The depth and cold of winter is upon us. This season offers us time to slow down, deeply nourish our Kidneys (an organ system associated with winter) and engage in ways to stay warm both internally and externally. Keeping cold out the body as temperatures drop is more than just a comfort; it also protects us from getting sick and can reduce pain and stiffness in the body.
In the past, winter was my most hated season because of the cold and the lack of sun. Over time (and with acupuncture) I have come to embrace the gifts of the season and be in awe of the beautiful snow dusts over the trees. I manage the cold by making lifestyle changes which have given me the giggling title of “cold weather expert” amongst the BAP family :)
I’ll start with the gear…
When looking for a suitable winter coat consider length (regular length, 3⁄4 length, or full length). How will you maneuver a full length coat getting in and out of cars? When walking up and down train steps or bus steps? Consider the material and thickness. Is that wool going to be enough for you or will you need a layer underneath when the temperatures drop below zero? Will you choose a down or synthetically filled coat? If you choose down, do the manufactures follow animal welfare standards? Pockets… are they large enough for your hands? Are they lined? What about the hood? Is it deep? Are there drawstrings for when the winds begin to whip?
When considering winter boots, go for warm, comfortable and waterproof.
Layering is another important aspect to consider. Wearing leggings under pants is a good start especially if you can spring for silk ones. A few other layering options to offer versatility are leg warmers, scarves and haramakis (belly/center warmers from Japanese culture). These items can be removed if your temperature gets too high, so to avoid overheating. Fleece lined jeans are great when temperatures drop below freezing. The head, neck, ankles and back are vulnerable areas where wind and cold enter the body; protect them so you don’t “catch a cold”. Avoid sitting on cold benches or steps which is another way cold enters the lower back, kidneys and uterus. And don’t walking around barefooted. If cold does seep in, taking a hot bath, using moxa or using a heating pad can help to disperse the cold. True warmth and strong defenses from cold comes from within. Build yourself up by consuming nutritious warm foods and drinks and rest more.
Some of my personal warm winter habits include:
Consuming fresh ginger tea regularly, and sometimes adding cloves and cinnamon
Slowly cooking foods..My crock pots gets heavy use during this time of year (Hearty soups and stews offer complete meals in one!)
Napping and sleeping more
Eating only warm food (Switch out salads for steamed/sautéed kale)
Including warm spices in cooking like crushed cardamom pods, ginger powder, cumin, coriander, fresh hot peppa sauce, garlic
Drinking plenty room temperature water or warmed up water (esp. first thing in the morning!)
Adding some meat in my diet (hormone free from reputable sources). This was a hard piece for me after being vegetarian for 10 yrs, however I found my energy improve and I am noticeably warmer in the winter
Including foods that nourish the Kidneys - Sea vegetables, beans (adzuki, black and kidney), bones, black sesame seeds and other dark foods, leafy green vegetables.
Wishing you a warm, cozy, restful winter season!