Beat the Winter Blues

Winter blues got you down? Here are some healthy habits to incorporate in your lifestyle for your health and longevity.

Beat the Winter Blues
The winter season is when nature sleeps, and everything experiences the slowing of natural processes—even our bodies. Chinese medicine links the winter season to the kidneys, the adrenal glands, and the bladder. Innactivity leads to an accumulation of toxins and carbon dioxide; people are inclined to colds, flu, poor circulation, and low vitality.

To avoid the winter blues, take some advice from the Yellow Emperor: go to sleep early and wait to let the sun bathe the house before rising from bed, dress warmly, engage in physical exercise, refrain from eating cold and raw foods, reduce salt to protect the kidneys, and increase bitter flavors, found in foods such as rhubarb and kale. Be happy and avoid experiencing excessive emotions.

Positive Activities for a Positive Mood
The best way to regulate your mood is through eating a proper balanced diet and practicing a good exercise program. These are a few specific measures you can take to maintain a positive outlook all through the winter:

1. Eat smaller meals, more frequently, and drink more liquids.

2. Avoid dairy, alcohol, coffee, sugar, and fatty foods. Excessive spicy foods are also not recommended, but a certain amount of pungency is beneficial.

3. Begin your day with a 20-minute brisk walk in the fresh air.

4. Get at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Take a 30-minute walk 1 hour before bed, not for exercise, but to help you sleep more soundly.

4. Movement is essential for proper metabolism and energy circulation. Consider learning and practicing some form of tai chi or qigong exercises; these exercises in particular are very effective in balancing energy. However, any exercise will be beneficial in keeping your energy up and avoiding stagnation.

5. Don’t try to do too much in one day. Over planning is an energy-depleting activity. Try making only one or two items a priority every day. This way you can build on success instead of failure.

Fire Up Your Vitality with Ginger Tea
Since ancient times, Chinese physicians have regularly consumed ginger tea to keep their vitality fired up. Not only will ginger tea give you a boost with its pungent taste; it also has many significant healing properties. Besides its popular application for digestive distress, ginger has been found to contain geraniol, which may be a potent cancer fighter. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve pain, prevent blood clots, and inhibit the onset of migraine headaches.

How to make fresh ginger tea:
Cut a 2-inch piece from a fresh ginger root. Thinly slice this piece. Bring 4 cups of water to boiling in a saucepan. Add the ginger and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover for about fifteen minutes. Strain the tea and serve.

I hope you will be able to integrate these strategies into your winter program. I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

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This entry was posted in Blog.