Its been a hard copy of weeks here in eastern MA with snow storms dumping almost 36 inches of snow in the Boston area. With the snow has come a cold spell leaving temperatures often in the single or double digits, and worse with wind chill. The two combined mean many of us are outside shoveling or commuting for long stretches in the cold and wind. Consciously counteracting the cold helps us navigate the winter season with some ease and health.
Chinese Medicine has some good lifestyle suggestions to help us counteract cold.
- Dress warmly. Seems obvious but it isn’t unusual for me to see people outside shoveling or commuting with warm hats, gloves and jackets but just a pair of jeans or tights on their legs. Protect your lower body with enough layers to keep you warm — and of course, dry. If your pants get wet, or snow gets in your boots, you’ll be cold and miserable, which makes shoveling or commuting much worse. You can always take off the extra layer when you get to your destination.
- Eat warmly. Again, seems obvious, but look how many people are eating cold food for breakfast and lunch: cereal with cold milk and salads are the big culprits I see. If you often feel cold, increase the warmth of your meals by switching to things like oatmeal, some eggs, even pancakes if you can tolerate gluten. If you are really cold, add cinnamon and/or ginger for more warmth. For lunch: bring and warm up leftovers or buy soup and other cooked foods.
- Hunker down and enjoy the slowness: winter is a time when nature slows down, the outside movement is stilled so energy can be conserved for the exuberance of spring and summer. We’ve lost the willingness to slow down and conserve our resources, thinking that because its warm in our houses and electricity has taken away night, that we don’t need to pay attention to nature’s cycles. The problem with this thinking is that our bodies ARE part of nature and they too need rest and renewal, time to store and conserve. So instead of cramming your week with activity, examine what you have to do and what you can let go of, for now. Then find a good book, a good friend or a good movie and sit down and relax. Put a blanket on if you need it, and enjoy. Spring and summer will come and you won’t want to do these indoor activities as often, so take advantage of the cold. You’ll feel renewed for the next commute or shoveling session.
By paying attention to some of the basic ways to counteract cold we can find ways to enjoy winter and transition through it with enjoyment.