How to Preserve Energy in the Winter

In this article we cover how to preserve energy in the winter from a Chinese perspective. The arrival of “Li Dong” marks the beginning of winter in traditional Chinese culture. It signifies the time for preservation and protecting oneself from the cold winds. Here are some key points and practices related to health maintenance during winter in Chinese tradition.

Preservation Methods During Winter

  • In ancient Chinese culture, each season had a specific role, and winter was associated with “preservation.” This meant taking steps to stay warm and healthy during the cold season.
  • People were advised to keep windows closed to avoid cold winds and to stay in well-insulated spaces. Wearing warm clothing and sleeping with thick quilts were common practices to ward off the cold.
  • Diet played a crucial role in preservation. Traditional Chinese medicine suggested that certain foods were suitable for each season. Millet, which was considered “sticky rice,” was recommended for winter as it helped keep the body warm. Foods with high calories, like rice cakes and mochi, were also popular during this season. Tea was a favored drink in winter.

Balancing “Water” and “Fire” in the Kidneys

  • Traditional Chinese medicine considers winter a “cold water” season associated with the kidneys. To maintain kidney health, it’s important to balance “Water” and “Fire” in the kidneys.
  • Depending on an individual’s specific needs, they might need to supplement either the “Water” or “Fire” of the kidneys. Certain herbal remedies and teas, like “Liu Wei Di Huang Wan” or “Gui Fu Ba Wei Wan,” can help achieve this balance.
  • Tea, being versatile, can assist in both “Water” and “Fire” supplementation, making it a valuable beverage for winter health.

Seasonal Foods and Health Maintenance

  • In traditional Chinese medicine, foods are categorized into different elements based on the Five Phase theory. Each season has specific foods associated with it.
  • Winter corresponds to “Water,” which relates to the kidneys. To maintain health during this season, one can prepare nourishing soups and dishes with ingredients like ginseng, astragalus, ginger, and Chinese angelica.
  • Suggested foods for winter health maintenance include mutton hotpot, ginger duck, sesame oil chicken, and Siwu chicken. These foods help support overall well-being during the cold months.
  • The principle of “Earth” in the Five Phases theory applies to all four seasons, emphasizing the importance of maintaining the health of the spleen and stomach throughout the year.

Preserving Mental Energy

  • In addition to physical health, traditional Chinese culture emphasized preserving mental energy during winter.
  • It was recommended to store wishes and desires for the upcoming season rather than expending energy on achieving them during winter.
  • Meditation and sitting calmly were suggested practices to calm the mind and conserve mental energy.