How to Embrace the Winter Elements & Stay Healthy
I recently caught up with holistic health counselor Brandon Waloff about his Winter Health Reset Program. Here are his insights about how aligning with the season promotes greater wellbeing both physically and emotionally.
So here we are… the official first day of winter. It’s a season I’ve come to grow and love. However, I know for some of you “loving winter” might sound sarcastic. I get it.
The winter is supposed to be dark, quiet, still, lonely and cold. But did you know that according to Chinese 5-Element theory, we should use these defining characteristics of winter for our own inner-growth? If you are in the majority of those who struggle with the season, let me shed some light on these dark months to perhaps inspire you to enjoy it more and feel healthy and happy this season.
It‘s dark: The darkness of winter is here to show us the mysteries of life and our inner, emotional state. In the summer, the sun rules the sky, and it’s about outward play and expression. In the winter, it’s the opposite; the moon rules the sky, and it is here to show us our inward emotional body so we can feel the winter and hopefully understand more of who we are.
It‘s quiet: What’s that sound? Nothing? That’s right. In winter there seems to be a certain stillness that permeates the landscape. The animals are hibernating, the leaves have fallen off the trees, and there is less outer noise in the environment. According to Chinese 5-Element Theory, the sound and sense organs of winter are the ears, and the actions are listening. Talk less, listen more and notice the stillness around you. Allow this exercise to help you figure out where you want your new year to take you.
It‘s still: Many things in nature slow down in the winter. And so should we. Again, what happens outside our homes should be a reflection of what should be happening inside them. Don’t exhaust yourself in the winter or you will be off-balance in spring. Take rest early, stay inside, cozy up and drink warm fluids to help nourish the body. The winter is about slowing down.
It‘s lonely: There’s a reason they call them the “winter blues.” Seasonal change can be tough. But what if we could allow ourselves to create a healthy relationship with feeling lonely and blue? Practice journaling, drawing, pondering, feeling and intuiting your inner emotions by creating a healthy relationship with them. What really is happening in this season is the completion and start of a year-long cycle. Take note of what you want to create and what you want to let die. Feel it all and let go of anything that doesn’t serve you.
It‘s cold: For most of us, it’s cold out there and we have to eat in accordance with the season. Eating more fats, carbohydrates and proteins as well as eating warming stews and soups with root vegetables is key! At the same time, avoid cooling foods and don’t over-indulge in sugar, alcohol or holiday party snacks. Excessive behavior is not for the winter.
Good luck this winter and make sure you are gentle and easy with yourself. It can be a rough journey, but the good news is, spring is around the corner.
Brandon Waloff is passionate about a lot of things. A holistic health counselor from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, he has been studying what he calls “The Food Journey,“–the effects of different diets and seasonal shifts. Besides being a health coach, he has worked all around the natural product industry, studied yoga and dances regularly at Ecstatic Dance in Oakland, CA. Currently, Brandon is developing projects geared around his creative images, like the ones in this blog, that support his projects, The Health Crunch and The Winter Health Reset Program (which is perfect for anyone who struggles with winter).