As winter solstice approaches and the snow settles in around us, we are reminded to slow down, get lots of rest, and go within. Cold and dark, the season is reflective of the Water element and connected to our Kidney energy. I find it very contradictory with the hustle of the holidays, parties, Christmas concerts, and over-consumption galore - but remembering to slow down and take care of ourselves and loved ones can make all the difference in keeping healthy this season.
In TCM, our Kidney acts as energy reserves and is there to supply energy to the rest of the body when other organ systems are weak or running low on Qi. That's why it's so important to conserve energy in the winter! There is acquired Kidney energy from the food we eat and air we breathe, and there is congenital Kidney energy that's inherited from our parents, or passed down to our children and it's all that you get from birth until death. So let's be kind to our Kidneys! Here's a few simple things you can do to support them:
- Keep feet warm. The kidney channel runs through our feet and into the soles. Wear lots of warm, wool socks this season (as well as sweaters, scarves, mitts, and toques - obvi!) I know that if my kids feet are warm, the rest of their body should follow suit. There's also a great Kidney pressure point on the sole of the foot that can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. I'll often massage the soles of my kids feet before bed to help them sleep.
- Try massaging your ears for a few minutes each day. Ears are also connected to the Kidney organ and channel. Especially if your ears feel cold then get those little guys warmed up pronto!
- Bone broth is your friend! The flavour associated with Kidney energy is salty so foods that are naturally salty to taste can help support our winter organ system. Seafood, seaweeds, beans, and meat are a few other examples. We're not talking potato chips here. Look for whole foods and always organic! Can't get your kids to eat bone broth? Try cooking other foods with it, like rice, sauces, or a pureed veggie soup that's easier to swallow.
- Aromatherapy can help on a psychological level. According to Lorie Dechar L.Ac, Atlas Cedar wood is a good essential oil to support the "Zhi" aspect of the Kidney. This is the psychological side of the Kidney and is based on a complex theory of five spirits that are associated with the five yin organs - I could write an entirely new post about it. Maybe later. In the meantime, try diffusing a few drops of Atlas cedar oil to help boost Kidney energy and promote the intention to accomplish things this winter. Bonus: your house will smell like an evergreen forest!
- Listen to your body: Fear is the emotion that's associated with our Kidney channel. If you or your loved ones are experiencing anxiety or panic, then please slow down and take some time to reflect on what's best for you in the moment. Experiencing these emotions are a sign that your Kidneys may be imbalanced or running low. Acupuncture is always good to help relax the nervous system and support the Kidney organ.
- Go to sleep. Ancient civilizations would rise and fall with the sun so, naturally with this, the darkest time of year, also comes a lot of sleep. Be gentle with yourself and give permission to nap and go to bed early whenever you're feeling overwhelmed. Sleep will also help de-stress with all that is expected during the holidays. If you can't sleep then simply resting is also beneficial. This doesn't mean doing nothing, but rather focusing on what inspires us, and letting go of what no longer serves us. Rest is one of the best forms of medicine!
There you have it, just a few, easy little tips for this winter and it's associated organ. Again, I can't say enough about keeping warm. As soon as our body temp drops, energy is used to start warming us up. As our body uses energy, we're left with less for everything else. So in order to avoid feeling depleted and tired more quickly, make it easier for yourself and your little ones by bundling up! This goes for food, too. Avoid cold, raw foods during the winter as we will use more energy in trying to digest them than we will actually receive from the food. Focus on warm, easy-to-digest foods instead. Winter is a very yin season being that it is dark, cold, and wet. Focus on keeping your family's yang fire burning to support Qi and stay on top of Kidney health!
May you all enjoy a Happy Solstice and holidays filled with love. I'll be over here, hibernating and keeping tiny toes toasty.