The five elements of Chinese medicine (Water, Wood, Fire, Earth and Metal) cycle throughout the year. It’s valuable to know about these cycles because it helps explain why we feel a certain way, and how we can best support our own health and happiness. Winter—’tis the season of the Water element.
The Role of the Water Element
In our bodies and spirits, winter as Water season provides rest and space to regenerate before the coming spring. In this case, the Water element is really about recharging. Think of a tree in a typical Winter scene. It’s gone quiet in preparation for the new year.
The five elements also cycle daily. I often explain to my patients that 3pm-7pm is the Water time of day. It’s a time when we naturally feel a lull in energy because our bodies are trying to rest. Most people can relate to feeling a little tired in the afternoon, and it’s quite natural.
As the Water time of the year, winter calls us into a similar kind of energetic hibernation. I always find it funny that culturally we are doing the opposite as we get into holiday parties, travel, lots of socializing and getting dressed in our best. The sparkle of the holidays is, I suppose, an antidote to the darkness of winter. But it’s helpful to remember the nature of the season, and to nurture that craving for rest.
Staying in Tune with Water
Here are a few suggestions to help you feel your best this holiday season:
• If you find that you are more tired than usual, do not be surprised! Your body wants to rest, so don’t take it as a personal failure of your get-up-and-go. Allow yourself the extra quiet time.
• Be aware that all that socializing may feel a little extra taxing, so balance your party invitations with time alone.
• Water time is great for quiet contemplation. Let your mind drift and wander. You can meditate, journal, or just go for an aimless walk. That space of non-doing is perfect for this time of year.
• Take off your shoes and consciously feel your feet where they connect with the floor. Let your energy and your attention sink there. Why? The Water element is very much connected with your feet, especially the bottoms of your feet. This is an easy way to settle yourself and to get a recharge.
I wish all of you the best for the holidays. May you meet the new year refreshed and rejuvenated!