We have definitely entered the most crucial time of year '“ winter. Whether you live in tropical Hawaii or frosty Minnesota, the energy of winter is the same: storage. Conserve and preserve your resources and essence in winter; it is not a time for extravagance. At this time winter's cold drives your life fire deeply inward, collecting itself like a hibernating bear for the coming spring. This means winter is the time to retreat and go within to replenish your reserves. What you do now, or don't do (as rest implies), determines your health for the year ahead.
Thus, now is the time to protect your vital constitutional energy and metabolic fires. Doing so helps prevent winter's imbalances and keeps you well throughout the entire year.
Winter gives us cues to follow: the sun sets early and rises late. With less sunlight and colder weather we naturally stay inside more. Take advantage of this and stoke your inner furnace through less activity and good nutrition. Eat all cooked food, more protein and warming spices like ginger, garlic, cinnamon and cardamom. Be sure to still exercise, but choose less intense and exhausting workouts.
Whether you work late at night, frequently jog in the icy dark, or get caught in the holiday whirl, you withdraw energy from your constitutional trust fund when you most need replenishment. Drinking coffee to push through tiredness depletes the trust fund reserves even further, as does alcohol. Use grain drinks instead of coffee, and warming teas in place of alcohol.
In fact, those who exploited summer's fast pace and full activity may now experience exhaustion, tiredness, weakness, 'burn out,' night sweats, nocturnal dry mouth or restless sleep. The key to winter health is early to bed, late to rise, slow down and replenish your energy to make deposits into your trust fund. Use the extra quiet time to reflect, dream, share stories around the fire, stay warm and cozy, reflect, meditate, write in your journal and take naps. Include more protein in your diet (this also helps reduce sugar cravings). Continue at a slower pace throughout the year to follow, including summer, so that your trust fund is stronger next winter and you won't experience the same exhaustion.
Rest means to schedule fewer activities and to take breaks between them. It also means going to be early, sleeping in, and taking naps. Even at work most people can grab a short nap during a break and now is the time of year to do this.
Winter also provides us with the opportunity for inner reflection, assessing the past year and learning from our experiences. Exhaustion at this time is more harmful than during any other season, even though the consequences may not be felt until later in the year when the energy you expect to have isn't there.
For holiday preparations, make your lists and plans while lying down. You'll be amazed at how much you can actually get done this way and be more efficient, too. Be sure to eliminate all 'on-the-run' activities now as well, such as dashing out during lunch to get those last needed items while also eating lunch in the car.
By now this message should be strong and clear, rest, rest, rest! Interestingly, I started this last year with a blog on this theme. Now it's time to end this year doing the same!