Winter is the most Yin time of the year according to Chinese Medicine theory. Yin energy is grounding, quiescent, and inward as opposed to the outward, dynamic, and expanding energy of Yang. Winter is also associated with the water element and related to the Kidney organ.
冬藏 (dōng cáng) means "storing in winter." Chinese medicine advocates protecting Qi during the Yin season, particularly Kidney Qi, as it is the source of prenatal or primordial Qi. When the body is feeling spent, the Kidney works like an energy reserve to supply Qi to the rest of the organs. It's easy to feel exhausted and overwhelmed with all the festivities, parties, and travels when we should be slowing down and resting more during this time of the year. Embrace JOMO — joy of missing out.
If you are feeling spent and anxious, here are 5 winter wellness TCM tips to help preserve Qi and keep the body in a state of balance this season.
1. Get your beauty sleep.
While we're not suggesting that you go into deep winter hibernation mode, it’s imperative to get enough sleep. Skimping on sleep leads to dark circles, wrinkles, and a lifeless complexion. Your body goes into repair mode while you are in deep restful state. During sleep your body increases blood flow and rebalances hydration back to your skin. Which means when you get enough sleep, your complexion will be plump and glowing. Check out sleep evangelist Arianna Huffington's sleep tips for how to cultivate a better sleeping environment.
2. Give your skin a drink, inside and out.
Indoor heat and dry winter air rob precious moisture from the skin. Mist liberally with a botanical essence before applying serums and oils to help boost hydration to thirsty complexions. To support internal hydration, sip on an easy tonic Eight Treasure Tea or add ultra-nourishing Tremella Mushroom Dessert to your meals.
3. Give your feet some love.
One of the best winter self-care activities is a foot bath followed by a foot massage. All 6 principle meridians run through our feet with over 70 acupuncture points. To indulge in the ritual, boil your herb of choice (our favorite is mugwort or ginger) for 10 minutes, pour into a foot soaking tub or bucket with warm water to dilute the temperature, and soak for 20 minutes.
After you're done with soaking, follow up with a quick foot rub. Focus on the acupuncture point Kidney 1 (涌泉 - Yongquan or “Gushing Spring”) which stimulates a key point on the Kidney channel. It might feel sore in a good way. Massaging a few minutes on this point helps relieve stress, anxiety, and exhaustion.
4. Feed your skin and soul.
Incorporate good, healthy fats in your diet. Try coconut oil the next time you make carrot ginger soup. We are currently obsessed with pomegranates, satsuma tangerines, and butternut squash. Winter is the time to load up on root vegetables, nutrient dense squashes, dark leafy greens, and citrus when they taste their best. Your skin will thank you! Roasted brussel sprouts and butternut squash with ghee is super delicious, satisfying, and great for the skin. Need more winter produce inspiration? Check out this guide. Do be mindful about what you drink as well; instead of a second kir royale at the holiday party, opt for a pomegranate juice + sparkling water instead.
5. Quiet the mind.
Winter season is nature’s way of slowing down and being quiet. The ancient world viewed wintertime as the season to go inward, rest, and be reflective; a sharp contrast to our modern world of revved-up social calendars, busy shopping expeditions, sleep deprived schedules, and celebratory parties. Stress wrecks havoc on your skin. Regular meditation leads to better sleep, boosted immune system, and improved moods. Schedule some daily quiet time for yourself, because glowing "Shen" (aka spirits) will lead to glowing skin. Try out this gua sha ritual to help ground your energy, improve your mood, and provides mental clarity. While you're at it, enjoy a deeply hydrating mask for a boost of radiance and self-care.
We put together this playlist to help you unwind, rest, and quiet the mind. Enjoy it while you're cozying up with a cup of tea, taking a bath, or journaling self-reflection.