How to Stay Healthy in Winter

December 15, 2015 Trisha Han Oriental Herbal MedicineSelf-Help TopicsWellness & Prevention

Just like how millions of cells make up one organism, human beings are the tiny cells that make up the universe.  We must abide by the changes of nature, instead of going against it; we must interact with the millions of organisms in the world, instead of solely paying attention to our own needs.  As long as we do this, borrowing upon the strength of nature to cure our diseases, we will naturally be healthy.

In ancient times, living conditions were relatively poor compared to today’s; it was impossible to control the temperature of the environment, so the only way to avoid the effects of the cold was to rely on the energy of the sun, meanwhile reducing the body’s use of energy—this was done by going to sleep as soon as the sun set, and waking up as soon as the sun rose at dawn.  This kind of lifestyle habit, if put in the context of today’s society, would not be well accepted, because people must wake up early to go to work, then come home from work very late at night; then, they may watch T.V., or go online—and, depending on where you live, there may be an abundance of nighttime activities.  This is the popular lifestyle of today’s society, and no one wants, or feels the need, to change it.

However, the lifestyle of those who lived in the ancient times is indeed the most precious lesson we can learn from them, because it was not only a convenience, it also preserved their health and led them on a path to longevity.

Because in the winter, the sun sets early and rises late, we should also sleep early and rise late—this will help us “escape” the winter’s cold.  We must seek more exposure to the sun during the winter—this will help “dispel” the winter’s cold.  Also, we should stay in warm areas and avoid cold areas—this will “expel” the winter’s cold.  Lastly, we must not expose our skin to the cold—this will “resist” the cold.  The above four methods may be common sense, but they are key to helping us prevent sickness during the wintertime, according to “Emperor Huang’s Internal Medicine”.

To prevent sickness during the wintertime is not that difficult, given our modern living conditions.  However, there are some additional methods that will help dispel the cold that may accidentally enter your body.

There are many women who, in the wintertime, will dress warmly with layers on top, but only wear a thin dress on the bottom.  Although this may look immaculate and professional, it will also bring endless amounts of harm to one’s body.  An old Chinese proverb says: “Wind comes into the body through one’s neck; the cold comes into the body through one’s legs”.  Although the blood circulating through our body is always warm, many people have poor circulation in their legs because the heat in their legs is not being protected by clothing.  So in the wintertime, remember to keep your legs and feet warm by wearing warm socks, shoes and pants.

Once winter comes, some people feel that their feet and legs are never warm, even when layering on thick blankets or wearing socks.  This is because of poor circulation, and can be easily remedied by doing the “Walking on Your Knees” exercise, or the “Standing on One Leg” exercise.  These two exercises were both described in earlier blog articles.  Another solution is to soak your feet in warm saltwater every night—this will not only improve circulation, but is also beneficial towards healing and preventing frostbite.  Also, it’s very good for circulation to take walks during the wintertime; you don’t necessarily have to walk very fast, just make sure not to shuffle, instead picking your foot up off the ground each time you take a step.  This is not only good for circulation, but also for the muscles in your legs, which are likely to stiffen in the cold winter weather.  Moreover, walking can help strengthen the functions of the liver and spleen.

During the winter, it is also important to eat the right foods.  For those who easily get cold, foods and spices such as shrimp, ginger, garlic, pepper and curry are good because of their warm nature.   However, don’t eat too much meat—if you love to eat meat, remember to eat some hawthorn tablets to help with digestion.   Taking Liu Wei Di Huang teapills is also a good idea to balance out the body’s Yin and Yang.

If you are a completely healthy person, but still want to reinforce your health during the winter, you should use moxa on the Guan Yuan point beneath the belly button, and on the Zu San Li point of the Stomach Meridian, once every day for 15 minutes each.  It is said that this is one of the secrets to longevity of many centenarians.

 


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