Winter can feel like the end… especially if you live in one of the southern states where snow on the mountains can cause freezing winds to flow through your city and chill you to your bones. While winter is often depicted as a doom and gloom season, there are some simple ways that you can support your skin and your health during the cooler months. And yes, one of them includes a cute scarf.
What does Winter mean in Chinese Medicine?
In Chinese Medicine, winter is the end of all seasons. It’s associated with the element Water, the emotion of Fear, the organ system of the Kidneys and emphasises the Yin principles. If you’re flowing with winter, you’ll be becoming more receptive and introspective, it’s a time to rest, to meditate deeply, refine the spiritual essence, and store physical energy – yes, it is natural to put on a little insulating weight. During winter your skin and the surface of your body will cool, and you’ll be seeking inner warmth. Even though it’s a season of Yin dominance, make sure you still keep active to keep your spine and joints flexible is important.
The Water Element and the Kidney System
The Kidney System goes well beyond just the Kidneys in TCM. The organs associated with the Water Element are the kidneys and the bladder, these govern the water metabolism and control the bladder. The kidneys are also viewed as the root and foundation of the body. They govern the lower part, including the reproductive system. They also provide energy and warmth. These “roots” of the body are the foundation of all the yin and yang qualities in the body. General symptoms of Kidney imbalance include:
- All bone problems, especial knees, lower back, and teeth
- Hearing loss and ear infections and diseases
- Head-hair problems – hair loss, split ends, premature graying
- Any urinary or reproductive imbalance (including evening urination, frequently waking up to go to the bathroom)
- Poor growth and development of the mind and body (including premature aging)
- Excessive fear and insecurity
Boost Your Immunity
There’s nothing sexy about being sick. To keep that goddess glow all throughout winter you need to support your immune system. So what can you do, apart from washing your hands? We recommend still coming in for your cosmetic acupuncture appointment if you have a cold or the flu. Chinese Medicine is a great way of building up the immune system helping you recover faster (and who doesn’t love an excuse to receive some body Gua Sha).
Immune boosting foods that you can consume are:
???? bone broth (try our bone broth concentrate)
????️ daikon / white radish
???? pork hock, lambs necks, oxtail
A TCM hack that is simple for you to implement right now is wearing a scarf. As simple as it sounds, keeping your neck covered not only keeps you warm, it also protects your immune system. The back of the neck is vulnerable to wind and wintry weather. If left unprotected, wind can easily penetrate, and quite often sniffles follow! Protect yourself by wrapping up! Another simple tip is to wear socks. Heat easily escapes from the feet. Not only will you keep warm, but covering your feet promotes energy flow!
Want some extra health support during winter? Try one of our Yu Ping Feng San supplements… if you’re thinking Yu… what? It’s a Chinese Medicine formula that supports you immune system, we have two options available, check our shop.
Winter and Your Skin
It will come as no surprise to you that winter can be very drying for your skin. Hydration is sexy. There’s nothing that looks better than when your face is hydrated! Especially during the colder months when the wind can dry your skin out. Our facial masques are specially formulated with Chinese Medicine herbs, and they smell great! Our founder, Dr Abbie, fell in love with these masques on her internship in China and now you can get your hands on them too.
Winter is quite damp so including bitter foods in your diet can help to reduce damp-associated conditions such as skin eruptions! Also limiting sweet foods and making sure you chew your carbs well will help. Gradually increase bitter foods during autumn and winter in order to nourish the Kidneys and contract and channel energy lower into the body for the colder season. Bitter foods include: alfalfa, bitter melon, rye, citrus peel, turnip, amaranth, asparagus, celery, lettuce, quinoa,radish leaf, shallots, and white pepper. Salt nourishes the Water Element and Kidney System helps penetrate the water deeper into the body.
Dermal rolling is a fabulous thing to do for your skin during winter #alwaysfollowedbyamasque. Because the skin is dry we want to encourage more circulation to the top so dermal rolling combined with a hydration masque while the light is lower to encourage skin tone, and skin isn’t exposed to as much light and damage as it would be in summer. Winter is when you get all your IPL and laser done, the lower light with less exposure to UV/burn as in summer.
Continuing your daily at-home Glow Sha treatments with a serum to nourish your skin is especially helpful during winter. Improving lymphatic drainage, clearing Q stagnation, encouraging circulation, increasing collagen production and repairing processes in the skin are just some of the benefits of a winter Gua Sha protocol.
Winter Self Care Ritual
We are huge advocates for self care. One very simple self care ritual that you can do this winter to support the Kidney system is to invite yourself to a luxurious foot bath. This practice will help reduce stress, anxiety, and over-thinking, and help with sleeping. It’s best done in conjunction with good sleep hygiene and avoiding any electronics for 30 minutes prior to bed.
The idea is to pull all the hot energy or qi down from the mind shen to the feet in order to relax and calm ready for sleep. It also boosts the Kidney element which begins under the foot, and pertains to vitality and calmness.
This is best done next to bed and should be the last thing you do before sleep.
✨Find a bucket that you can fit both feet in.
✨Fill the bucket with water as hot as you can stand (do not burn), but the hottest water you can cope with, to the level that is covering your ankles.
✨It can be plain water or options to add into the water include:
- Epsom salts (about 1 cup)
- Normal salt (up to 1 cup)
- Any essential oils (lavender is a good place to start)
- Rose petals, slices of ginger, or goji berries.
- Chinese herbal foot bath bags (grab them from our shop now)
✨Leave your feet to soak for a minimum of 10 minutes, 15-20 minutes is ideal.
✨Use this time to do breathing exercises, meditation or listening to calming music or a guided meditation. Our favourite is this empowered heart meditation.
✨Remove your feet from the bucket, towel dry, put on socks, and if possible, try not to let your feet touch the ground before bed.
If you have any questions about winter and your skin or health, leave us a comment below.