Ho Ho Ho! The festive season has snuck around again, bringing a flurry of celebrations with friends and family and the challenge of finding the perfect gift to express our sentiments towards loved ones. While we enjoy the festive season, using Chinese medicines wisdom can help to balance the extremes of this period to keep us in better health.
This time can be lots of fun, but also challenging with family tensions and relationship issues coming to the forefront. The stress of last minute shopping can wear one out mentally and physically, and the extra rich food and festive booze places an extra burden on our digestive systems. Often we feel burnt out after it all, feeling like we need a holiday to recover. This is often be the catalyst for New Years intentions to look after our health.
Christmas is a very Yang time of the year in Australia. Summer has arrived, the most Yang time of the year, bringing with it all the associations of the Fire element. We tend to be more social (willingly or not) and extra busy trying to prepare for Christmas / New Years celebrations whilst wrapping up work commitments for some time off during this period (or for those in service industries often working extra hours). Part of the essence of Chinese medicine is to embrace the nature of the season we are in, so all this celebrating fits in perfectly! Here are 5 tips to help keep us healthy through this season.
Control your intake
Don’t overeat, only fill yourself to 70% full. This should apply to alcohol consumption too. Chinese Medicine is all about balance – there is nothing wrong with some indulgence here and there but keeping it moderate helps avoid us tipping the scales too far.
Whilst the warm nature of this season invites some more cooling influences in our diet to balance the heat and reintroduce moisture, we must be careful of overdoing it. Our digestive system works best in a warm environment, being happiest when everything consumed is at room temperature or above. This means minimising ice creams and iced drinks, especially if our digestion is already struggling with many heavy and indulgent meals around this time. Drinking a warming tea with you meals Pu’er or Chrysanthemum tea will help with digesting Christmas lunch.
The intrinsic nature of the Fire element in this season is about external communication and joy. Allow this to be indulged by having a laugh and participating in activities which give you the most joy (and feel ok in avoiding those which provide no joy).
Make time for movement
Exercise and movement of the body is a full expression of the Wood element. By keeping our body moving we are able to generate the healthy, joyful expression of the Fire element and summer. This movement is also beneficial to expel the internal heat generated from our dietary indulgence and ensuing couch potato vibe. Generating some light sweating while exercising can also have a detoxifying effect on the body.
All of the demanding Yang activity may have a resonance with the season, however we must be mindful to keep a balance of Yin to counter this. This means not overbooking ourselves and allowing time to rest and nourish ourselves. Take a few days away from shopping and parties to just be at home and rest. Ensure you get enough sleep, those late night Christmas parties should be balanced with a full nights rest, making sure you try to get to sleep before 11 to enjoy the most restorative hours of sleep according the flow of Qi through the organs.
Give to yourself
Our focus becomes externalised when considering our Christmas shopping list. Finding the perfect expression of your sentiments towards others brings your attention to those in your friend and family circles. Whilst this is very important, don’t forget yourself. Including yourself on your Christmas shopping list ensures you are balancing the external (Yang) with the internal (Yin). Plus this way you can be sure to receive at least one thing you know you will love under the tree this year!
Of course if it all becomes too much physically or emotionally, then seeking some treatment to help yourself regain some balance is appropriate. A session of acupuncture, or some herbs, can do wonders to help reset one self from the festive season, and indeed help set intentions towards the new year. Very often we make resolutions to do many things for our health in the New Year and Chinese medicine is a fantastic tool to help propel your journey along this path.
Have a great festive season!
What else would you like to know?
Thanks for reading this far. Have I missed your question? Was something unclear? Let me know in the comments below!
Acupuncturist. Herbalist. Educator.
Jason is the owner of and principal practitioner at Dantian Health. A nationally registered Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, he is also an educator in Oriental Medicine at the Australian Shiatsu College.
Jason’s qualifications include a Bachelors degree in Health Science (Chinese Medicine) and Diploma in Chinese Remedial Massage (AnMo TuiNa) from Southern School of Natural Therapies, Diploma in Shiatsu and Oriental Therapies from Australian Shiatsu College and a Diplomate in Canonical Chinese Medicine from Institute of Classics in East Asian Medicine.