We’ve all felt it. The deep need to lay low, stay cozy and rest when the temperature drops. The urge to hibernate. In TCM, Winter is the time to take a pause, reflect inward and regenerate energy for the coming Spring. Your kidneys and bladder are the stars of this season, they are the source of your most basic and fundamental energy, your Jing. Kidneys are the Yin organ while your Urinary Bladder is the Yang. They play a huge role in fluid regulation. With each new season comes it’s corresponding element, for winter this means water. Meaning when your energy isn’t flowing optimally, you will really feel it. The deep watery depths of winter help us replenish what we have put out that year. Water brings all the elements back around, and emphasises this time for self reflection.
So, what can you do to bring TCM into your life this Winter?
To start, you can take a look in your kitchen. So much of our health begins with the food we put into our bodies. It’s found best to avoid cold, raw foods and to instead focus on warming foods that will help generate energy, rather than deplete it. Eating cold foods in cold seasons means your body will be working extra hard to generate warmth. A good place to start is with using seasonal foods, things that naturally are harvested or used during the Winter.
Some of our favourites include:
-Black or Kidney Beans
-Dark leafy greens
You can create a multitude of delicious meals using local, seasonal foods, such as hearty soups, roasted vegetables, golden mylk and so much more. It’s best to avoid excessive salt, while consuming warm water and teas throughout the day.
Here’s an easy bone broth recipe to help get you through these colder months.
- 3 pounds bones (chicken, beef, pork, lamb etc.)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup white wine
- 12 cups water
- 2 bay leafs
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- finely ground real salt
- Heat the oven to 400 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange the bones on the baking sheet, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Next, roast them for 30 minutes, or until slightly brown. Turn half-way through to promote even cooking.
- Using a pair of kitchen tongs, transfer the bones to a heavy stock pot. Pour in the wine and water. Drop in the bay leaves and peppercorns.
- Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, and then immediately turn the heat down to low. Simmer, uncovered, at least 8 hours and up to 16 hours. Skim any foam that appears at the surface of the broth.
- Strain the broth, and season it with fine sea salt as you like it. Serve immediately, or pour into jars to store in the fridge for up to 1 week and in the freezer up to 6 months.
For you + your home
Take a deep breath. It’s okay to rest.
Winter is the time for inward energy, for self care and reflection. The quietness is welcoming to our strung out senses. We are now at the beginning of a new cycle, getting ready to blossom into spring. It can be hard to let go of our work stress and overstimulation in exchange for quiet inward reflection. Our nervous systems are overwhelmed and ready to slow things down. Some ways to help strengthen and grow your energy can be as simple as a nourishing oil hair mask and warm bath, or tuning in with meditation. Slow, stretching exercises pair well with winter, as it’s best to avoid too much strenuous activity. Just let your body move freely. Book that deep tissue massage you’ve been dreaming of and lean into relaxation. KI3 is one of the best winter acupressure points as its said to be the source point for the kidneys’ energetic system.
While our damp Island winters bring a little extra chill, try to stay warm, dry and cozy as much as possible. Dress for the season, including adding some extra layers and thick scarves to protect all areas of your body, but especially your shoulders and neck, from the cold. You can always take off layers if it gets too warm!
Remember, TCM is all about finding a balance in all aspects of your life. In Winter you should be focused on enriching yin and subduing yang. Making efforts to find just a little more balance with the elements in your body can go a long way towards better health and vitality.
Refer back to our Winter graphic for tips to keep yourself healthy in this fifth season.
Photos by Alessandra Vitozzi and The Collective Folk