A Guide To Winter Wellness

By Dr. Alex Chen

The winter season is a notoriously challenging time for many people. Cold weather conditions, fewer daylight hours and holiday pressures often lead to an increase in physical aches and emotional stress. However, if viewed differently, you might see that winter presents a wonderful opportunity to take advantage of a new pace of life for a bit.
As a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, I believe in a holistic approach to well-being, and when our minds and bodies present undesirable symptoms (as they often do during a change of season), it’s a signal that something is out of balance. Fortunately, there are many ways you can very naturally reclaim balance and remain well throughout the season.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Be mindful about how you feel during the winter. There are likely some signs or symptoms when your body changes during various seasons. Before you become miserable, be mindful of how you’re feeling and seek proactive treatment for any recurring symptoms. It is far more beneficial and cheaper to manage wellness than illness.
  • Slow down and conserve energy. If you take cues from our environment, you will see that other living organisms respond appropriately to winter weather. Leaves fall from the trees and some animals hibernate to save energy. Humans are no exception to the demands of Earth’s natural ebbs and flows, so we must apply the same rules of adaptation in wintertime. Shift into a less strenuous exercise routine (tai chi or yoga, for instance) and give yourself permission to take it easy for a while.
  • Pay attention to the nuances of your nutrition. Food has natural properties that range from hot to cold, so consider how the temperature of food impacts your body and select food that factors in the cold winter environment. For instance, herbs like cinnamon and ginger have naturally warm properties, which is why many people opt for these spices when they need to heat up in the winter.
  • Explore natural techniques to activate your body’s inherent healing powers. Many people pursue pharmaceuticals when seeking a fast fix for their symptoms, but some medications simultaneously treat symptoms and produce unwanted side effects. Consider alternative treatments like acupuncture, which is a common practice in traditional Chinese medicine that stimulates your body’s healing powers without introducing synthetic drugs into your system.
  • Stay well this winter by incorporating these and other natural wellness concepts into your life!

About Dr. Alex Chen
Dr. Alex Chen, a licensed acupuncturist with nearly 20 years of experience in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), holds a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in traditional Chinese medicine and doctorate of acupuncture and oriental medicine (DAOM). He currently practices at Wellife in St. Louis, Missouri, and actively spreads TCM concepts by participating in health fairs and teaching health and wellness courses through St. Louis Community College’s Continuing Education program. Learn more about his upcoming classes at stlcc.edu/CE.