Make time to support yourself this winter
In Chinese medicine, winter is a time to go deep within and nourish and restore yourself. The days are shorter, and we are advised to wake up later, go to bed earlier, and rest more. Outside, much of nature goes into what appears to be a state of dormancy. On the surface, branches are bare and still. But deep inside, life is quietly active and gently restoring itself.
Now is a perfect time to give yourself permission to rest and heal. It’s a great time to be introspective as we welcome the new year and new possibilities. What can you nurture that you want to cultivate in the coming year? Try to be still and listen if you need guidance. Sometimes the answer will come in an unexpected and delightful way.
Alignment with the seasons and phases
People are often fascinated to hear about how their organs are associated with the different seasons and how this relates to symptoms they experience in their bodies.
In Chinese Medicine, there are five phases of transformation: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. While in Traditional Chinese Medicine these are called elements, Classical Chinese Medicine refers to them as phases because they develop and change into one another. The five phases or elements correspond to the seasons spring, summer, fall, and winter. Chinese medicine further divides summer into two parts: summer and late summer. Late summer refers to the transformation between the warmer summer weather and cool fall weather. The seasons and phases (or elements) are associated as follows:
- Spring: Wood. This is when nature starts stirring from winter’s dormancy. Trees and plants blossom. New branches grow out of old wood, and new growth begins.
- Summer: Fire. This is the time of warmth and activity. Nature is moving actively, and as a result is growing and flourishing.
- Late summer: Earth. This is the time of harvest. It is also is the pause between the rising of the warming and active phases of wood and fire and the declining and cooler phases of fall and winter.
- Fall: Metal. This is when nature releases what is no longer needed. Leaves fall from the trees. The compost from dead leaves enriches the soil so it can prepare for the next cycle of growth in the spring.
- Winter: Water. This is a time of rest. Animals hibernate, the days are shorter, and nature gets still and goes within to build up reserves.
How the winter season influences the kidneys and bladder
As I shared earlier, Chinese medicine associates the kidneys and bladder with the water element and winter. The water element governs the bones, teeth, ears, reproductive organs, and hair on the head. This is a time of year when people may experience issues with bones, joints, or teeth, fertility issues, urinary tract problems, hair falling out or graying of the hair, or hearing issues. All of these conditions indicate an imbalance in the water element on the physical level. Fears, phobias or lack of will power indicate an imbalance on the mental and emotional level.
One way to support yourself this winter is to practice the art of yangsheng. Yangsheng is the ancient Chinese art of nourishing life. It is a practice of self-cultivation or self-care. In the Chinese culture, yangsheng is crucial to overall health and longevity. You can read all about how to practice yangsheng in my blog “Learn the ancient Chinese art of yangsheng – nourishing life“.
You might also consider practicing the relaxation response. Dr Herbert Benson, a pioneer in mind / body medicine, created the relaxation response term and practice. The relaxation response counters the fight-or-flight stress response. It works by slowing down the rate of breathing, reducing blood pressure, and relaxing muscles. It is a great way to nurture yourself this winter. Learn how to practice in my blog “Healing yourself with the relaxation response“.
A very luxurious feeling, and surprisingly inexpensive, option to nourish yourself is with hydrosols. Hydrosols are aromatic floral waters. They nourish your skin by delivering a fine mist of therapeutic plant essence to your skin. You can read all about hydrosols in my blog Nourish your skin with hydrosols.
Consider Chinese medicine to help support yourself this winter
One of the reasons that acupuncture treatments are effective is because they trigger the relaxation response. Additionally, they take a customized approach to helping people feel better. Every individual is unique, and no two people will experience the same symptoms for exactly the same reason. When I see a new patient, I make the time to ask a lot of questions and review their health history. This allows me to determine what is going on with their energy. For example, it is important to know whether a patient’s energy is getting stuck or is deficient. I develop a customized treatment to address their specific needs and restore the balance of energy. This might involve acupuncture needles, ear seeds, qigong exercises, and diet and lifestyle advice.
Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you support yourself this winter? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-4269.
About the Author
Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca.
About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC
HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.