The Meaning of Winter
Winter is all about rest and regeneration. It’s a time of dormancy and hibernation. Many animals retreat for the winter for their hibernation. Lots of insects die during the cold times of winter. The same happens with plants. Some die, leaving behind their seeds that plant themselves in the earth, waiting for the warmer growth time of spring. Other plants simply stop growing until Spring. For we humans, the shorter and colder days lead us to do the same – hibernate, become dormant, go within. Yet, often, we don’t.
Winter in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
The word winter is derived from the old Germanic word, meaning ‘time of water’. And in TCM, the season of winter is associated with the element of water. I love how often there are crossovers between TCM and other ancient cultures and beliefs!
The 5 Elements of TCM teaches us to live in alignment with the seasons (summer is divided into two seasons). When we live in alignment or harmony with nature, we thrive, just like the plants and animals do. When we don’t, we don’t!
Back in the days before industrialisation, we rose with the sun. We slept when it was dark. We ate seasonally and locally. And we lived as part of the circle of life. Now, we have artificial lighting, heating, storage and food. While I certainly wouldn’t give away my heater in winter, we need to understand that interference with this circle of life sometimes has unintended consequences. Your body will show you signs of stress and imbalance in a variety of ways!
Which brings me to my role as a kinesiologist – my job is to interpret what your body is telling you, and help you to bring everything back into balance for you by removing stress. When everything is in balance, there is no stress.
Signs of imbalance or stress in the Water Element
- Fearful behaviour
- Issues with the hamstrings, achilles, ankles and knees
- Hearing issues, including listening
- Soft tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Feeling wired
- Any issues with the kidneys or bladder (the water organs)
- Issues with bones, growth and development
- Fertility concerns or infertility
- Inability to complete tasks
- Inability to express how we feel
- Thyroid conditions
- Running away from stressful situations
- Controlling your environment
As you can see, imbalances and stress cause a variety of issues, on a physical, emotional, mental and spiritual level.
Do any of these sound familiar?
Winter, TCM and the Yin energy
Winter is the most Yin time of the year. Yin energy is the feminine, still, internal, dark, nourishment energy. This is where TCM and the seasons align so beautifully – the need for rest and renewal in winter is exactly what we need to nourish our Yin.
Yin is somewhat seen as the things in our body – the organs, the muscles, the blood. Yang is more seen as the function of the things. A good balance between the two is needed to have good health and wellness. There’s no point in having things (Yin) if they don’t function (Yang). And function (Yang) is useless without things (Yin)!
Signs of stress in Yin energy:
- Feeling hot at night (including in menopause)
- Feeling restless and busy, without really achieving very much
- Dry skin, nails and hair
- Very light menstruation (scanty periods)
- Nightmares and vivid dreams
- Excess thirst not related to diabetes
Your kidneys are the most Yin organs in the body, as well as being related to Yang energy. In TCM, it’s really important to nourish your Yin and your kidneys, as they are believed to determine the length and quality of your life. Winter is the perfect time to nourish your kidneys and your Yin energy!
Ways to nourish your Yin energy and your Water element
- Sleep between 10pm – 6am
- Drinking adequate water
- Get out in nature daily
- Practice stillness of the body and mind – meditation is fabulous for this
- Staying at home in the night hours
- Yin building activities such as yoga or qi gong
- Reducing activities and habits that deplete you
Foods to nourish your Yin energy and your Water element
- Bone broth
- Warming herbs and spices – cinnamon, garlic, ginger,
- Winter greens
- Black foods – black beans are a great example
- Warm foods
- Root vegetables, cabbage, mushrooms, apples, pears, squash, cabbage – fruits and vegetables that naturally grow in winter months
- Small amounts of unrefined salt such as Himalayan pink salt, or sea salts
- Slow cooked foods such as stews
- Warming herbal teas
- Warm water
It’s important to be aware that just eating the right foods, often referred to as nourishing your gut, is not enough if your habits and behaviours don’t support a healthy lifestyle. It’s equally as important for you to nourish your soul, nourish your mind as it is to nourish your gut.
I recommend to my clients in every consultation that they change behaviours as much as they change their foods. You can put good quality petrol in a car, but if you don’t look after the car itself, it will still break down even if it has enough petrol, and the right petrol!
Products that can support healthy change during Winter
I have a range of products that can help you making beneficial changes to nourish your Yin energy and Water element
Tranquil Essential Oil Blend – diffuse or use on my diffuser bracelets, car diffusers and aromatherapy necklaces. Fantastic for calming your nervous system, and supporting stillness in mind and body – click here to buy
Sweet Orange essential oil – supports the balance of yin and yang – click here to buy
May Chang essential oil – citrus based oils are fabulous for supporting Yin energy – click here to buy
Tranquil Room Spray – made from my Tranquil Blend, this room spray comes in two convenient sizes for you to use in any room to bring peace, calm and stillness. Have one in your room or office, and a hnady travel size to pop in your bag for calm on the go.
Sodalite crystal – for peace and soft, compassionate, nourishing energy. It is great for helping balanced expression of feelings – click here to buy
Rose Quartz – the stone of unconditional self love. It supports and boosts your vitality, while providing a loving warm energy – click here to buy
Amethyst – a calming and peaceful crystal to help with receptivity of new ideas and information. Great for supporting sleep – click here to buy
Consider an amethyst diffuser bracelet to support your Yin Energy
Balancing of Yin-Yang energy can be supported with a rhodonite, unakite or turquoise lace malachite diffuser bracelet
A Turquoise diffuser bracelet is supportive of your Water element due to its colour
If any of the signs and symptoms of imbalance sound like you, I recommend you have a look at your life and lifestyle in comparison to the key themes of winter. Make sure you look at both your behaviours and the food and drink that you are consuming. Then you can see what things may need some adjustment in your life.
Pick 3 things from the ways you can nourish your Yin, and 3 foods/drinks that you can include or include more of, and try both of these for a few weeks. Reevaluate how you feel, and what has changed for you.
If you feel like you need more support to make changes and bring your life and body back into balance, please feel free to book an appointment with me. You can choose from a face to face session in Western Sydney or Hills District, or you can choose an online kinesiology session from anywhere in Australia!
Try my suggestions above, and comment below about how you went with it