Epsom salts, mix and soak. You can add 10-15 drops of essential oils to the salts before putting them in the water. Consider lavender, clary sage, and rose for stress relief; cinnamon, fir, cedarwood if winter chill is hard for you.
4. Herbal Love
Taking herbal medicine daily during stressful periods can be an irreplaceable support to our bodies and minds. Custom Chinese herbal formulas (and acupuncture) of course are a great option.
My favorite herbs for calming the nervous system that are available at most natural health food stores are: Skullcap and/or Lemon Balm tinctures, 2 dropperfuls 4 times a day; Tulsi aka Holy Basil tea as needed, and “Cup of Calm” by Traditional Medicinals tea.
5. Finding a sense of faith
Each element in Chinese medicine is associated with a certain emotion. When in balance this season’s Water element has to do with faith and wisdom. This is the deep faith that comes when you feel in alignment with your life path and what is coming next in life. You are able to let go of the need to control and the ability to sit with the unknown. It is a place of peace. This element out of balance has to do with the emotion of fear.
Utilize the energy of this season by spending time being quiet so you can hear the wisdom within and see where your fears lie. Think of dark, candle lit rooms and quiet walks in the woods for inspiration. Examining and moving through our fears often strengthen our faith and wisdom. As scary as it may be, out of the darkness arises the light.
May peace and joy be with you and yours through this holiday season!