Winter is coming… How we support our immune systems
Locking up at home, researching for vaccines, counting deaths, contemplating drinking disinfectant… these are a few responses we have seen in response to current times. But with the corona-craze and winter approaching, let’s redirect our attention back to a fundament of Chinese Medicine – prevention.
“A piece of paper, if maintained well, can easily stay nice and smooth for a long time. If you treat it roughly and crumple it up, it is hard to iron it flat again. And even if you do, it cannot go back to its original smoothness.” – My mother.
The message in this resonates with an ancient thousands-year-old lifestyle practice called Yang Sheng. Yang Sheng aims at cultivating life holistically by nurturing the mind and body to promote wellbeing. It emphasises we should take a preventative approach by responding appropriately to the rhythms of nature and listening to our bodies’ needs. If we wait until there is a problem before taking action, we are compromising our chances of achieving optimal health.
With appropriate Yang Sheng practice, we can ensure our immune systems are ready to take on what life throws at us. These are some things that can benefit you at this time of year:
1) Moderate exercise: this circulates the Wei Qi (protection) and builds the Yang (warmth) which prevents external factors like Wind, Cold and Damp from impacting our health. You can avoid fatigue, headache, indigestion, frequent urination, bloating, nasal congestion, pain, cold and flu, numbness and stiffness – all of which can be due to weak Wei Qi or a lack of Yang.
How do you know how much exercise is enough?
A good way to gauge what the appropriate level of exercise is to be mindful of how you feel afterwards. Are you drained and tired or rejuvenated and uplifted? The latter is the outcome we want.
2) Seasonal eating: Nourishing and warming foods are also key to building the Qi and Yang. Try swapping out some of your cold/raw foods, salads and dairy products for root vegetables, broths, mushrooms, garlic, ginger and cinnamon.
3) More rest: Rest and sleep are essential for repair and restoration for all our systems. When we look at nature, there is less activity and more sleep in Winter. Meanwhile, there continues to be a detrimentally high incidence of sleep deprivation among us. We need to shift our view of sleep from being a luxury, to being a non-negotiable essential for health. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is the saying but “I’ll sleep or else I’ll die” is the reality.
Trouble sleeping? Here’s a guide to good sleep hygiene
4) Stress management: Stress stagnates the Qi which weakens your defences. Find what works for you personally to manage stress – whether it be acupuncture, meditation or having a solo dance party. A balanced routine in this time of chaos and change is also key for your emotional regulation, which Robin talked about in our previous blog post.
An example of a healthy routine based on the Chinese Clock.
An acupuncturist & herbalist at Project DAO