Winter is here, and winter wellness is top of mind! We associate the season with Kidney energy according to East Asian medicine. The Kidney stores the body’s foundational, reserve energy – so it’s especially crucial to nourish and restore at this time of year.
One of the ancient texts of East Asian medicine, the Nei Jing, states: It is the concentrated internal force of winter that enables a seed to burst forth in spring growth. This line perfectly illustrates just how important it is to take care of yourself this season! Below, we share our optimal winter wellness tips, so that you can set yourself up for optimal health in the coming year.
1. Keep warm
First and foremost, it’s important to keep yourself warm during the winter months. Winter corresponds with Kidney and Bladder in East Asian medicine, so you want to focus especially on the areas of those meridians – the neck, back, and feet. Avoid extended periods of time in the cold, which can deplete Kidney energy, and cause stagnation leading to aches and pains. If you do feel yourself getting chilled, drink warm tea or consider a warm bath or shower to get your circulation going.
2. Eat warm food
Break out the soup, stew and braising recipes! Food that is cooked for long periods of time are especially nourishing for the Kidney reserves during the winter. According to East Asian nutritional theory, specific foods that support Kidney energy are salty and dark foods, including:
seaweed, shellfish, nuts, black / kidney beans, root veggies, whole grains, dark berries, and bone broth. Warming spices, such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and garlic, are also ideal for winter wellness. Avoid raw and cold food as much as you can during wintertime – salads and smoothies are best left for warmer times of year.
3. Time for self-care and reflection
The internal, dark, yin nature of this time of year presents us with the opportunity for reflection and self-care. Using meditation, journalling, yoga, etc., to process the emotions and experiences of the year sets us up well for a fresh start come spring.
4. Balance rest and activity
We also seek out yang energy – in the form of celebration and light – to counterbalance the peak yin energy of the winter. Striking this balance, without exhausting or overextending yourself, can help nourish your Kidney energy as well.