TCM teaches us to live in harmony with the seasons. Each season has many associations that help us change our habits, allowing for a more balanced mind and body. As the seasons change, we need to change our self-care routines to accommodate the weather, amount of daylight, our schedule, and so forth.
This week, we've put together a WInter Self Care Guide to help bring balance to your skin, body and mind.
1.Rest but not lazeIn TCM, the season of winter is a time of repair and rejuvenation so that we have the energy to spring forth when Spring comes. With rest, internal energy is collected and held in reserve. This rest is important as it will gives us the needed energy, vision, and purpose when we move into spring- a season of growth, renewal of spirit, and fresh starts.
However, we should not laze. It is important to keep the body moving during daylight. Physical activity can help you sleep better and reduce anxiety. Regular physical activity also helps you feel better, improve your balance, lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and many kinds of cancer, strengthen bones and muscles, lower blood pressure, maintain or lose weight, and keep your mind sharp as you get older.
2. Mediate and Self reflection
Practices like tai chi, qi gong, meditation and yoga are beneficial during the winter season. Not only it keeps our body moving, these practices help us connect to our inner selves, while supporting the kidney energy. They also help relax the mind and calm our emotions.
For those in New York, we'll be resuming our 8 Brocade Qi Gong lessons with in house TCM physician Dr. Ming Liu. in the next coming weeks. Please look out for your email if you are interested.
8 Brocade Qi Gong is grounding, moving, shaking, strengthening, releasing, expressing. It’s getting honest and present and ultimately coming home to your heart. It's about being in flow using body movements
If it’s too cold to get outside, get near a window when the sun starts shining through.
Get a few minutes of sun to start your day and see the difference it makes.
With that said, you'll still need SPF. Just because it is winter, it doesn’t mean you should put away your sunscreen. While there is less UVB around in winter, levels of UVA (or UV-Ageing as it is known in the dermatology world) are still significant enough to age our skin.
5. Lots and lots of fluids
Your skin will become drier and often more sensitive with the onset of colder weather and central heating. Drinking room temperature water is a vital step to maintaining sufficient kidney qi throughout the winter months. Make sure you keep hydrated during the day; swap your coffee for herbal tea which has great antioxidant effects. Herbal teas are a fantastic alternative to water. As well as hydrating, they are high in antioxidants, calming and caffeine free.
6. Fuel up on warm skin food
Fill your plate with foods that grow naturally during the winter. Items such as squash, potatoes, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, root vegetables like beets, greens, carrots, mushrooms, apples, pears and cabbage are great.
During the winter months, cold foods like salads and raw foods should be avoided as they will deplete the immune system. There are also foods that specifically target and nourish the kidneys, including kidney beans, beef, goose, duck, black beans, lamb, chicken, dark leafy greens, garlic, ginger, walnuts, quinoa, asparagus, celery, onion, fennel, scallions, cloves, watercress and turnips. As with anything, moderation is key.
Most of these are skin superfoods and are packed with antioxidants that protect the skin against the signs of aging.
7. Tweak your daily skincare routine layer up
If you are having to apply a moisturiser during the day it is likely your skin routine needs tweaking. If you're using a lotion, try swapping it for a oil, massaging it into your skin for 30 seconds to maximise its effects.
Layering products up during night time gives gives it time to repair itself or maintain its natural barrier function The simple rule of thumb for skin layering is to apply products from the thinnest consistency to the thickest.
8. Consider Gua Sha
GuaSha therapy is a healing technique from traditional Chinese medicine dating back almost 3,000 years. GuaSha treatment practitioners used stones or porcelain tools to 'scrape' a patient's skin bringing blood to the surface and speeding the natural healing process. GuaSha therapy can decrease pain and inflammation as well as boost immunity. As often is the case with alternative healing modalities, the practice treats the body holistically, ensuring health not just on the surface of the skin, but also throughout the body’s systems. Not only it helps tighten and tone skin, it also helps move lymphatic fluids, improve blood circulation during Winter.
9. PROTECT YOUR CHI WITH TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine utilizes numerous modalities and tools to help keep the body balanced and prepped for the seasonal changes. However, we often go to acupuncturists to fix a problem that already persists. Once an imbalance has been present in the body for some time, it can create a deeper health problem. According to experts, getting acupuncture on a regular basis maintains balance to the body and help maintain excellent overall health.
We hope you enjoyed this guide. As always, please reach out to us with any questions in regards to skincare or TCM. Our in-house TCM Dr Ming Liu is available 6 days a week at the GingerChi holistic spa here in New York City.