5 Ways to Prep for a Healthier Winter

Dec 09, 2022
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5 Ways to Prep for a Healthier Winter

Autumn is gone and we're about to have another wardrobe change. Bring out your thickest sets of clothes because we are again entering the season of winter. This might be the least favorite season by New Yorkers because of multiple reasons. Part of those reasons might be due to the health concerns imposed by the season's slow, frigid days.In traditional Chinese medicine, winter is represented by the element of water and is considered the most yin season. Yin is best described as what we usually describe winter: dark, cold, slow, and reserved.  We should take this opportunity to be more mindful of our health, self-reflect, and value rest. What are the best ways to keep your body and mind in tip-top condition during this freezing time?


1) Seasonal food and drinks

Water is the element for winter and the organs of water are the kidneys and the urinary bladder. For the winter season, it is best to consume foods associated with a salty and bitter taste because those are the flavors that also represent the said organs.  It is also good to consume root crops since they are in season. Focus on making and eating warm dishes like stews and bone broths to promote warmth and energy conservation. Although it is encouraged to take salty foods, moderation should still be observed. Choose salty foods that are fresh and organic like fish, nuts, and beans. Do not forget to drink plenty of fluids as well. This will help the kidneys function better. Same with the recommendation for foods, drink warm fluids like tea. Avoid dairy and iced beverages. 


2) Prepare for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Winter brings the feeling of isolation and for some, hopelessness. Many people living in places like New York tend to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder due to the lack of sunlight, stress, and extremely cold days. Not all of us can drop everything and go somewhere warm like the beach during this time. If you are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder or experiencing the same symptoms of SAD, you might want to consider light therapy. Exposure to bright light for at least 30 minutes can improve your mood. Before purchasing one, check if the light does replicate the tone of natural daylight and avoid those that emit harmful UV that may cause skin and eye concerns.


3) Herbal supplements

Flu and colds are common during the winter. Focus on strengthening your immune system by taking herbs. You may take it in pill form or for additional warmth, take herbs in the form of tea. For those suffering from arthritis, topical herbal ointments can alleviate the pain and inflammation. You may also consider taking herbal supplements if you want to relieve stress and anxiety since it is common during this season due to the lack of sunlight and the Christmas rush that's about to happen soon. 


4) Prioritize activities for the body and the mind

The gloomy sky dampens the mood and makes us feel lethargic. Although it is recommended to reserve your energy and rest during this season, it is still important to move to avoid muscle weakness and joint aches. Combat those by exercising. Movement warms the body and the right amount of workout can also boost the serotonin in the brain. Qi Rong and Tai Chi work well for both body and mind because they both have the attribute of mindful movements. It's up to you what kind of exercise you prefer as long as you do it safely and regularly. Winter is also the time to look back and review the year. Be honest with yourself without disregarding kindness. Take time to sit down and think about this year. Write down the blessings, the hardships, your wins, and losses -- write anything you want and see the things you should be thankful for and the things you should put the effort into improving. This is a way to pat yourself on the back for a job well done and to prepare yourself to face the next year on a more positive note. Lastly, spend time reconnecting with the people you love. Have a coffee date with friends or contact your parents and siblings. Solitude may be comforting, but maintaining a good relationship with the people you care for is a good way to keep your mental balance.


5) Schedule acupuncture appointments

It doesn't hurt to take extra steps to have a healthier winter, right? Acupuncture treatments can give you that extra boost of immunity from colds and flu. Specific acupuncture points can also improve blood circulation to keep you warm and push out the dampness. The cold can trigger joint pains as well.  Regular acupuncture treatments can decrease the flares with additional help from moxibustion and CBD rollers. Having more sessions during the winter is advisable to keep your body tuned. You may also want to consider acupuncture to help you with your stress and anxiety. Taking yourself to acupuncture appointments is a form of self-care! Book an appointment with NYC Acupuncture + Wellness to experience the oriental approach to health.