Strengthen and protect yourself this Winter

As the season changes, from summer to autumn, then autumn to winter, your body changes too. Some might feel tired, experience pain, have sleep disturbance or suffer from Seasonable Affective Disorder. From Chinese medicine point of view, the Yin and Yang balance is shifting during this transition, making our body in a vulnerable state to the temperature changes, shortened daylight, and virus or bacterial infection.

The Victorian Government recently announced the new rules of living in the COVID period. As of 22 April 2022, neither check in nor vaccine status is required when attending many venues. In addition, mask is no longer required in many settings except for a few.  The mask rule has been there for over two years during the COVID-19 pandemic. This change is based on the high vaccination rate and low mortality of the new variant of COVID-19.  It is a great milestone that we have achieved. We are on the pathway to regain our normal life. However we are far from out of the pandemic as COVID-19 virus continues to mutate and prevalent in the community internationally.

In addition, as we have been indoors in the last two years, our immune system could have been weakened. This winter many people will be more susceptible to flus virus and other common colds. Indeed at moment in Geelong, many people are sick, not from COVID-19, but from other common forms of virus.

So how do we protect ourselves this winter? One of the fundamental principles in Chinese medicine is “When the righteous Qi is within, evil Qi cannot invade our body”. The righteous Qi can be understood as the balanced or resilient immunity we have; whereas the evil Qi is those pathogens external to our body, such as virus or bacteria.

The key to strengthen our righteous Qi is to maintain a balanced Yin and Yang. In autumn and winter, there will be more Yin around us as the day is cold and the night is longer. The air could be dry, which often comprises the balanced state of our airway, making us vulnerable to virus that infect us through the airway.

Here are some tips based on Chinese medicine understanding on how to balance Yin and Yang during autumn and winter.

  • Dress: Keep warm by dressing appropriately to the environment. If you go out, wear a few more layers and wear a scarf to protect your neck and nap.
  • Eat: Eat warm food and drink warm water. Sipping warm water helps moisturise our throat. Have regular ginger drink if you tend to feel cold easily and get cold easily. There is lots of benefit about ginger. This drink formula is well tested. Check this recipe out at the end of this blog.
  • Move: Appropriate amount of exercise during the day. Sufficient exercise to make you feel energised, but not even more tired.
  • Breathing: Deep, slow breathing regulates Yin and Yang and has an amazing impact on human respiratory and cardiovascular system. As you breathe deeply and slowly, you warm up and moisturise your airway. So adopting some activities such as Yoga, Qi Gong, meditation, mindfulness or Pilate that incorporates deep breathing.
  • Sleep: Ensure you have a good sleep between 10pm to 6am. Sleep is the time to for our body to rebalance its Yin and Yang. Going to bed in the early hours of morning or sleeping less than 6 hours a day significantly impact our body the capacity to rebalance Yin and Yang. The good indicator of if you have the right amount of sleep is how you feel when you get up and during the day. You should feel refreshed on rising and have sufficient energy to go through the day.
  • Sunlight: Expose to sun light daily for 30 minutes, preferably in the morning to activate your Yang Qi in the body;

Apart from strengthening the righteous Qi, you also need to avoid evil Qi.

  • Wearing a mask in a crowded environment during a pandemic or in winter is a proven method to protect ourselves against viruses that invade us from the nose and mouth.
  • Adopting a good hygiene by washing or sanitising hands when needed.
  • Avoiding very crowded places if you do not have to be there.

Ginger drink for winter

This drink is only suitable for people who feel cold in their body often and those catches cold easily. If you feel hot easily then do NOT use this recipe.

  • Fresh ginger, grate or chop it into small pieces (2 cm in length)
  • 2 cups of water

Put two cups of water in a pot, and add in the ginger pieces. Heat the pot it up until boiling, keep boiling for 3 minutes. Then turn off the heat. This process will reduce the water into one cup. Strain the water into a cup, sip the water when it cools down. You can sip the ginger water after breakfast and before lunch. I do not recommend sip the drink on empty stomach.

You may want to do that once every second day throughout the winter.