This time of year can be difficult for many of us. The days are cold and damp, the nights are long, and many of us feel a plummet in our motivation to do things that make us feel healthier. Stagnation sets in, mentally and physically. But just like the spring flowers push through the soil, you too will get through. Here are some tips below that will help you minimize wintertime stagnation and keep you feeling your best.
1. Eat warm foods. One of the simplest things you can do this time of year is making sure you’re eating warm foods. Warm foods will give your overall digestive and metabolic system a little boost, so that your body doesn’t have to struggle so hard to digest. Salads and smoothies are great during the warmer months, but can lead to more contraction and stagnation if eaten in excess. This not only weakens digestion but can also lead to an increase in pain.
2. Sauna or epsom salt soaks. If you find yourself feeling a little frozen get your blood moving with a rest in a sauna or epsom salt soak. The sweating caused by each is a great way to detoxify and help remove metabolic wastes from the body. Epsom salts are also a great natural muscle relaxant, so they’re great for anyone who tends to be on the rigid side, especially in the colder months.
3. Acupuncture and Bodywork. If you’re feeling mentally and physically stuck. Therapeutic practices like acupuncture, cupping, guasha, and massage can help jumpstart your ignition. Not only can these practices be a relief for muscles that feel a little more stiff and achy than usual, but it can be great if you are mentally feeling a little stuck as well.
4. Set mini “SMART” goals at the beginning of each week. If you feel like you’re swimming with endless to do lists, but are feeling stuck can’t seem to find a good place to start, try setting three SMART goals at the beginning of each week. These goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Writing down three simple tasks even if it’s just as simple as going to bed before midnight, will help you move through the slow times of winter and keep you moving forward.
5. Move as much as you can-even if it seems impossible. When trying to move stagnation and feel our best, people automatically think they have to do the most for the most benefit, but I would argue the best way to keep moving forward is to take little movement “snacks” during the day. Get up every hour if you’re sitting at your desk and walk around the office, dance to your favorite song, take the stairs. Even if you feel like you don’t have the capacity for a full blown workout, little moments where you can change up your movement patterns will help you along.
6. Talk/Write/Breathe it out. While movement helps both our physical and mental health, I would argue the same is true for things that affect our mental state. If you tend towards depression and anxiety this time of year, make sure you are taking time to reflect on your feelings and emotions. Whether this is with the help of a trained counselor or mental health professional, journaling, or your favorite form of meditation, any opportunity we have to regulate our nervous system and allow for self reflection can be invaluable for keeping us more in balance with our whole body.
-Casey McCullough, LAc
Licensed Acupuncturist, Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Casey’s interest in acupuncture and East Asian medicine began as a teenager after struggles with knee pain and asthma caused her to seek help outside the sphere of conventional care. The rest is history. Casey believes that humans are like intricate mosaics, made up of millions of tiny pieces. Some of these pieces are beautiful, some ugly, but all uniquely us. She strives to respect and value all of these pieces when designing treatment plans, ensuring patients leave feeling empowered about their health—because we ALL deserve to feel good. She enjoys a collaborative, team approach to patient care and wants to make sure that everyone is working towards a common goal. Read more about Casey McCullough.