The Way to Winter Wellness

Avoid getting sick this season and next.

Prevention is the best medicine – you’ve heard it time and again. So how exactly do you prevent getting sick in the cold winter months? Here are a few tips that have been shown to work over the thousands of years that Chinese medicine has been in practice.

Rest! It’s dark earlier in the evening and stays darker longer in the morning. Take a hint from nature and get adequate sleep. This will help prevent illness now and in the upcoming seasons. It’s generally cold out anyway. Use this time to get cozy, rest up, and conserve energy for the spring and summer.

Keep exercise moderate. You’re body was not made to shed weight in the winter months. Exercise and movement are extremely important to many aspects of well-being so keep a regular routine in place. Understand this may not be the best time for you to PR (personal record) all of your workouts and push yourself to extremes. Check in with your body to see how you feel before, during, and after exercise to establish a good gauge for this.

Eat warm foods. Even if its not the frigid winter you were expecting (like many of us here in Maryland), eat nourishing, warm foods. Avoid raw snacks and cook hearty meals. Soups and stews are great this time of year. Include warming spices – such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove – in meals to add to the warming effect of your foods. Enjoying cooked foods and giving adequate time to digest will supplement the qi that builds your immune system.

Bundle up. Exposure to cold can create illness. Some areas that are especially sensitive to cold invasions are your feet and neck. Wear warm shoes and socks to keep feet protected. Even wear socks or slippers indoors if you could be stepping on cold tile or wooden floors. Wear scarves and high jackets to keep the back of your neck protected. If you’ll be sitting on metal chairs and bleachers for sporting events, bring a blanket or pad to sit on.

Use Chinese medicine. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are great for taking care of symptoms and even better at preventing them! Get in to see your acupuncturist more frequently this season if you tend to catch colds and flus in winter and spring. Ask about herbal formulas that can help boost your immune system.

Already got the sniffles? Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help that, too. Make an appointment. If you have a few days before seeing your practitioner, give this a try: Feeling thirsty with a sore throat and sweats = Sip on some mint tea. Feeling achy, avoiding the cold, and have a runny nose with clear mucous = Try ginger or cinnamon tea.