As Autumn gives way to Winter’s chilly darkness we should feel an urge to slow down. Winter is a time of reflection and introspection, a time to rest and conserve your Qi, rebuilding our strength for Spring’s rapid burst of new life.

Classically, the Chinese (and other cultures) believed that we should live in harmony with the seasons. This was more out necessity in ages where human’s lives were dominated by the elements—simply catching a cold could be life threatening. Today, those of us living in the industrialized world suffer little from the extremes of nature yet learning to harmonize with each season can make a huge impact on our health and well-being.
The Five Element Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) carefully observed the natural phenomenon and flow of the seasons. Each season was assigned an element, organ system, quality, sound, taste and emotion (to name a few categories). These correlations became guidelines for everything from when to go war to identifying disease patterns in the physical body.
Winter is ruled by the Water element, which is associated with the kidneys, bladder and adrenal glands. In TCM, the kidneys the source of and store all energy or “Qi” within the body. These store houses of qi are dipped into to heal, prevent illness, and age gracefully. If we lead lifestyles that overly deplete the stores, the body depletes and withers.

During the winter months it is important to nurture and nourish our kidney Qi. It is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted. Our bodies are instinctively expressing the fundamental principles of winter – rest, reflection, conservation and storage.

Many of us find ourselves increasing busy during winter. Holidays and parties can place stressful, many people battle with depression during the colder months. The current economic situation plays a role, as many people fear for savings and reserves—a characteristic of the water element.
Below are a few simple tips to help you embrace the winter season. By recognizing the potential value within each seasonal element we can move through our lives with greater ease.

• Nourish yourself-- Eating warm hearty soups, root vegetables, winter squash, whole grains, and roasted nuts help to warm the body’s core.
• Rest appropriately--Sleep early, rest well, stay warm, and expend a minimum quantity of energy.
• Get moderate exercise—Movement helps lift the spirits. Keeping with the energy of the season. If you don’t exercise much, bundle up and go for a walk. If you exercise excessively, slow down a little to conserve your qi.
• Brighten your space—whether or not you celebrate the holidays, refresh your home or workspace with cheerful colors or seasonal décor. Hollies bright berries, pine’s uplifting scent and a few splashes of red will add can add warmth to your home and enliven your spirit.

copywrite 2009--April Crowell

Author's Bio: 

April Crowell has been practicing and teaching holistic health and Traditional Chinese medicine for more than 15 years.
Ms. Crowell is a nationally certified instructor of Asian Bodywork Therapy (AOBTA), Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and Diplomate in Asian Bodywork Therapy. She currently serves as the Provost and lead instructor at The Wellspring School For Healing Arts and private therapy at Pulse Holistic Health, LLC.
Ms. Crowell live in Boise, Idaho.