By Kate Downes, LAc TCM Practitioner
Every season comes with its self-care challenges and benefits, and winter is no exception. Beyond being a time of rest and rejuvenation, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) also sees winter as a powerful phase in our yearly cycle. How we use this time can make or break our health for the year. Let’s take a closer look at what winter means for our health, and how you can use TCM tips to enjoy winter-inspired self-care rituals.
Winter and TCM
Traditional Chinese Medicine views each season as a phase with distinct characteristics and correlations. To live well is to embrace these shifts in the environment and ourselves.
Winter is the most yin of all the seasons – and we can see this in the shorter, darker, colder days. Winter is also associated with the water element, the Kidney system, introspection, and revitalization.
To stay well in winter, TCM recommends striking a balance between embracing yin energy to live in tune with the season, while also avoiding extremes to maintain your balance. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Yin activities restore your energy.
In winter, focus your time on yin-type activities that recharge your batteries, rather than wear them out. For example, trade high-intensity workouts for yin yoga or stretching, and late nights out for intimate, cozy get-togethers with close friends.
Exposure to cold can lead to imbalances.
While we do want to embrace yin, balance is still essential. It’s important to avoid extreme cold at this time of year, as it can lead to a range of health issues like digestive upset, fatigue, pain, dull skin, and more. Balance winter’s cold by layering up, eating warm and nourishing foods, and drinking warming herbal teas.
Explore your inner world.
Winter is a naturally intuitive time, which makes it perfect for exploring the landscapes of your inner worlds – both your home and your mind. Spend time curating your sacred space to create a sense of stability and safety. Then, practice rituals that help you get to know yourself better, such as meditation, journaling, and tarot card readings.
TCM Self-Care Rituals for Winter Wellness
- Soak up the water element.
With winter’s element being water, there’s no better time to get in touch with your inner fish. Look to water-based self-care rituals that have a calming, meditative effect. Floatation pod therapy, herbal baths, steam rooms, or even walks near bodies of water can inspire your self-care this winter (just be sure to dry off well and get warm quickly afterward).
You can also embrace the beauty of the water element with a skincare ritual that not only hydrates dry winter skin but also helps you tap into your mystic and intuitive side. The Water Element Collection is a deeply cleansing and hydrating 3-step skincare ritual for those with an astrological water sign (Cancer, Scorpio, or Pisces), or anyone who wants to embrace the power of the water element.
- Make your bedtime an hour earlier.
Winter’s yin energy can leave you feeling sleepier than usual. Rather than try to fight against it with caffeine, embrace the slower pace of life this time of year. Resting more in winter is a simple way to help replenish your energy for spring while living in tune with the season. Start your bedtime wind-down ritual an hour (or two) earlier than usual and enjoy the extra time to linger and relax (or get right to sleep!).
But what if you’re not feeling tired? You’re not alone. For many of us, worrying about the year ahead, stress, or even bursting creative energy and motivation can stimulate your mind and keep you awake at night. This is where a little help from aromatherapy comes in. Massage a few drops of the Midnight Melody Perfume Oil behind your ears and on the soles of your feet. The dreamy floral scent (charged with peaceful amethyst) will help calm your mind and body and ease you into sleep.
- Pamper your feet.
In TCM, the winter season is most closely linked to the Kidney system. Because the Kidney channel starts on the soles of the feet and wraps around the inner ankle, the foot is an important area to nurture during winter. Try this simple ritual to give your feet some winter TLC:
Set up a warm foot bath and add a small handful of epsom salt to the warm water. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes.
Remove your feet from the bath, pat dry, and massage Pink Moon Midnight Melody Body + Hair Oil into both feet. Using a gua sha tool, gently glide along the bottom of the feet, along the arches, and up along the inner ankle and shin to stimulate healthy qi flow through your Kidney channel.
It’s crucial to keep your feet warm and cozy during winter to prevent cold from entering the Kidney channel and throwing your system off balance. After a few minutes of gua sha, reapply a few drops of the Midnight Melody Oil (or any of your favorite nourishing oils or creams), then slip your feet into a soft pair of socks.
Winter is so much more than cold and dark days. This yin time of year gives us the launching pad to rest and recharge, so we’re ready to take on the next season feeling brand new. Self-care rituals during this time are essential to enjoying the season and setting yourself up for a healthy year ahead.
Follow us at @PinkMoon.co for more tips and inspiration to create and refine your seasonal self-care rituals!