Wellness Tips for the Winter

Simple tips to stay well in the winter months…
The season of winter is correlated with the Taoist five element of Water. The Water element is associated with the Kidney energy system, which is connected to the bladder, low back, and ears just to highlight a few areas to bring extra love and care during the winter season. One of my favorite warming rituals in the cold season is to warm a Rice Pack (more info below on how to make a Rice Pack) in the microwave and snuggle it up to my low back. It feels wonderful just about anywhere and will not dry out your sinuses like curling up to a heater can.

Living on the coast of California we can have miraculous warm days in the middle of the cold season while these days are to be celebrated don’t trick yourself into thinking we are in a different season- the sudden weather shifts are frequently the instigator of a cold/flu.

In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) all pernicious influences a.k.a. causes for disease, enter from the back of the neck, this area is referred to as the “Tai Yang”. Have you ever noticed that your neck feels a little stiff or achy a couple days before you come down with a cold or flu? Your muscles are attempting to block out the pernicious influences. Keep your neck covered with a scarf or hoodie. Other tips:
Keep your feet warm and dry.
Do not sit on cold; no metal chairs or cold cement
Do not leave the house with a wet head
Pay attention to weather shifts
Pay special attention to windy days, there is a protective layer of qi around your body called Wei qi which can easily be blown away by the wind. Wei qi’s job is to help keep the elements out.

Sleep, Sleep and More Sleep! 8-12hrs when you need it or you’ll end up in bed anyway, feeling icky. Our culture under estimates the importance of sleep especially during the holiday season. I highly encourage you to heed the call for rest.

Eat for the season, stoke the digestive fire, eat warm, spicy food such as ginger, raw garlic, and cayenne. Avoid cold, damp, foods such as ice cream, raw tofu, raw salads, and large amounts of citrus, food cold from the fridge. All of these foods will smother the digestive fires causing mucus, which will lead to an excessive runny nose and digestive upset. I have included a Restorative Soup Recipe below to give you ideas on how to make tasty food that is a medicinal meal.

Restoration Soup
This soup is bound to warm you up and make you sweat. It is best to eat at the very first signs of cold or flu, hopefully it nips it in the bud and you wake up feeling great. You can also eat it as your moving through and recovering from a cold or flu.
4 cups green cabbage, chopped
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
12 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons grated ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
juice of one lime
1/3 cup white miso, (or add a scoop to each bowl as you go)
Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a soup pot. Add the cabbage, celery, onion, carrot and half the garlic, cover and cook for 15 min.
Stir in the rest of the garlic, ginger and the jalapeno pepper and turn off the heat. Squeeze in the limejuice and the miso.

Rice Pack Directions
(I don’t advise cooking food in a microwave but you’ll need one to heat up your rice pack, if you have one in the house this is what to use it for)
What you’ll need:
A piece of flannel approx 20×16 inches (wash it before you sew)
4-5 cups organic short grain brown rice.

Turn the flannel in side out and sew up the edges leaving a 3-inch hole. Turn the flannel right side out through the hole. Pour in approx 1.5 cups of rice, sew a seam through the width of the flannel making a sealed off pocket of rice in 1/3rd of the flannel, about 7 inches long. Pour another 1.5 cup of rice, and sew another seam through the width of the flannel making a 2nd sealed off pocket of rice (about 7 inches in length) in the 2nd /3rd of the flannel. Pour the remaining third of rice in the last pocket and sew up the hole.

Heat the rice pack in the microwave for 3 minutes. Avoid putting it directly on your skin till it cools off a little. My rice packs are one of my favorite companions in the winter months. May you grow to love yours as much as I love mine.