How to Thrive During the Coldest Time of Year
A solar term is a period of about two weeks based on the sun’s position in the zodiac and forms the traditional Chinese calendar system. The calendar follows the ancient Chinese belief that living in accordance with nature will enable one to live a harmonious life. This article series explores each solar term, offering guidance on how to best navigate the season.
You merrily celebrated through the holiday season, only to learn that you now must endure the coldest two weeks of the year. In the Chinese calendar system, this solar term is known as Minor Cold, and falls on Jan. 5 to 19.
But all is not lost. While many loathe this cold, traditional Chinese medicine sees these days as a great opportunity for healing. By taking advantage of the extreme temperatures and embracing the weather, you can push out chronic illness symptoms and prepare for greater well-being in the spring.
Attune Your Lifestyle
While the earth’s female yin elements are at their peak now, the male yang elements are the weakest. By leveraging either of these energies with some simple lifestyle changes, you can shift your body’s inner state of health.
Discomfort in our bodies that results from coldness (too much yin), such as coughing, itchy skin, or sleeplessness, will be at its worst during this time, so this is the best time to treat those symptoms according to Chinese wisdom.
Avoid too much indoor heating, as the warm temperatures confuse our bodies and exacerbate the yin energy. We actually need exposure to the cold to contract our muscles and skin. This closes our pores, allowing us to retain our body heat and its yang energy.
If the indoor environment is too warm, we are telling our bodies that it is not yet winter and that there is no need to save yang energy. Then when spring comes, our bodies have not yet stored enough yang energy for the necessary renewing cycle, and we are likely to feel tired and low-energy. This can also lead to premature aging, or a higher risk of getting sick in the spring.
The coldest time of the year is also the best time to treat symptoms that typically arise during the heat of summer—when yang is at the extreme—such as excess sweating, difficulty concentrating, and fatigue.
Since yang energy is weak during this time, we can easily bring in cold from outside to cool down our bodies with little effort.
Try setting the thermostat to 68 degrees Fahrenheit and opening the windows every morning and evening to let in the outside air. While enduring the cold temperatures, keep your feet, stomach, and back warm. With proper exercise and meditation, we can strengthen our bodies and become more resilient to the cold.
After yin reaches the extreme, it starts falling, and yang starts to rise. Birds are also sensitive to these changes. Wild geese start to head north, magpies start to build new nests, and male and female pheasants happily sing together in response to the awakening of the yang energy.
The earliest blooms of the year also start from this solar term. After a long hibernation, Chinese plum trees, camellias, and daffodils show their blossoms. On silver or grey landscapes, flowers bring refreshing color and joy to the world.
Avoid eating greasy or heavy foods to keep warm. It may please the taste buds, but it thickens blood vessels, causing the heart to work harder. A better choice is warm vegetable soups, made with root vegetables, beans, and lean meats. It’s also a good idea to avoid cold or iced drinks and food.
Almonds, black sesame seeds, dates, lamb, oats, red beans, taro, walnuts, and yams are all good foods to eat during this time.
Cinnamon, cumin, garlic, hibiscus tea, and rose tea are good for improving blood and energy circulation.
Epoch Times contributor Moreen Liao is a descendant of four generations of traditional Chinese medicine doctors. She is also a certified aromatherapist and the founder of Ausganica, a manufacturer of salon-quality, certified organic cosmetics. Visit Ausganica.com