Struggling to wake up full of energy in these dark winter mornings? Hitting the snooze button too often and snuggling back under the duvet?
This is true of many of us this time of year and often we blame our bodies, feeling they are somehow letting us down as we wonder at our lack of energy. So maybe we need to look at what is going on from a different perspective? The perspective of Chinese medicine …
Chinese medicine is thousands of years old and based on principles developed from living at one with nature and the environment. One of its main principles is learning to live in harmony with the seasons. By understanding and appreciating
the energetic shifts in both ourselves and nature, it provides us with ways and means to help us get the most out of each season as we go through the year.
So what does the winter landscape tell us about nature and energy? Looking outside the landscape is stripped back and bare, nature at its slowest and quietest. Winter, therefore, was considered a time for us to slow down, to conserve and build our energies for the year ahead, and a time for inward reflection. For example, in ancient, agricultural China it was normal to go to bed not long after dark and get up with the morning light - living at one with nature. There were many reasons for this apart from just light, such as conserving energy as food supplies were perhaps limited, keeping warm etc. Of course, this is no longer how we live as we have the ability to put more active hours into our days, have a plentiful supply of food and warmth at the touch of a button. Thankfully, because of our modern way of life, many people love the winter and feel no less energetic at this time than at any other time. For others, however, the winter months can have a real impact on their sense of well-being.
So how can we optimize our energy through the winter?
Resting – get plenty of sleep, enjoy early nights and try to get a lie in on weekends.
Conserving energy – try to reduce stress as it greatly depletes energy. There are many things we can do to cope with stress in ways that support the conservation of our energy like yoga, meditation and walking. Winter is not the time of year to be doing exercise that makes you sweat – there’s the rest of the year for that!
Building energy – eating seasonal foods such as root vegetables, seeds, nuts and dried fruit. Ideal dishes are slow cooked, warming foods such as soups and casseroles. Avoid too many raw, cold foods such as salads during the winter, and also avoid iced drinks.
Reflection – winter is an ideal time for inward reflection, to consider what we want out of our lives, how we hope achieve these goals and for making plans for the year ahead. Spring is just around the corner and this is the time for energy expenditure as we implement our plans!
There are a few weeks of winter left so go with the energetic flow, get some rest, eat hearty, warming foods and don’t feel guilty as you pull the duvet back over your head and enjoy your weekend lie in! It’s only natural.