« Medicine is the art of imitating the
curative processes of nature » - Hippocrate
During the winter, the change in light and the cold are significant sources of stress for the body.The body must activate its biological adaptation mechanisms. The body must constantly modulate its internal temperature and it spends a lot of energy to maintain this balance. In addition, the cold wind and dryness that are more prevalent during the cold season can also put our immune system to the test. Nevertheless, if we maintain a healthy lifestyle adapted to this season and if our energy is optimal, the winter may be much milder and more pleasant. Now, let's explore some ways to preserve your energy as much as possible:
It's certain that if we anticipate winter and already plan to be tired, that's what's likely to happen. Instead, approaching the cold season with the mindset that energy will be high and winter will be fun can help a lot. In other words, if you want to have energy, it's better to focus on what you want instead of what you don't want (i.e. being tired). Why not set up a little mantra? For example, it could be, "This winter, my energy is present and allows me to accomplish my projects with fluidity."
Here is an interesting little exercise to do in the fall. While taking the time to settle down in a quiet place, make a list of all the things you do in a day. Then determine which tasks or activities give you energy and which take it away. Then try to reduce as much as possible all those things that take energy away from you and are not absolutely necessary or do not give you energy back. These elements can be concrete activities, but also inner programming, parasitic thoughts, inner postures that take energy away from you without bringing you any real benefits. Here is an introspective phrase to help the process: "I wish to put to rest and peace ____________".
In traditional Chinese medicine, the Lung extracts Qi, the vital energy, from the air. By taking deep breaths, ideally of fresh air from outside, we can nourish our energy. Breathing also oxygenates the body and promotes overall energy and concentration. We can add a little mantra like: "I inhale energy, I exhale fatigue".
We who are used to our air-conditioning, our heating well regulated, we can quickly feel weakened at the slightest disturbance. Although it is important to conserve our energy if we are exhausted or ill, it is important to continue to go outside, as this will promote better blood circulation and oxygenation of the brain and all cells. Practicing a sport is also favorable to keep in shape and good mood due to the production of dopamine and endorphins. As mentioned above, very often, energy is present, but it can be "stagnant" and being in motion will promote a better circulation of energy.
Establishing wellness rituals in your schedule can make all the difference. Any activity that is very "cocooning" will be very supportive, since by conserving our warmth, we also conserve energy. For example, you can set aside time a few evenings a week for a little reading in the bath, accompanied by a soothing herbal tea and a little incense. Focus on gentle, introspective activities. Learn to embrace darkness, solitude and slowness. Winter is the perfect season for this. You'll come out even more energized in the spring when you emerge from your den.
Biological rhythms, such as the sleep/wake cycle for example, are regulated by internal biological processes but also influenced by the environment, including exposure to daylight. The body tends to synchronize with light cues. If the sun sets earlier, we can therefore benefit from going to bed earlier as well, or reserve the evenings for more relaxing activities as soon as the sun goes down. On the other hand, when we wake up, direct exposure to natural light sends a message to the brain to trigger the secretion of cortisol, a hormone that gives us energy in the morning and helps us wake up. On mornings that are rather gray, you can compensate by using a light therapy lamp. Exposing yourself to a 10,000 lux lamp for about 20 minutes can be enough. This could also be beneficial for seasonal depression.
In the presence of a lack of energy in winter, the consumption of certain stimulants, such as sugar, coffee, tea, energy drinks is tempting. For example, caffeine is a steroid that is adrenergic (stimulates the release of catecholamines, substances that activate the sympathetic nervous system). This often results in an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which leads to a significant expenditure of energy. Stimulants of all kinds tend in the long run to devitalize the nervous system.
Adapting one's diet according to the season
In Ayurveda, it is advised to choose more "warming" foods in winter (spices, root vegetables), as well as more calorie-dense foods, to help us conserve our energy. Eating "warmer" does not necessarily mean cooking everything, but spices such as ginger, cinnamon, pepper, cumin will be of good support in activating blood circulation in addition to warming the body and helping to prevent colds and flus, as many spices are antiviral, antibacterial, etc.
Adaptogenic plants are the best medicinal plants for energy and a good mood during the change of season. These plants act on the adrenal glands in order to preserve vital energy but also act on the nervous and immune systems. The ideal is to start integrating them at least 1 to 3 months before the cold season for better results. For example, ashwagandha root, maca root, ginseng, astragalus, reishi, etc. can be used for their richness in nutrients and their tonic effect. The medicinal roots can easily be integrated into our broths and soups to make a real "medicinal" meal. Here is a small traditional Indian recipe to prepare ashwagandha on a daily basis:
Organic ashwagandha root powder
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of cardamom
A little freshly ground black pepper
Honey to taste
Simmer 1 tsp of ashwagandha powder in 200 ml of milk for 5 minutes. Then add the spices. Stir and wait until well dissolved and take at night before bedtime (if taken to promote sleep).
Do not take ashwagandha if you are intolerant to the solonaceae family. Do not take with medication for thyroid problems and do not take when pregnant.
Adding vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency in the Nordic countries is quite common. This is because there is not enough sunlight to synthesize vitamin D during the winter. A deficiency can lead to a variety of health problems including increased depression and fatigue. The recommended dose may vary depending on multiple factors such as your body weight, your health condition, the use of medication, your age, your assimilation, your pigmentation and your blood level, but a minimum of 1000 IU during the cold season is recommended.
It is important to consult a physician when you experience discomfort or unusual symptoms. Never discontinue any medical or pharmaceutical treatment without the assistance of a physician or other health care professional.