TONIFY IN WINTER FOR THE COMING SPRING
The ancient Chinese divides each year into 24 terms based on observations of the sun’s annual motion. Each term reflects the changes in climate, natural phenomena, and agricultural production. Originally, the 24 terms were for guiding farmers on their agricultural practices, but Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also has a comprehensive and thorough understanding of this biological rhythm. TCM believes aligning one’s health and wellness habits with seasons is crucial to achieving the balance of yin and yang energy for better health.
Minor Cold and Major Cold, the 23rd and 24th solar terms of the 24 traditional Chinese solar terms mark the coldest days of the year. This year, Minor Cold starts on January 5, and Major Cold starts on January 20. The cold and the re-surging COVID-19 epidemic forced people to stay at home most of the time. Instead of complaining about things we cannot control, we can take advantage of this period of time to nurture our body and to save energy for the coming days.
Winter is a critical period to lay the foundation for our health in the coming year. In winter, the physiological functions of the human body are slowed down and depressed by the cold. It provides the perfect opportunity to keep the essential nutrients in the body longer for sufficient digestion and absorption. The saved nutrients help to build up immunity, protecting us against diseases in the coming spring.
The “3 Winter Treasures”
in the Wintertime
The “3 Winter Treasures” are cold in nature, so you’d better not eat too much of them, nor eat them raw. Cooking them in soup or porridge is recommended.
Winter melon, winter date and winter sugarcane are the “3 fundamental winter treasures.” Winter melon is rich in dietary fiber and effective in lowering blood glucose. Winter date is rich in vitamins, especially vitamin C, and is effective in building up immunity and preventing cold. Winter sugarcane replenishes blood, moistens the body in the dry season, refreshes the mind, clears body heat, and tonifies lungs and stomach.
Throughout the whole season, we should foster the yang energy (i.e., active, energetic, outward energy) to combat the coldness and store energy by taking tonic foods. The traditional warming foods include black soybean, black sesame, walnut, red date, longan, etc. Fresh ginger facilitates the fostering of yang energy, so it is a very good seasoning for cooking as well.
Nutrient intake should be done properly. Excessive tonification may go beyond the body’s capacity to absorb. Overeating will impose an extra burden on your body. The precondition for tonification is that the body can identify, digest and absorb what you eat, and convert it into what will benefit your health. But in most cases, the body cannot handle all that you force upon it.
Especially for those who are weak in digestion, you don’t have to stick to the dietary nutrition rules dogmatically by having everything on your plate for each meal. A healthy diet allows a dynamic equilibrium of nutrients. You may diversify your diets according to your own needs instead of the one-size-for-all standard.
Save Energy, Exercise Properly
How to live through the cold winter and save energy to stay strong and healthy for the coming spring?
First of all, try to stop overusing your strength and energy; for example, avoid staying up late, doing intense workouts, and overeating. All of them are overdrawing the yang energy, which protects you against the coldness in winter.
Workouts should go with the nature and seasons. Winter is the season for storing and hibernating, so intense activities are not suitable for it. Jogging, Tai Chi, shuttlecocking, eight trigrams boxing, rope skipping, skating, and skiing are recommended for the season.
Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes “living on a regular schedule to conserve energy, working smartly to store up energy.”
In winter, organizing life and work appropriately helps us maintain vigor and vitality. An old Chinese saying advises, “Do not walk too fast, do not exhaust your sight and hearing, do not sit or sleep too long.” Taking a nap at noon is recommended, but remember avoid catching a cold when falling asleep. Furthermore, we should try to get more exposure to sunlight in the daytime to foster the yang energy in our body.
Warming the Winter with Meditation
In the cold winter, we could still wake up the power of life and the momentum of growth. Even though a seed is shed in darkness, it is gathering strength silently to break through the crust and bathe in the warmth of sunny spring.
If you are trying to meditate and concentrate on mindfulness-based cognition, you may begin with some meditation apps. Find a quiet space, sit or lie down to make yourself feel comfortable, close your eyes, follow your heart to start a self-healing journey, and feel the harmony between human being and nature.
Through the simple exercise, your heart is freed from previous and future troubles. You will gain the strength and energy to live the current life well. We should accept and respect our body’s feelings, gradually relax in the exercise, get peace in our mind, and reach the stability and harmony of the body so as to study and work efficiently as well as live happily
China Moonshot Resources
- To view more January China Moonshot Content, you can visit the following links: Minor Cold and Major Cold.
- Customize The Wellness Moonshot: Contact Kendra Kobler (Kendra.Kobler@globalwellnessinstitute.org) for specific ways to tailor The Wellness Moonshot branding assets and educational materials to meet the needs and aspirations of your company, community or country.