Winter is the season when everything is hiding. The grass and trees are withered and many animals are hibernating. And the Yang Qi is hidden inside our body. Therefore, health care in winter should also be “inside our body”. When the Yang Qi is inside of our body, the metabolism is slow. So, we need the original force -“Kidney” – to help our body adapt to the change of nature. During the winter season, if the kidneys function normally, they will help our body adjust well to the winter. Otherwise, we will have maladjustment of our metabolism that will result in the creation of the diseases. So, health care in winter needs to “protect the kidney and prevent the cold”. Below are some things we can do during wintertime based on this important principle.
- Spirit care
In addition to paying attention to quietness on the mental level, we also need to change any negative moods we feel inside of our bodies. When we feel nervous, excited, anxious, depressed, etc, we should try to stabilize our mind. Also, we need to prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD) that can happen in winter. With SAD, people feel depressed and lethargic. And this happens every year. This can be found easily among young people especially young women. The way to prevent SAD is to get more sunshine on the body during the day.
- Diet care
During the winter, the diet should be based on the principle of “hiding the heat.” So, the suggested foods are: lamb, chicken, duck, goose, carrot, walnut, chestnut, sweet potatoes, and so on. At the same time, we should follow the principle of “eat less salt, eat more bitter” which can nourish the kidney and the heart. Also, we should try not to eat any raw and cold food.
- Routine care
Especially during wintertime, we should get enough sleep. So we need to go to bed early and get up late (especially for elderly people). There are some other things to which we need to pay special attention (listed below):
First, we need to pay attention to “the climate of the clothes.” The temperature between the skin and clothes inner layer should be 32C-33C (68-70F). This ideal “climate of the clothes” can buffer the cold weather’s attack to our bodies.
Second, we need to pay attention to the warmness of the feet. Because the feet are the furthest part of the body from the heart, the blood supply is little and slow. So the skin of the feet is the lowest. Chinese medicine believes that when the feet are cold, that coldness will influence the internal organs which can lead to diarrhea, irregular menses, impotence, lumbosacral pain and so on.
Third, we need to open the windows regularly to exchange the air.
Fourth, cover the head while sleeping is not advisable. Covering the head while sleeping will lead to a lack of oxygen, which can result in chest distress and short breath.
Fifth, do not hold urine during the night. Because the winter night is longer, holding urine will gather toxins and leads to cystitis, urethritis, and so on.
- Exercise care
There is a Chinese saying:
“Move a little during winter, have one less illness;
Be lazy a little during winter, have one more bowl of medicine.”
Some middle and old age people should do aerobic exercise everyday, evenly and slowly.
May every Tai Chi fan have a happy, healthy, and long life!