Hello midwinter! The cold well and truly arrived here in Dorset, and we had snow! I hope you’re managing to keep warm and have found moments of calm at what can be a busy time of year.
Winter Solstice is today, the 21st of December, it marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It’s officially the beginning of Winter and has been celebrated for centuries as a turning point, a return to the light!
It also marks the transition into the Chinese five elements Water element.
The Water Element is one of the five natural elements that exist within us, as they do in nature. Each season belongs to a particular element and has unique correspondences. We can learn how to support our own health by looking at nature’s patterns and cycles.
The energy of winter is deep, and there can be feelings of withdrawal as our qi flows more deeply inside us. The depth of the season can invite us to connect with our inner self and untouched emotions, it’s a great time for practices like meditation and journaling. Spend time actively relaxing – reading, walking, spending time with friends and generally slowing down. This nourishing Yin time gives us the chance to store and build our energy for Springtime, just like the seed that waits in the ground!
For some people the energy of the season can contribute to feelings of depression or loneliness, others may feel relief for the opportunity to be still and go within.
Ways that we can explore the Water element.
Wrap up and go for walks in the country. Notice how the season makes you feel. Try to connect with the deepest part of you, your essence, what does it say to you?
Be mindful of how busy you are, and notice your energy levels. This is the perfect time to slow down and conserve energy. Aim to go to bed earlier and rise with the sun (which is later in winter)
Explore the emotion fear, in yourself and the people around you. Notice what your fears are, are they an appropriate response that you can move through or does it feel extreme or stuck?
Take some time to reflect on your last 12 months. Where have you been, what have you learned, what worked well or didn’t work well, are you where you hoped you would be? Think about how you’d like to feel in 2023, and how you can move towards that.
Winters associations in Chinese medicine theory.
Element-Water. Yin organ-Kidneys. Yang organ-Urinary Bladder. Emotion-Fear. Climate-Cold. Colour-Black/Dark Blue. Taste-Salty. Sense organs-Ears. Virtues-Strength, Courage, Wisdom.
Nutritional therapy for winter health
We can support our body during the winter months by following some simple tips.
Add lots of garlic, onions, ginger and spices like turmeric to your cooking. Onions and garlic are part of the Allium family (as are chives, leeks and shallots) they contain compounds that have antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties. They are also great for gut health and known for their anti-inflammatory and immune boosting effects.
Eat multiple servings of fruits and veggies that are high in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and phytonutrients that support immune health. Think green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage, kale), root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, squashes, carrots, turnips, beets and citrus foods. Limit cold and raw foods at this time of year as these can weaken ‘digestive fire’.
Support all systems of the body by staying hydrated! If you’re not a big fan of cold water in winter, add some hot water from the kettle and a squeeze of lemon or lime to make it more inviting. Include herbal teas and thin, fresh soups or broths.
The following supplements can be helpful at this time of year:
Vitamin D keep levels up to support healthy immune function. Otherwise known as the sunshine vitamin, it’s synthesized in the body when we come into contact with sunlight. Increase absorption by exposing face and arms for 10 – 20 minutes daily. Through the winter months we can top up by taking a high grade supplement such as D3 (more active form)
Zinc is responsible for immune cell function, wound healing and anti inflammatory response. Deficiency can lead to weakened immune response. It can be beneficial to take a short course over the winter period.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that we need to replenish daily. When we increase our intake it can help strengthen our body’s natural defence system and reduce inflammation.
One of my favourite additions to boost vitality is Potassium broth. Potassium is an essential electrolyte that we need in abundance, this mineral broth is anti-inflammatory, a source of antioxidants and great for gut health and blood pressure. Perfect for when we’re feeling depleted, during illness or a mid week ‘pick me up’.
Try making a batch each week. (see recipe page in blog section)
How can reflexology help me?
Reflexology is one way that we can reduce stress, people often find relief from anxiety, tension and insomnia. Treatments can also help with musculoskeletal pain, hormonal and digestive imbalances.
The nervous system as a whole responds to stimulus, and by applying pressure to specific reflex points on the feet, a calming message to peripheral nerves is carried through the central nervous system allowing the body to relax. This relaxation increases blood flow to the body and it’s organs and systems, which allows movement toward homeostasis and optimal functioning.
Reflexology treatments will also focus specifically on boosting qi (vital energy)
Rest is the theme of the season, and your time in the treatment room will induce deep relaxation and guarantee you that time for yourself.