It’s no secret, that I love summer. The ocean, sand between my toes, warm weather, the mountains and hiking foraging for herbs.
Nonetheless, the winter has a lot to offer our spirit as well. In Chinese medicine this is yin time. It is a time to go inward, reflect, rest, cultivate quiet and rejuvenate. This year especially, I think collectively people are struggling with the continued pandemic and social distancing. Here are some tips to cultivating the yin in winter months and thrive.
Take a walk, a winter hike, go skiing, snow shoeing or ice skating. Even if it’s only 15 or 20 minutes, the benefits will be felt. The fresh air and the movement will all benefit your body and well being, emotionally and physically.
If you are inside, using a Sun Lamp during the day will help with with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Studies show that indoor sun “happy lamps,” help with seasonal depression and lack of vitamin D during the winter months. Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms. Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy. With a 10,000-lux light box, light therapy typically involves daily sessions of about 20 to 30 minutes a day. Here is a Sun Lamp I recommend.
Vitamin D is essential during the winter months, especially with our focus on virus prevention.
Vitamin D is nicknamed the sunshine vitamin because your body produces it after sun exposure. It has long been known to help build strong bones by increasing the body's absorption of calcium and phosphorous.
Vitamin D has an immune modulating affect, thereby lowering the rate of respiratory infection and possibly affecting the cytokine storm. Observational studies coming from 3 South Asian hospitals have found lower levels of Vitamin D3 being linked to more severe cases of Covid-19.
Research has also shown that Vitamin D plays an essential role in regulating mood and preventing depression in winter months.
Nordic countries have long touted the idea of cultivating coziness. Norway and Sweden, have only 6 hours of sunlight during the winter months. I have found cultivating a coziness in our home is especially important during the winter months. Wood stove fires, simmering warming herbal teas, creating a cozy corner with warm blankets and a comfortable chair. Of course the continued quarantine is wearing on everyone, adults and children. At times the Covid saga seems endless, but cultivating some simple pleasures may help a great deal. Get creative and create a space in your home you can enjoy, read, draw, meditate or spend quite reflective time.
Warming Herbal Teas
One of my favorite parts of winter is warming herbal teas. There is an endless variety you can be creative with to find a combination that is not only nourishing, but comforting.
Here are a few blends I love during the winter months.
2 parts Cardamom
1 part Rose
2 parts Black tea
1 part Goji berries
2 parts Fenugreek
1 part Cinnamon
1 part Cardamom
1 part Chaga
1 part Ginger
1 part Nutmeg
Essential oils have the amazing ability to lift the spirts and transport us to another place.
Using essential oils in a diffuser during winter months can not only help with seasonal depression but can help with sleep, clarity and focus, positive outlook. A few of my favorite oils for this are Juniper Berry, Bergamot & Geranium.
Juniper Berry is a coniferous tree in the cypress family, which grows throughout North America and is native to Bulgaria. The oil is ideal for diffusing because it is calming and grounding.
Bergamot is one of the best essential oil pairings for Juniper Berry, and will enhance the benefits of this aromatic fusion by providing a calming and uplifting effect. Together, this blend will enhance positive feelings and create a calming atmosphere.
The participants were able to reduce sleep medication when also using a diffusion blend of these oils. . The smell of juniper berries has been known to offer emotional support and reduce stress. Juniper oil is a powerful oil for reducing stress when inhaled.
Juniper is also an antiseptic herb and can be added to a carrier oil such as coconut oil and applied to the skin which will help combat dry, itchy, flaky skin which is very common in the winter months.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease and for educational purposes only.