30 Days of Winter – day 14 – busting winter blues

Feeling down from the winter blues? You’re not alone.

In winter, the lack of sunshine rays makes some people more vulnerable to feelings of depression, flatness and even sadness. 

Lithium is a natural chemical that our bodies absorb through the skin which is present in rays of sunshine. Natural sunlight has the ability to wake us up with a rejuvenation or brightness to face the day. Often our work schedules are not conducive to this “waking up with the sun” routine either.

So how can we combat the “winter blues”? In Chinese medicine we recognise life has different seasons. While it’s not normal to sit around and sulk in winter, or just become a big slug on the couch, we needn’t have the same expectations of our life or body in winter that we do of summer or spring. Winter is a season of STORAGE and GATHERING of energy. Not as much expending or “doing” as we would in expect in the warmer seasons of spring and summer.

Foods which nourish the Yang Qi (Energy) include slow cooked meats. Nuts like walnuts and almonds can be roasted or toasted with honey to make warming and nourishing snacks. For Vegetarians, try lots of slow cooked root vegetables, more legumes which are combined with underground vegies.

 

For people with pre-existing stagnation conditions (your practitioner may have told you you have “stagnant energy”, “Liver energy (Qi) stagnation, blood stagnation/stasis),  you should continue to do some exercise – most importantly to keep your body moving, rather than do strenuous Gym or aerobic type exercises. Keep active in stretching and exercise which promotes only light or not much (not heavy) sweating. Winter is also good season to cultivate yoga, tai qi and qi gong practices. Your Chinese Medicine practitioner can advise you on more specific foods for your pattern of disharmony or body constitution.

Pungent warming spices are good to add to meats and vegetable dishes (curries and indian foods are perfect) for people prone to stagnation in winter. The warming spices promote movement and warmpth which is often welcomed by the body in the cold of winter.