On December 21st we celebrate the Winter Solstice and with it comes the darkest days of the year when light is scarce and fire can only be found in the hearth. And as above, so below; as outside, so inside; we too are marking a low point in our yang energies when our fires are at their weakest and must be safeguarded.
We must simmer down so that come Spring, we may burst forth with renewed energy and vigor. What’s the best way to do this? Slow down and rest of course! Often and unfortunately with today’s societal pressures, for many, this step requires some external help.
How do we slow down with nature?
1. First and often most importantly among the American culture, is to nourish our adrenals. We do too much. We stress too much. We worry too much. We do too much. And who takes the brunt of this overdrive? Our adrenals- the organs of fight flight or freeze, the organs of stress, the organs of calm, and for women, the organs involved in healthy hormones (part of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis)… .
When our adrenals are taxed, we are taxed and as a result, we constantly feel fatigued, exhausted and burnt out. We simply cannot get ahead and eventually our bodies go into overdrive where it becomes even more difficult to slow down and deeply relax. Sound familiar? Fortunately, with new gadgets like the Fitbit, which measures our sleep patterns, we are all beginning to gain insight into just how poorly we sleep.
This is where adaptogenic herbs like Ashwaganda (“Indian Ginseng”), Reishi (“The Mushroom of Immortality”), Tulsi (“Holy Basil”), Ginseng (only a good quality) and Rhodiola (“Plateau Ginseng”) come into play. Adaptogenic herbs feed the adrenals to help you find a better balance between going and resting. We must remember that if we are burning the candle on one end, we are taking from our reserve batteries and creating a deficit. This is why these herbs are all historically known for promoting longevity.
So this season, take care of yourself and add one of these herbs into your daily routine. In general, they are extremely safe and non-toxic. Please note that often times these herbs slow you down before your energy returns. This is called regeneration through balancing! If it makes you uncomfortable, then adjust your dosage. Once balance approaches, you will feel more energy during the day and deeper rest at night. Minerals, especially magnesium, are also a good nutritional adjunct to adrenal support.
2. Secondly, proper rest requires rhythm: go to bed before 10, and arise before 6. Try it, it works. Also, winter is not an excuse to be sluggish and lazy. If you are of a larger build or carry excess weight then make sure to keep yourself invigorated.
3. And thirdly, think warmly. The holidays are such a wonderful time of year. Our hearts are warm and homes aglow. But often times, January comes around and we crash into the cold. In winter, it is wise to preserve your own fire by bringing it into your life via nutrition; drinking warm teas, adding warming spices, choosing root vegetables, eating winter colors, dressing warmly (wool socks to bed anyone?), etc. Get into soups, gingerbread cookies, Indian food (excellent for the digestion), congees, kitchari and winter roasts. Think light, warm and nourishing.
Dr. Deb Salazar is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Licensed Acupuncturist who specializes in women's health, fertility and difficult/stubborn/chronic/recalcitrant disease. If you are interested in how acupuncture, herbs and Chinese Medicine can help you this winter, please schedule an appointment today. (508) 428-1288